The Cholesterol Myth
The idea that too much animal fat and high cholesterol are dangerous to your heart and vessels is nothing but a myth. Here are some astonishing and frightening facts
Cholesterol is not a deadly poison, but a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. There are no such things as good or bad cholesterol, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. A high cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.
A high blood cholesterol is said to promote atherosclerosis and thus also coronary heart disease. But many studies have shown that people whose blood cholesterol is low become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is high.
Your body produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why the ”prudent” diet cannot lower cholesterol more than on average a few per cent.
There is no evidence that too much animal fat and cholesterol in the diet promotes atherosclerosis or heart attacks. For instance, more than twenty studies have shown that people who have had a heart attack haven't eaten more fat of any kind than other people, and degree of atherosclerosis at autopsy is unrelated with the diet.
Drugs can effectively lower cholesterol levels, but neither heart mortality or total mortality have been improved with drugs, the effect of which is cholesterol-lowering only. On the contrary, these drugs are dangerous to your health and may shorten your life.
The new cholesterol-lowering drugs, the statins, do prevent cardio-vascular disease, but this is due to mechanisms other than cholesterol-lowering. Unfortunately, they also stimulate cancer in rodents, disturb the functions of the muscles, the heart and the brain and pregnant women taking statins may give birth to children with malformations more severe than those seen after thalidomide.
Many of these facts have been presented in scientific journals and books for decades but are rarely told to the public by the proponents of the diet-heart idea.
The reason why laymen, doctors and most scientists have been misled is because opposing and disagreeing results are systematically ignored or misquoted in the scientific press.
The benefits of high cholesterol
Most people ‘know’ that high cholesterol is something to be afraid of and that the most important thing to do to avoid a heart attack is to lower one’s cholesterol as much as possible. But did you know that high cholesterol protects you against infectious diseases, which most probably explain that high cholesterol is associated with longevity? With these facts in mind, why should we care about high cholesterol?
Old people with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one´s brainwashed mind, at least for those who haven’t studied the available information, to fully understand its importance. Yet the fact that people with high cholesterol live the longest emerges clearly from many scientific papers.
Why High Cholesterol Is Good
In certain aspects low cholesterol is worse than high cholesterol. Already fifteen years ago, American researchers found that low cholesterol predicts an increased risk of dying from diseases of the stomach, the intestines and the lungs.
Most of these diseases are infectious. Therefore, a relevant question is whether it is the infection that lowers cholesterol or the low cholesterol that predisposes one to infectious diseases You have probably already guessed what the directors of the cholesterol campaign have said, but is it true? To answer that question the same researchers followed more than 100,000 healthy individuals in the San Francisco area for fifteen years. At the end of the study they noted that those who had low cholesterol at the start of the study had been admitted more often to hospital because of an infectious disease. This finding cannot be explained away with the argument that the infection had caused cholesterol to go down, because how could low cholesterol, recorded when these people had no evidence of infection, be caused by a disease they had not yet encountered? Isn’t it much more likely that low cholesterol in some way made them more vulnerable to infection? Much evidence exists to support that interpretation.
One of the many reasons not to name LDL as bad is that the lipoproteins have other important functions. One of them is to take care of microorganisms and their toxic products.
Staphylococcus aureus a-toxin is the most toxic substance produced by strains of the disease-promoting bacteria called staphylococci. It is able to destroy all kinds of human cells, including red blood cells. For instance, if minute amounts of the toxin are added to a test tube with red blood cells dissolved in salt water, the blood is hemolyzed, that is, the membranes of the red blood cells burst and hemoglobin from the interior of the cells leaks out into the solvent. Dr. Bhakdi and his team mixed purified a-toxin with human serum (the fluid in which the blood cells reside) and now the toxic effect of a-toxin almost disappeared. By various complicated methods they identified the protective substance in human serum as LDL, the carrier of the "bad” cholesterol. In accordance, nothing happened when they mixed a-toxin with purified human LDL.
Dr. Willy Flegel and his co-workers at Heidelberg University in Germany studied bacterial toxins in another way. As mentioned above, one of the effects of bacterial toxins is that they stimulate white blood cells to produce cytokines, hormones that start the inflammatory processes. The German researchers found that this effect disappeared almost completely if the toxin was mixed with purified LDL before they added the white blood cells to the test tubes. Obviously, LDL was able to neutralize the bacterial toxins.
The immune systems in various mammals including human beings have many similarities. Therefore, it is interesting to see what experiments with rats and mice can tell us. Professor Kenneth Feingold and his group at the University of California have published some interesting studies. In one of them they lowered LDL-cholesterol in rats by drugs with the result that they died much easier after an injection of bacterial toxins. The high mortality was not due to the cholesterol-lowering drug because, if they gave the animals an injection of human lipoproteins just before the experiment, they survived.
In another experiment, researchers from the Netherlands injected bacteria or their toxins into normal mice, and into mice with high cholesterol. Whereas all normal mice died, most of the mice with high cholesterol survived.
Many of the roles played by the lipoprotein LDL are shared by HDL as well. This should not be too surprising considering that high HDL-cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular health and longevity.
But there is more.....
Triglycerides, molecules consisting of three fatty acids linked to a molecule named glycerol, are insoluble in water and are therefore carried through the blood inside lipoproteins, just as cholesterol. All lipoproteins carry triglycerides, but most of them are carried by the VLDL, the largest lipoprotein in our blood.
For many years it has been known that patients suffering from sepsis, a life-threatening condition caused by bacterial growth in the blood, have high levels of triglycerides. The serious symptoms of sepsis are due to bacterial toxins, most often produced by gut bacteria. Now to the interesting point. Solutions rich in triglycerides are also able to protect experimental animals from the dangerous effects of bacterial toxins, which means that the high level of triglycerides seen in sepsis is not a bad thing, but a normal response to infection. Usually sepsis bacteria come from the guts. It is therefore fortunate that the blood draining the guts is especially rich in triglycerides.
High cholesterol protects against allergy
Children with allergic problems, such as asthma and hay fever, have lower cholesterol than healthy children. As allergic diseases have become more common and is still increasing in the Western world it is tempting to suggest that the cause is the increasing consumption of the polyunsaturated vegetable oils of the omega-6 type, because these oils are known to stimulate inflammatory processes, and allergy is a kind of inflammation. Please see our article about the correct balance of omega oils here
But there is room for another explanation. At the Skin and Allergy Hospital in Helsinki, Finland Dr.Maria Pesonen and her co-workers followed 200 children from their birth to their 20 year anniversary. They found that the children with allergic disorders had lower total and LDL cholesterol than the others. The difference was obvious already at a time where all the children were breastfed. Thus, the difference could not be explained by their dietary habits. The researchers had no explanation for their observation, but if the lipoproteins are able to bind microbial products, it seems not too far-fetched to assume that they can bind other molecules as well, for instance allergens, those molecules that starts the allergic reactions.
Is familial hypercholesterolemia a disease?
"The more LDL there is in the blood, the more rapidly atherosclerosis develops.” This was the main conclusion of the American Nobel Price-winners, Joseph Goldstein and Michael Brown. They discovered that the cells of people with familial hypercholesterolemia had difficulties taking in cholesterol from the blood because of a defect in the LDL-receptor, the mechanism that transports these vital molecules into the cells. This was the reason why cholesterol was much higher than normal in these people. People with familial hypercholesterolemia also have more atherosclerosis than normal and some of them do die early in life from heart disease. It was therefore not too far-fetched for Goldstein and Brown to draw the conclusion they did, and also to assume that it was applicable to the rest of mankind. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1985 for their discovery, and many other researchers share their view.
Their finding is certainly interesting, a result of careful scientific work. Unfortunately, the conclusion they drew was too hasty. In fact, there are benefits associated with this condition, which is why I deliberately refer to individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia as people, not as patients. What is even more surprising is that the reason why some of them die at a young age from heart disease is not their high cholesterol, but something else. I shall come back to that.
In England The Simon Broome Familial Hyperlipidaemia Register Group have followed almost 3000 people with familial hypercholesterolemia for many years. At the most recent control they found that 102 of them, or 3.6 % had died from a heart attack. By analyzing mortality of the same age group in the English population they calculated that the expected number should have been 40, or 1.4 %. On the other hand, fewer had died from other causes, 112 against the expected number 193, or 4 % against 6.8 %. For instance, only half as many had died from cancer. If you add the figures and compare them you will see that people with familial hypercholesterolemia live at least as long as other people, if not longer. A little more die from heart disease, but fewer die from cancer and other diseases.
The authors of the scientific report stressed that the participants in their study were admitted because all of them had close relatives who had died at a young age. Cholesterol screening often identifies old people with familial hypercholesterolemia who have no such relatives. The authors therefore suggested that if the participants had been representative for all people with familial hypercholesterolemia, their mortality would have been even lower.
In Finland, Professor Tatu Miettinen and Dr. Helena Gylling studied about one hundred individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia. Fourteen to seventeen years later, 30 had died, 26 because of a heart attack and four of other causes. On average, initial LDL cholesterol was the same among those who had died and those who still were alive. If high LDL cholesterol was the most important cause of atherosclerosis and heart disease, as postulated by Nobel Award winners Goldstein and Brown, then we should have expected higher cholesterol in those who died, but that wasn’t the case. Many other researchers have confirmed the Finnish findings.
Another conflicting observation is the fact that people with familial hypercholesterolemia have normal cerebral arteries, even though the same cholesterol-rich blood flows through their brain as through the rest of their body.
A missing link
The genetic aberrations in people with familial hypercholesterolemia are more complicated than Brown and Goldstein assumed. For instance, in a study of 2400 such individuals, Dr. Angelique Jansen at the University of Amsterdam found that variations of the prothrombin gene were associated with an increased risk of heart disease in these people. Prothrombin is a substance necessary for blood coagulation and an abnormal prothrombin gene may lead to the production of too much of this substance. The result is an increased tendency to coagulation and clot formation. Thus, some individuals with familial hypercholesterolemia may form arterial clots more easily than other people, not because of their high cholesterol, but because of an abnormal coagulation system.
Heart patients with familial hypercholesterolemia more often have high concentrations of fibrinogen and factor VIII in their blood than healthy people with familial hypercholesterolemia. Also these substances participate in the coagulation process, and too much of them may stimulate to clot formation. And again, whereas the heart patients had much higher concentrations of fibrinogen and factor VIII, their total and LDL cholesterol did not differ from those measured in healthy people with familial hypercholesterolemia.
In earlier times, people with familial hypercholesterolemia lived longer than other people! Dutch researchers tracked the ancestors of people with familial hypercholesterolemia and identified 412 individuals with a 50 percent chance of having this genetic abnormality. They also searched official records of deaths and found that the longevity of those with a family history of this genetic aberration was not lower before the year 1900; in fact, on average they lived longer than other people. As the most common cause of death at that time was infectious disease, the authors suggested that high cholesterol protects against infection.
We thank Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD for the above information and recommend his extensive website
for further reading on this topic. Also there, you will find comprehensive references to the quoted studies and conclusions.
About Dr.Ravnskov (Abridged)
Born 1934 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Graduated 1961 from the University of Copenhagen with an M.D.
1961-1967 various appointments at surgical, roentgenological, neurological, pediatric and medical departments in Denmark and Sweden.
1968-79 various appointments at the Department of Nephrology, and the Department of Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital, Lund, Sweden; 1975-79 as an assistant professor at the Department of Nephrology.
1973 PhD at the University of Lund. A specialist in internal medicine and nephrology.
1979-2000 a private practitioner.
Since 1979 an independent researcher.
Honoured by the Skrabanek Award 1999 given by Trinity College of Dublin, Ireland for original contributions in the field of medical scepticism.
Honoured by the 2007 Leo-Huss-Walin Prize for Independent Thinking in Natural Sciences And Medicine.
Member of International Science Oversight Board
Member of the editorial board of Cholesterol
Member of the editorial board of Journal of Lipids
Director of THINCS, The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics
The medical profession, pharmaceutical industries and food industries have propagated the Cholesterol Myth. We would encourage you to read "The Cholesterol Myth" by Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD (ISBN 0-9670897-0-0). The book is out of print but can be found from many book locating services. Also now available is Dr. Ravnskov's second book Fat and Cholesterol are GOOD for You! This includes updated and simplified sections from the first one. It tells about the many benefits that are associated with high cholesterol, even for people with familial hypercholesterolemia. Also presented are Dr. Ravnskov's own ideas about the cause of heart disease, ideas that explain all the findings that do not fit with the present view.
A Balanced View
As you have already read, cholesterol is a natural element that protects our nerves, cell membranes; skin, brain cells as well as playing an important role for our hormones and the immune system. It is an area of health that is often misunderstood and drugs are frequently prescribed for problems that can be dealt with naturally. Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is called "bad" cholesterol whereas high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is vital for good health.
So, taking a balanced view, we can take healthy steps to not
get this issue out of proportion! A good nutritional programme is essential - to that end please see our Dietary Guidelines
Avocados have been shown to be a good balance of oils and they are good for your cardiovascular system and can easily be added into your diet. You can read more about The Health Benefits of Avocados here
Cholesterol and Butter
Individuals with raised cholesterol levels are often advised to cut back on their intake of foods rich in saturated fat and cholesterol such as butter. However, the majority of cholesterol in the bloodstream does not come from directly from the diet, but is made internally in the liver. This may help to explain why several studies show little or no relationship between the consumption of foods rich in saturated fat and/or cholesterol, and blood cholesterol levels.
It is essential that you DO NOT have any margarine, hydrogenated fats and cooked or heated oils, especially vegetable oils. Synthetic margarines and spreads contain a whole host of emulsifiers, stabilizers, colours, flavours, preservatives, and the emulsifying manufacturing creates a product that is far from the "healthy" product the label would have us believe. In fact, in the early 20th-century, the US Government listed margarine as a "harmful drug" and restricted its sale before taxing it heavily and introducing a licensing system! On the other hand, butter is a totally natural and wonderful substance; it is minimally processed and provides vitamins and specific fats that nourish the body in a good way. It is without doubt a useful part of a healthy diet - in moderation of course! Fats are an important part of a diet and the negative press fails to recognise this basic nutritional fact.
A healthy diet is critical for all health issues, but this is a NATURAL diet not one full of artificial fats, salts etc. Please refer to our Dietary Guidelines
for more information.
The saturated fat and low cholesterol fraud earns the hoaxers billions of dollars each year and kills millions in America alone each year. 3 simple lies......
Lie Number 1
Saturated fat is bad for you so you must use unsaturated vegetable oils
Lie Number 2
Cholesterol is bad for you so you need a low cholesterol diet
Lie Number 3
Unsaturated vegetable oils are good for you
The first recorded heart attack was in Britain in 1878. In the early 1900s Dr Dudley White (referred to as the founder of cardiology) said that he wanted to find out more about the new disease reported in European medical literature, but he had to wait until 1921 before he met his first heart attack patient.
During the last century consumption of vegetable oils rose continuously, and so did the incidence of heart attacks. Now that we have got the facts out of the way, let's go back to the story of the lies.
Start of the scam
After the first world war the vegetable oil manufacturers were in trouble. Their main market was for manufacture of paints and varnishes and putty, because these all harden when exposed to Oxygen. That meant that they couldn't use them for food because they would form plaque in the blood vessels and cause heart attacks.
It would have cost the manufacturers a lot of money to buy pigs to try out the diet (the pig is the closest animal to humans as far as nutrition is concerned) but their salesmen persuaded pig farmers to buy the oils to feed to pigs. The farmers were delighted when the pigs put on weight explosively on the oil diet. That meant that they could cut down on feed costs because the pigs were slaughtered sooner. The salesmen weren't quite as pleased, because it would need fast talking to sell fattening oils to humans.
Then the farmers ran into trouble. The pigs getting a diet of unsaturated vegetable oils died of cancer or heart attacks before they could be slaughtered, even with their early obesity.
Fortunately for the manufacturers humans don't keep records of what they eat, so they can't usually associate what they have eaten with their health. So the salesmen set out to persuade humans that a diet rich in unsaturated vegetable oils was healthy.
They met high sales resistance because everyone was fond of butter, but the butter manufacturers started to centrifuge out the butter instead of churning it, resulting in a tasteless mess. So the margarine manufacturers were able to claim that "you can't tell margerine from butter" once butter had no taste.
People still took pride in using butter, so the manufacturers bribed a medical research worker to invent the cholesterol lie. Cholesterol is used widely by the body, especially by the brain. If the liver stopped making cholesterol we would rapidly become stupid. When you cut down on cholesterol in your diet your liver has to manufacture a little more, but that is easy because your liver makes a lot more cholesterol than you could possibly eat.
A couple of decades ago the man who invented the cholesterol lie admitted that he had been bribed to do so by the makers of margarine to discourage the use of butter in the diet and present margarine as a hearth healthy diet item, even though it is full of deadly trans fatty acids. It worked... but the story was suppressed by the media, and we still hear over and over again the lies about low cholesterol diets. Research workers have been trying for half a century to prove that cholesterol is bad for you but have failed, because it has to be made by your body for you to remain healthy. Your brain is half cholesterol, so if you interfere with your liver production of cholesterol you become more stupid.
Suppression of evidence
C.T. McGee tells an amusing story in his book published in 1993 "Heart Frauds: The Misapplication of High Technology in Heart Disease" Cour D'Alene, ID MediPress, p155-156.
An old baboon was so much trouble that they decided to get rid of him by giving him a heart attack. They gave him only eggs to eat for a year. He still hadn't died so they killed him and examined him for cholesterol deposits in his blood vessels. There were none, so the information was suppressed.
This is typical of modern healthy diet research. If results are unfavorable to a pet theory they may appear in some obscure journal that nobody reads, but if the media take up the story they will be threatened with loss of advertising revenue.
The advantage of this lie is that if your cholesterol doesn't come down they can say that you aren't trying hard enough with your low cholesterol diet and sell you drugs to lower your cholesterol by interfering with the action of your liver. The media trumpet the results of tests showing that the drug lowered heart attacks by 0.1% but they keep quiet about cancer deaths increasing by 5% in the same experiment.
We are told that the plaque in our blood vessels is cholesterol. Well some of it is. Most of it is made from unsaturated vegetable oils in our diet, not the result of high cholesterol diets. Plaque is formed like a scab on a cut finger, to cure a breach in the skin. Unfortunately that can clog a blood vessel completely. The answer is to prevent the blood vessels being damaged in the first instance and to make sure that your diet has all the vitamins and minerals that you need to keep your blood vessels healthy and the cholesterol liquid enough to be carried round to your brain.
We are told that Eskimos don't get heart attacks, because their diet prevents blood clotting. That is true...they die of internal bleeding instead, referred to as "strokes".
Cellular damage of low cholesterol vegetable oil diet
Unsaturated oils are drying oils. That means that they harden when exposed to oxygen, whether it is in putty, or varnish, or your blood stream. Our ancestors lived on a diet high in saturated fats. Dr Yamori reported that rats given high cholesterol and saturated fat diets had fewer strokes. Saturated fats don't produce free radicals, so antioxidants were not as necessary to our ancestors as they are in today's diets. Most people know now that margarine is dangerous because of the trans fatty acids, but they don't realize that when they heat up any unsaturated oil they are also creating toxic products that don't happen when you use lard or butter for cooking. The membranes around the cells in our body are mostly fat. Saturated fats are C shaped and interlock to produce a strong membrane. Unsaturated oils are straight so don't lock together, so weaker membranes are produced, more open to infection.
What is the solution
Refuse to accept the lies about saturated fats in your diet and cholesterol in your diet and polyunsaturated vegetable oils for cooking. Go back to using saturated fats in your diet. It is more healthy for your heart.
There is something even better. It is a saturated fat, but a short-chain saturated fat, not long-chain like the animal fats. The short-chain fat is used by your body in a completely different manner. You still need animal fats for all the old uses like building cell membranes, carrying fat-soluble vitamins, and building your brain, but the short-chain fats are used instead as a source of energy. Better still, ordinary fats are used as fuel when the short-chain fats are burned for energy, so you have a healthy diet that will let you lose weight, and keep your brain and your immune system, and your heart healthy. Coconut oil is the best short-chain oil but palm oil is also very good. If the only change that you make in your diet is to get rid of vegetable oils and use coconut oil instead you will lose weight. As usual the less foods are processed, the better they are for you, so if you can get good fresh coconuts they are much better than oil. The saturated fat and low cholesterol fraud is probably more deadly than all the others, because heart attacks, cancer, and strokes are the greatest killers after medical errors.
Certain unsaturated cold pressed oils are useful supplements, although always unheated. Examples of cold pressed oils used as supplements are Hemp Oil, Black Seed Oil & Sunflower Oil please see our article discussing EFAs linked at the end of this article. For long term consumption of seed and vegetable oils regular consumption of sunflower seeds and nuts is suggested. The oils found in Olive Oil are less liable to spoiling and have many health benefits in larger quantities e.g. up to 30ml daily. Unrefined coconut oil is a great healer and has the most resistance to spoiling. If you must cook with oil then Coconut Oil is the least damaged by heat. Interestingly the more coconuts and coconut oil consumed the lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease. There are some islands in the South pacific where coconuts are consumed in one form or another with every meal. In these populations researchers have failed to find a single case of cardio-vascular disease.
Whilst we have no doubt that the whole cholesterol problem is at best incomplete science and at worst, more likely, a total fraud; we do accept that many people will still wish to lower their cholesterol levels naturally, either for their own personal reasons or to ensure ongoing support from doctors who wish to otherwise prescribe very dangerous statins or similar. For those people we would suggest the use of Natur-Leaf
to naturally balance cholesterol levels.
Plant Sterols and Sterolins (Natur-Leaf) have been shown in numerous studies to help balance cholesterol from extremes "Plant sterols have beneficial effects on hormone metabolism generally (essential for optimum well-being)" Journal of Complementary Medicine, article by Nancy Beckham, 02/02/96) Their benefits for cholesterol have been studied at length since the 50s. So much so, that we now find numerous products in the supermarkets containing sterols specifically to reduce cholesterol; in particular, margarines have been introduced and promoted as healthy alternatives due to the addition of sterols. Margarine however should be avoided at all costs, containing a host of ingredients never meant for the human body; this substance, even with the addition of sterols, is far from healthy!
Natur-Leaf capsules contain a wonderful proprietary phytonutrients blend and provide a convenient and healthy way to enjoy the benefits of Sterols and Sterolins. Studies have shown that the sterols - particularly beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol - combine with the low-density cholesterol in the intestine forming a new, crystalline matrix, which cannot be absorbed. The human body naturally evacuates this matrix. They provide essential nutrition to support good immune system function. In their natural state, sterols and sterolins are hard to digest even with perfectly functioning digestive systems, supplementing with the highly absorbable Natur-Leaf provides the true benefit of these remarkable plant cholesterols.
For further important related information, please see the articles
Disclaimer: Regenerative Nutrition advocates a holistic approach to natural health and wellbeing. The body's ability and power to heal depends upon the totality of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors. The information provided in our article is for information purposes only, it in no way constitutes a medical consultation, or medical advice, nor is it intended to be taken as a solicitation to purchase our products.
Always consult a health care practitioner when combating disease states.
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