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The Big Fat Cholesterol Myth


According to the American Heart Association, “On an average, there is one death every thirty four seconds due to Coronary Vascular Disease (CVD).”[1]

Millions have been warned about the dangers of high cholesterol and heart disease.

Don’t believe the hype! It’s time for some shocking insight about cholesterol.

A few facts about this often misunderstood substance:

 

  • Cholesterol is responsible for brain synapses (communication between nerve cells)
  • Vitamin D is synthesized from cholesterol by action of sunlight on skin (vitamin D is essential for bone health and protects against cancer)
  • Cholesterol is needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K
  • Cholesterol repairs cells – “Cholesterol is being transported to tissues as part of an inflammatory response that is there to repair damage.”[2]
  • “Low-fat, low-cholesterol diets can be very unhealthy, especially for women. All our major hormones are made from cholesterol: estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, DHEA, and testosterone. If we don’t eat enough, our bodies divert cholesterol from our endocrine system to use for brain function and repair. When that happens, it’s almost impossible for our bodies to maintain hormonal balance.”[3]

Cholesterol is imperative to our health.

The body increases cholesterol in reaction to inflammation, infection and stress.  This is a normal response. The human body is brilliant and naturally self-protective.

Whoever created the human body and its miraculous functions is a super-genius. I’m just sayin’.

Demonizing cholesterol, and taking statin drugs to unnaturally lower our levels, sets the body up for failure.  Some negative side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs include: nerve damage, muscle degeneration, acidosis, anemia, cataracts, memory loss, sexual dysfunction, pancreas and liver dysfunction, increased risk for diabetes, low vitamin D levels and cancer[4].

Contrary to popular belief high cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease.

Back in the 1970’s, nutritional science recommended reducing saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods and encouraged us to eat margarine instead.

What happened to heart disease when we took that advice? It skyrocketed!

Today, we know butter is better than margarine (margarine is hydrogenated fat).

Egg yolks were also implicated as a “dangerous for the heart” food. As far as eggs go… many of the best nutrients reside in the infamous cholesterol rich egg yolk (lutein, lecithin, vitamins A& D, E & K).

More recent studies implicate stress, bacterial infection and poor immunity as more probable causes of heart disease. [5][6][7].

Preventing heart disease is not about lowering cholesterol. A better way to support heart health is to reduce or eliminate food and lifestyle behaviors that contribute to stress, poor immunity, and overgrowth of bacteria.

Common offenders include:

  • Sugar and highly refined carbohydrates that can increase stress hormone, depress immunity, and feed bacteria[8]
  • Excessive amounts of caffeine that can increase stress hormone [9]
  • Eating sick and diseased animals that have lived a stressed-out and unhealthy life in factory farms
  • Pesticide laden foods that damage the immune, reproductive and endocrine systems[10]

Reducing the risk of heart disease can be easy and delicious by choosing wholesome foods that are naturally and ethically raised without chemicals or preservatives.

Foods to include in a heart healthy diet include:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Vegetables
  • Fermented foods
  • Nuts & seeds
  • Fruits
  • Fats
  • Naturally raised animal proteins & fats (including the much maligned egg and butter)

Eat foods your ancestors ate and ditch the modern highly processed foods that contain refined carbs, high sugar content, and crappy fats.

If you don’t know what your ancestors ate, ask your grandmother what her grandmother ate, and then eat that food.

Besides proper nutrition and daily physical exercise, the heart needs emotional healing.

Detrimental to heart energy is an inability to forgive others as well as an inability to forgive oneself.

The Buddha said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Let go and drop that hot coal! I’m sure there are much better things you can do with your hands… like hug someone.

It’s time to learn how to support your heart on many levels. Join me for an enlightening webinar and get the information you need to truly start Supporting Your Heart! 

[1] http://www.healthcare-online.org/Heart-Disease-Statistics.html

[2] http://www.mercola.com/2005/may/28/cholesterol_heart.htm

[3] http://www.womentowomen.com/nutritionandweightloss/fatandcholesterol.aspx

[4] http://www.mercola.com/2005/may/28/cholesterol_heart.htm

[5] http://www.mercola.com/2001/mar/14/bacterial_infections.htm

[6] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071120095413.htm

[7] http://www.nature.com/nm/journal/v6/n8/full/nm0800_841.html

[8] http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/37740.php

[9] http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/caffeine.htm

[10] http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/effects-of-pesticides/pesticides-immune-system

  • Thank you so much for posting this! I hear the fear of cholesterol from clients all of the time and have worked with them to move their diets in a more healthful direction. Statins are not necessary and there’s so much we can do with diet and lifestyle! What a great article!

    • Andrea

      I know – it’s crazy! We have been sold a lie, and it has permeated our culture entirely. They even have kids on cholesterol lowering drugs right now. That’s insane!

  • Liz G.

    Very eye opening if you take the time to really read and get educated on this topic, most folks just believe the lies they are fed by food manufactures and their doctors…such a shame that even our own doctors cant get it right when it comes to Cholestorol, some people trust them 100%
    Also I wanted to ask you your opinion of the Paleo diet/lifestyle way of eating that promotes a diet high in good fats from grass fed/finished animals, lots of veggies, and some fruits and dicourages grains, sugar and bad carbohydrates… Ive learned soooo much from researching this lifestyle, its during this research when I first learned that Cholesterol isnt the devil we are all lead to believe it is. Im personally sold on this way of eating and have been eating Paleo for about 3 weeks now and im loosing weight and feeling great all while eating lots of meat and fat ( veggies too!)
    Your thoughts?

    • Andrea

      I think the Paleo lifestyle and diet is really good – it encourages eating whole foods. Although, I don’t agree with eliminating ALL grains entirely. I think we are overgrained and definitely over eating refined carbohydrates and sugars. There are many cultures around the world that have used grains (corn, wheat, barley, rye, oats, etc.) healthfully for thousands of years. I think we need to moderate our portions. I personally could not imagine going the rest of my life without some yummy polenta, whole wheat sourdough bread or brown rice. That food makes me happy 🙂 Congratulations on your weight loss – keep up the GREAT work!

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  • Karen H.

    Thanks Andrea for all the information. You have really made a difference in my life. Your information is priceless. I love your cooking shows, they have changed my way of cooking. U were what I was looking for. I am eating the Paleo and Primal way mostly. My stomach is feeling a lot better. I love Quinoa so much. I’ve had to go pretty much gluten-free for my stomach’s sake. Everything I ate hurt so much!!! I stopped yogurt and wheat products and it has helped a lot. Thank u again and keep letting us know what we need to know for a better life of healthy eating.

  • jo

    My cholesterol is 269 and I worked for a cardiologist who was surprised. I eat a Meditereanian diet, lots of veggies & fruits, nuts, olive oil and very little red meat. I had a heart scan done and have NO plaque build up. I believe a heart scan is worth the $125 out of pocket for everyone.

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  • Rochelle

    This is such a wonderful article Andrea! I have a question though; what about those who have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol (despite a healthy diet and lifestyle)? In your opinion, should those people take statins?

    • Great question, Rochelle. I think genetics is only a small part in creating health. Have you read Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton? It’s a good one to check out if you have any hereditary or gene worries.

      Wishing you health,
      Andrea Beaman, HHC, AADP, Chef
      http://www.AndreaBeaman.com
      *
      *

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  • angela

    Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for all that you do!!! Question… my dad has had quadruple bypass surgery 3 years ago and in January had severe heart palpitations. As a result the doctors have put him back on Coumadin. He is really changing, cant sleep (dont know if thats psychological as he just turned 80 and didnt like that AT ALL) but he is a lot weaker, slower mentally and generally deteriorating in all ways. He is also on all the other drugs doctors usually put you on after heart surgery. He swears the coumadin is causing his sleep problems but I dont know. He hasn’t had a good nights sleep since January. Doctors say he is at high risk of stroke if he doesnt take coumadin… What is the alternative who should I take him to see??? help

    • Hi Angela – Your dad is blessed to have you looking out for his health and well-being. If your dad swears that the coumadin is stopping him from sleeping, tell him to trust his gut instinct. Here’s some info about Coumadin from Dr. Mercola. Follow the links to read more about heart disease and how to heal it naturally. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2004/07/21/aspirin-heart-part-three.aspx
      And, remember to just love your dad as much as possible right now. He’s 80 (give him a big hug!). Let him eat what he wants, let him live how he wants, let him enjoy his life as much as possible. If he made it to 80, he’s doing a lot right.

  • ThriveNaturally

    Love your message, just eat real. quality food! Truly nourishing ourselves is really the key to Thriving. Thank you for you very powerful and well thought out article. I will be sharing with my workplace wellness clients who are obsessed with cholesterol because their employer now screens for it as part of their benefit package. xoxo/MaryAnn

    • I’m so happy you are going to share it! Thank you. More folks needs to know the truth about cholesterol.

  • Erica

    Hi Andrea!
    My pediatrician recommended you! We went vegan two years ago, but we eat a whole foods diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and beans. We currently don’t use oil or refined sugar. We’re also all taking DHA supplements and multivitamins. My husband has been trying to lower his cholesterol with diet and did so successfully with Dr. McDougall’s diet, but it all went up when we started having too many grains, sweets and alcohol on the weekends. So now we’re following Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live program which is a vegan whole foods diet.

    My concern is whether my kids and I are getting everything we need. I’m interested in consuming animal proteins, but a nutritionist strongly recommended that we feed our kids an egg everyday.

    There is so much confusing and conflicting information!

    Erica

    • @75b9de05daac89c957b84ab7f818ff01:disqus – I agree with your pediatrician. For growing children I highly recommend eating them – in small quantities. An egg a day would be great. Veganism is a great way to “cleanse” the body. But, eventually, you’ll have to “build” the body. As in the case with growing children, they are in the “growing” and “building” process. I don’t believe veganism works for everyone. Here’s information about that: https://andreabeaman.com/recovering-from-veganism-and-other-isms/#.Ugzqhhb6Rm0

      • Denise Osborne

        That’s great information about Veganism, but how long is a person suppose to cleanse for great benefits before building the body? My 11 year old son and I are going to spring clean our liver. I’m just not sure how long is good.

  • Erica

    *I meant to say not interested in consuming animal proteins.

  • Margie

    Hi Andrea,

    I agree with everything in your article, but I was wondering if you have any experience or knowledge of someone who has had a heart attack and is now on Lipitor. My husband had a heart attack 10 years ago and has been on Lipitor ever since. I research the effects constantly and would love for him to go off, but his cardiologist says anyone who has had a heart attack needs to lower their cholesterol and that a statin will help prevent another heart attack. What are your thoughts?

  • Tracey Bell

    HI Andrea, elevated blood cholesterol levels are a well known major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This has been shown consistently in many studies, in particular the long running Framingham Study. To clear up confusion, elevated blood cholesterol can be attributed to consumption of saturated fat, trans-fatty acids and to a lesser extent dietary cholesterol (from animal products such as meat and eggs). It is estimated that for every 1 percent decrease in cholesterol levels, there’s a 2 to 4 percent decrease in heart disease risk. Vegan and vegetarian diets have consistently shown that they decrease risk of heart disease, particularly vegan diets where no animal products are consumed. They have also been shown to reverse heart disease (Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr John Macdougall, Dr Neal Barnard, Dr Dean Ornish and others have extensive clinical evidence of this). People with cholesterol levels less than 150mg/dl almost never suffer from heart disease. As for eggs ‘Researchers found that those who consumed the most eggs increased their risk for cardiovascular disease by 19 percent, and for those who already had diabetes, their risk for developing heart disease spiked to 83 percent. New research suggests that there may be a byproduct of choline, a component found at a high concentration in eggs, that increases one’s risk for a heart attack or stroke. (from http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/salmonella-and-other-egg-hazards-cooking-without).

    • @disqus_edsG13go3E:disqus -thanks for sharing your thoughts. The original Framingham Heart Study was conducted in 1948 and may be outdated. More recent studies show something completely different: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2014-03-18-saturated-fats-and-heart-disease-link-unproven/

      • Tracey Bell

        Hi Andrea, thanks for your reply :o) You are correct in saying that the Framingham Heart Study began in 1948, but it continues to this day and is one of the most significant long term studies on risk factors for CVD https://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/about-fhs/index.php. Yes, the meta analysis on saturated fat certainly caused confusion and controversy in the nutrition world. To add to the confusion, many other highly respected health professionals have since pointed out design flaws in the study and also questioned the links between the authors and the food industry, which is a worry. Dr John Macdougall, amongst others, provided a detailed explanation of the problems with the experimental design of the study: anaysis https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2014nl/apr/saturatedfat.htm. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine were concerned about that study as well and do not agree with the findings. These doctors have consistently shown in their own clinical studies that reducing cholesterol, saturated fat (ie. consumption of animal products) and increasing whole plant foods (plus changing other lifestyle patterns) can prevent and reverse heart disease. Cheers

  • Harry Weston

    I believe that statins are bad . And cholesterol is necessary . I also believe there are great nutrients available in eggs . That being said I think people who have high cholesterol should avoid or greatly limit egg consumption . If you dont have high cholesterol I would recommend eggs . I also recommend exercise and diet over statins for lowering cholesterol .
    Harry Weston CHHC

    • @harry_weston:disqus thanks for your insight. Very wise!

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