The dreaded word: Cholesterol.
It's bad, right? Whenever you hear someone talking of cholesterol, it's typically associated with the words heart disease or atherosclerosis. Bad stuff, which means many people have a negative connotation when it relates to cholesterol.
The truth is cholesterol is vital to normal body function. Produced by the liver, cholesterol exists in the outer layer of every cell in our body. It is crucial in metabolizing fat soluble vitamins and essential in producing important hormones.
Below are some common misconceptions regarding cholesterol that may be surprising to many. But if you do a little digging and a little research, you will learn to look beyond the marketing ploys and become informed on important cholesterol facts.
1. Having high blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis.
If high cholesterol produces atherosclerosis, then people with high cholesterol should have higher incidences of atherosclerosis than people with low cholesterol, right? Not so. Studies have shown there is no correlation between cholesterol levels in the blood and atherosclerosis in the vessels. Read here and here.
2. Dietary cholesterol impacts blood cholesterol.
If a diet high in animal fat causes a rise in blood cholesterol, why do the Inuit's -Eskimos who eat predominantly seal meat, blubber and fat and almost completely devoid of greens, fruit and fiber - have very low blood cholesterol levels? Or why some tribes in Africa - Samburu & Masai - who eat a couple of pounds of meat and 2 gallons of raw cow's milk daily have lower blood cholesterol than the average American, who consumes halve the amount of animal fat (Samburu's cows are fatter!)? Or shepherds in Somalia, who drink the equivalent of 1 pound of butter fat in camel's milk - about 60% energy from animal fat - still have low blood cholesterol levels.*
3. High cholesterol causes heat attacks.
If that's the case, why is it that most people that have heart attacks, have low cholesterol? Or why do 50% of people that have heart attacks were those that did not fall into the general risk factors for heart attack? Read more here.
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*Mann GV, Shaffer RD, Sandstead HH. Cardiovascular disease in the Masai. Journal of Atherosclerosis Research
*Bulletin of the World Health Organization