Cholesterol, quite simply, is essential for life. Only 7% of the body’s soft, waxy substance is actually found in the bloodstream, while the remaining 93% is in every cell in your body, where it helps to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that are responsible for the breakdown of fat. Cholesterol is also vital for neurological function and normal electrical transmission for the brain and nerves, regulating the flow of nutrients into and waste products out of cells, and repairing damage to the body.
Contrary to what society has been taught about cholesterol, only a small amount comes directly from food; your liver makes about 75 percent of your body’s cholesterol, and its levels are regulated inside the trillions of cells that altogether make up our bodies.
According to conventional medicine there are two types of cholesterol: High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL). However, as our knowledge about cholesterol has increased, so too has the theory that there is actually only one true type of cholesterol. In this more modern hypothesis, HDL and LDL are the main “vehicles” by which cholesterol is transported throughout the body, while cholesterol itself is the “passenger” along for the ride. Despite these differing opinions, experts do still seem to agree on both the beneficial and lesser so roles cholesterol plays in the health of our bodies.
- High-density lipoprotein or HDL: This is the “good” cholesterol that helps keep cholesterol away from your arteries and remove any excess from arterial plaque, which may help to prevent heart disease. HDL transports cholesterol back from tissues to the liver for recycling, scavenges cholesterol from damaged arteries, and higher levels of this lipoprotein have been shown to reduce heart disease.
- Low-density lipoprotein or LDL: LDL, in opposition to HDL, transports cholesterol away from the liver to damaged tissue and cells. This “bad” cholesterol circulates in your blood and, according to conventional thinking, may build up in your arteries, forming plaques that make your arteries narrow and less flexible (a condition called atherosclerosis). If a clot forms in one of these narrowed arteries leading to your heart or brain, a heart attack or stroke may result.
The flow of HDL one-way and LDL the other is what medical researchers have used to quantify risk for heart disease.
Also making up your total cholesterol count are:
- Triglycerides: Elevated levels of this dangerous fat have been linked to heart disease and diabetes. Triglyceride levels are known to rise from eating too many grains and sugars, being physically inactive, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol excessively and being overweight or obese.
- Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a): Lp(a) is a substance that is made up of an LDL “bad cholesterol” part plus a protein (apoprotein a). Elevated Lp(a) levels are a very strong risk factor for heart disease. This has been well established, yet very few physicians check for it in their patients.
Cholesterol has long been blamed for the ever-increasing rate of heart disease and atherosclerosis in our society, when in reality it is the substance that is working overtime in our bodies to keep us alive. Study upon study has the general public, as well as medical professionals, convinced that these buildup of arterial plaques are composed of cholesterol, but the real culprit is the deluge of new-fangled hydrogenated and trans fats filling our processed and fried foods, and subsequently our arteries and hearts. These Franken-fats are not currently, nor have they ever been, found in whole foods provided by nature. They are man-made poisons, developed by the big food giants in an attempt to increase product output without increasing costs. Just like any other synthetic product, our bodies cannot recognize these fats or else they recognize them just enough to incorporate them into cells where they don’t belong because they cannot carry out the same functions as their organic counterpart. Over time, the body realizes it cannot use these imposters and they are shuttled into the arteries for disposal with other wastes. However, the same problem of being unrecognizable that caused the molecules to be rejected from the cells in the first place, takes its toll again, and the discarded rancid fats now begin to buildup and create the dreaded plaques. As these plaques grow larger and more obstructive, they also cause inflammation and eventually small tears in the arterial walls. Now, remember earlier when it was mentioned that cholesterol helps repair damage to the body? This is where cholesterol becomes the hero. When tears develop in artery walls, cholesterol is shuttled in and acts like a patch, plugging the holes so that nothing gets through that shouldn’t. This is why when surgeons perform procedures dealing with clogged arteries or backed-up hearts, cholesterol is the unfortunate fall guy; it’s at the scene of the crime, so it must be the criminal. When really cholesterol is the hero wrongly accused.
For those who still believe cholesterol is undoubtedly to blame for the dramatic rise in heart disease and other arterial diseases in the last century, here is some food for thought: Why would a substance that has existed in our bodies since the beginning of our existence (cholesterol), suddenly cause the staggering numbers of disease and death we are seeing? Wouldn’t it make sense that right around the time of the invention of foreign, unrecognizable fats and oils, our society started to become overweight, unhealthy, toxic and diseased? Even though this makes absolute scientific and logical sense, doctors continue to feed us lies supporting the opposite because they are funded and supported by the pharmacies that create, produce and sell the sea of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Even more frightening? These big pharma companies are funded by none other than the big food giants who created and pollute our food supply with these exact fats that are responsible for ruining our health in the first place. So you see, it is not in the best interest of doctors or even pharmaceutical companies to acknowledge the real culprit clogging our arteries; if they admitted that the key to decreasing levels of heart disease in our society is to simply stop eating their unrecognizable processed garbage and go back to our traditional diet consisting of real, whole foods, their empires would crumble.