Is Cholesterol Really the Cause of Heart Disease?

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JWSimpkins

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We all know that cholesterol is bad for us, right? At least that's the story we've all been told by conventional medicine and government health agencies for decades now. But what would you say if I told you that cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease and that it's actually essential to your health and well-being?

In order to get a better understanding of why cholesterol is actually good for you, we first have to go back in time to 1956. This was the year that Elvis was singing about being a “hound dog” and it was also the year that the American Heart Association first introduced the Lipid Hypothesis to the world.

Back to the Future

The Lipid Hypothesis is the theory that eating saturated fats raises cholesterol in the blood leading to an increased risk of heart disease. It was a young biochemist named Ancel Keys who first formulated this theory after reading earlier research that fed purified cholesterol to rabbits, which caused them to develop atherosclerosis.

Keys also quantified the fat intake of various countries around the world and demonstrated a clear linear increase in rates of heart disease for those countries that consumed the most saturated fat. Other scientists, under pressure to explain the steep rise in heart disease from 10 percent of all deaths in 1900 to 30 percent of all deaths in 1950, quickly embraced the Lipid Hypothesis. There's only one problem… the Lipid Hypothesis is based on faulty science.

As I mentioned, the research that Ancel Keys based his Lipid Hypothesis on, used rabbits that were fed an oxidized form of cholesterol that isn't normally found in their herbivorous diets. Also, as much as I like carrots, rabbits aren't humans, so it's a bit of stretch to correlate dietary changes in rabbits to disease states in humans.

To make matters worse, for his study on fat consumption and heart disease rates around the world, Keys collected data on 22 different countries, but he only included the six countries that supported his hypothesis and excluded the countries that refuted it. Unfortunately junk science won the day and Keys went on to become famous. Go figure.


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By the early 1970's, The Lipid Hypothesis was widely adopted by the medical community and became the prevailing explanation for heart disease. This still holds true today, as companies offer us an endless array of low-fat “heart healthy” food products and sales of cholesterol lowering drugs have become a multibillion-dollar business. So if the Lipid Hypothesis is misinformation perpetuated in the name of profits, then what's the real truth about cholesterol and heart disease?

Cholesterol Does a Body Good?

Cholesterol is often mistaken for a fat, but it's actually a sterol molecule that is a vital structural membrane component of every cell in the body. The fact is cholesterol is so important to our survival that the liver produces 80 percent of it in the body, with the other 20 percent coming from the foods we eat. And this internal production is self-regulating as the more cholesterol rich foods you eat, the less cholesterol your liver makes, and vice versus.

Cholesterol is required to convert sunlight on your skin into activated vitamin D. It's also the foundation for the production of steroidal hormones (namely testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, cortisol, pregnenolone and progesterone) that support sex drive, immune function, build lean muscle, burn body fat, strengthen bones, maintain brain function and protect against a number of diseases such as cancer and yes, even heart disease.


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So why then does it get such a bad reputation when it comes to heart disease? Well to be fair cholesterol is found in the plaque that builds up in arteries leading to cardiovascular disease. However, just because cholesterol happens to appear at the scene of the crime doesn't mean that it's the culprit. In this case the real culprit is inflammation.

Cholesterol is generally broken down into two main categories: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as good and bad cholesterol respectively. However, these labels are a bit of a misnomer because both HDL and LDL cholesterol are neither good nor bad because they are both important for over all health. It's really only the smaller dense LDL particles that can be oxidized and thus squeeze through the lining of the arteries causing inflammation and damage.

If there is excessive inflammation in your body, it can cause damage to the lining of your arteries and your liver will respond by sending cholesterol to the rescue in an attempt to repair the damage – much like when you get a cut on your skin and a scab forms. Unfortunately if the inflammation persists, plaque continues to build up in your arteries and blood flow becomes restricted raising blood pressure and increasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

As you can see, cholesterol has a protective effect against inflammation, because it acts as an antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation in the body caused by excess accumulation of unstable molecules called free radicals.


Hidden Causes of Heart Disease

Although cholesterol has been singled out as the major causal factor in the development of heart disease, mainstream medicine has yet to produce a plausible explanation as to why it is that some individuals with high cholesterol have a heart attack, while others with low cholesterol suffer the same fate. Because pharmaceutical companies are making so much money selling statin drugs to lower cholesterol, other lesser-known factors for heart disease are often overlooked.

The Life Extension Foundation has identified the following additional risk factors involved in the development of heart disease:

* Low testosterone
* Excessively high or low estrogen
* High homocysteine
* Low vitamin D
* Hyperinsulinemia
* Low EPD/DHA
* High blood sugar
* Excess fibrinogen
* Nitric oxide deficiency
* Low vitamin K
* High triglycerides
* Elevated C-reactive protein
* Hypertension

So as you can see, despite its reputation as public enemy #1 when it comes to heart disease, cholesterol is but a bit player when it comes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Since covering each of the additional risk factors listed above is beyond the scope of this article, let's continue our examination of cholesterol.

Keeping Cholesterol In-Check

From all of the evidence presented thus far, it does appear that cholesterol has a slightly Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality when it comes to its functionality in the human body. In order to keep cholesterol working as a force for good in your body, it's imperative that you incorporate a few simple nutritional rules into your daily routine to help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.

#1. In order for cholesterol to be converted into the steroidal hormones in your body, there must be sufficient available stores of vitamin A, copper and the active thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3). Individuals with chronically elevated cholesterol are often found to be deficient in these three variables. The best source for vitamin A is beef, chicken or buffalo liver (pastured raised) eaten twice weekly. Excellent sources for copper are oysters, kale, mushrooms and sesame seeds.

Optimizing thyroid function will help produce sufficient levels of T3 and this can be achieved by adequate intakes of iodine and selenium from foods such as seaweed and Brazil nuts. It's also a good idea to avoid thyroid suppressive foods such as soy, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils and gluten.

#2. Over consumption of sugar can cause higher than normal levels of circulating insulin, and insulin being an inflammatory hormone, can cause damage to the lining of arterial walls. High blood sugar can also damage tissues throughout your body by crosslinking with proteins in a process called glycation, which accelerates the aging process. Reduce or eliminate all sources of refined sugar in your diet and stick with healthy carbohydrates like vegetables and fruits.

#3. One of the biggest health scams perpetrated on the general public has been the marketing of “heart healthy” vegetable oils. These polyunsaturated oils are highly unstable and susceptible to oxidation from light, heat and air. This oxidation causes these oils to become rancid and increases the production of free radicals that attack and degrade cellular membranes through a process called lipid peroxidation.

Avoid cooking with canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, and especially avoid trans fats. Trans fats are typically listed on nutrition labels as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Instead cook with butter, palm oil, coconut oil and even lard if it comes from pasture raised animals. Only use olive oil as a cold dressing or for any low heat cooking. In order to ensure that you have adequate levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, eat oily fish such as wild caught salmon or trout at least twice per week or take supplemental fish oil if need be.

#4. Consuming adequate amounts of soluble fiber can have a powerful cholesterol lowering effect in your body. Excellent sources of soluble fiber are beans, legumes, fruit, oats, raw carrots and ground flax seeds. Try eating approximately 20 – 30 gm of soluble fiber daily.

#5. If your cholesterol levels are chronically elevated and/or you have a family history of heart disease, then there are various nutritional supplements that you can take to help lower your total cholesterol, have a better cholesterol to HDL ratio, and prevent the oxidation of the smaller dense LDL particles.

- Vitamin C, vitamin E and grape seed extract are powerful antioxidants that help to reduce the production of free radicals, therefore preventing inflammation and the oxidation of the smaller dense LDL particles in your bloodstream.

Recommended Dosage: Vitamin C w/ bioflavonoids (1 -2 gm per day), vitamin E w/ mixed tocopherols (400 – 800 IU per day) and grape seed extract (100 – 200 mg per day).

- Niacin or vitamin B3 does an excellent job at lowering the amount of small dense LDL particles produced in the body and studies have shown that it can help reduce your risk of heart attack by up to 30 percent!

Recommended dosage: Niacin (500 – 1000 mg per day). It will only work if it's “real” niacin, which causes a hot flushing sensation shortly after ingesting it. This flushing sensation tends to become less pronounced over time as your body gets used to the higher dose. Slow release non-flushing niacin products do not work to lower cholesterol.

Note: Since niacin can impact the liver, if you do decided to take more than 500 mg per day, it's important that you have periodic blood tests done to monitor liver function.

Conclusion

By now you should have come to the realization that cholesterol is not the bogeyman that it has been made out to be, and that it's actually essential to your health. By incorporating the nutritional suggestions mentioned in this article, you can help to ensure that cholesterol works for rather than against you.

J.W. Simpkins is a nutrition and exercise coach, specializing in men's health and performance. You can read more of his articles at his blog Fit Men Over 40.
 
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Defy Medical TRT clinic doctor
Good article. I had an alternative doctor 15 years ago tell me cholesterol was good and that trying to correct it was like trying to keep firemen away from a fire. Correct the underlying issues and all is good.
 
Unfortunately he was expensive, I was broke and it took years to find another one who wouldn't constantly try and drop my numbers. He also pointed out that he thought it indicated a hormone imbalance as well. His thought was that if we were lacking a hormone in the pathway then the body would boost cholesterol to try and boost levels.
 
When I first went on trt my cholesterol dropped substantially. I havent checked it in a while so I don't know if it held.

I'm remembering all kinds of things he said now that I think about it. He felt that the over prescription of statins was one of the causes of low testosterone in men. Drop the source hormone too far and all others in the pathway follow suit.

Granted it isn't all that cut and dry but he was pretty forward thinking for the time.
 
Great article, i'm not a doctor, but i heard about it that cholesterol cause of heart diseases and I think it's true.
But really its a great article.
 
Great article, i'm not a doctor, but i heard about it that cholesterol cause of heart diseases and I think it's true.
But really its a great article.
 
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Cholesterol enables your body to assemble new cells, protect nerves, and create hormones. Typically, the liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs. Be that as it may, cholesterol additionally enters your body from foods, for example, animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. A lot of cholesterol in your body is a hazard factor for heart disease.

At the point when there is excessively cholesterol in your blood, it develops in the walls of your supply routes, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood stream to the heart muscle is backed off or blocked. The blood supplies oxygen to the heart, and if insufficient blood and oxygen reach your heart, you may endure chest pain. On the off chance that the blood supply to a bit of the heart is totally cut off by a blockage, the outcome is a heart attack.
 
Cholesterol enables your body to assemble new cells, protect nerves, and create hormones. Typically, the liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs. Be that as it may, cholesterol additionally enters your body from foods, for example, animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. A lot of cholesterol in your body is a hazard factor for heart disease.

At the point when there is excessively cholesterol in your blood, it develops in the walls of your supply routes, causing a process called atherosclerosis, a type of heart disease. The arteries become narrowed and blood stream to the heart muscle is backed off or blocked. The blood supplies oxygen to the heart, and if insufficient blood and oxygen reach your heart, you may endure chest pain. On the off chance that the blood supply to a bit of the heart is totally cut off by a blockage, the outcome is a heart attack.




Such a simplistic view you have.....when is the last time you left the box?



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If it´s not cholesterol and and/or trig (lipids) that clog the arteries what els would it be. I´ve hypercholesterolemia by my genetics and I´m sure that I would been stone dead for years if I hadn´t taken statins for 20 years by now. I think it´s a combination together with sugar. Just my laymen opinion
 
Indeed Vince there must be more to than high lipids that can cause a CVD etc,,,,I wonder if we ever will get to know real combinations.
However people do live longer though being on statins and anti cogulants (blood thinner) especially after an infarct.
 
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Indeed Vince there must be more to than high lipids that can cause a CVD etc,,,,I wonder if we ever will get to know real combinations.
However people do live longer though being on statins and anti cogulants (blood thinner) especially after an infarct.

LOL! Except for those that these drugs maim and kill.
 
Indeed Vince there must be more to than high lipids that can cause a CVD etc,,,,I wonder if we ever will get to know real combinations.
However people do live longer though being on statins and anti cogulants (blood thinner) especially after an infarct.

What really helped my cholesterol lipid panel was going low carbs eating a lot of good healthy fat.

Vince's Latest Lipid Panel From 10/9/17

https://www.excelmale.com/forum/showthread.php?12290-Vince-s-Latest-Lipid-Panel-From-10-9-17
 
For me its a paradox that many carbs aren´t good for you but if you think about how much rice the Asians eat and pasta the italians eat. Do they have more diabetes, other health issues than the rest of us that eat less carbs?
 
If it´s not cholesterol and and/or trig (lipids) that clog the arteries what els would it be. I´ve hypercholesterolemia by my genetics and I´m sure that I would been stone dead for years if I hadn´t taken statins for 20 years by now. I think it´s a combination together with sugar. Just my laymen opinion

LDL particles damage your artery walls causing small tears. Those tears get repaired by calcium deposits. Unfortunately when those calcium deposits get too large they narrow the artery and cause problems. Monitoring of your calcium is very important. If you have calcium build up, you want as little year to year progress as possible - it's still up for debate on actually lowering your calcium score. Cholesterol tests without particle counts are mostly useless, however looking at your triglyceride to HDL ratio can be the first clue that you need to dive deeper. If Trig:HDL is over 2 you should look at getting an NMR Lipoprofile which will show all your particle counts and sizes. If you have high particle counts then you should get a Calcium Heart Scan which will reveal any CVD progress.

For the most part, the roots start with insulin resistance (Hyperinsulinemia) and metabolic syndrome (pretty much the list of hidden causes in OP).

Everyone over 40 should watch this video.

 
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