Your healthy diet may be killing you slowly. We have always known the importance of keeping a balance between heart and mind. This is especially true when it comes to the “low cholesterol diet”. It seems that what we’ve been told about cholesterol all these years, may actually be a fat lie!
Too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol (I’ll get into that in a bit) can block your arteries and may in fact be bad for your heart. The question is, how much is too much? No one seems to be able to answer that for sure, however the vast majority of those who have a heart attack have “so-called” normal levels of cholesterol 1.
What we know for certain is that cholesterol is essential for our survival. All our cell walls are made of cholesterol; it is needed for production and balance of most major hormones in our body, be it sexual or stress-fighting hormones, above all one-fourth of our brain is made of cholesterol. Thus, studies show better mental health with higher cholesterol 2.
Yes, cholesterol is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of our body, but you may be surprised to know that its levels are not dependent on dietary input. Cholesterol is produced in our liver, and certain kind of dietary fats provide construction material for it.
How much cholesterol and what kind of cholesterol our body produces is largely decided by our genetics, which can’t be modified, however there is a whole new area of research (epigenetics) which indicates, we can still be in charge of how our genes behave, by eating, exercising and living healthier lives.
There are two types of cholesterol in our body; one is called good and another bad. High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) is the “so-called” good cholesterol that protects our heart, and Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) is the “so-called” bad one, as it may block the arteries.
There are many questions not fully answered yet. Is cholesterol the only risk factor for heart attack and blocked arteries? Surely not, or so many people with normal cholesterol wouldn’t be suffering from heart problems. Is LDL the only culprit? No again! In fact, some studies have demonstrated that LDL may not really be that bad after all and may help to keep memory sharp well into old age3.
Statins are the most commonly prescribed drugs designed to suppress the “so-called” bad cholesterol. And they do their job all too well. The question is; are the harming or helping us in the process? After all, they do not suppress just bad lipids, and not only in the blood stream, which leads to many side effects. They are known to interfere with the metabolism of co-enzyme Q10, which is required for energy metabolism of all cells. A loss of co-enzyme Q10 leads to muscular pains, myopathies and the inability for your heart to make enough energy to run it properly. Statins also cross into the brain, which could be bad for its functioning. Hence, I strongly recommend co-enzyme Q10 supplements when on therapy with these drugs 4, 5, or better yet, find a physician that can take you off of them and work towards a better solution.
Thus, what we know is that cholesterol is vital for our existence, it is needed for hormonal health and functioning of the brain, it is essential for the functioning of cells. Trying to label one kind of cholesterol as a villain is not the right approach, neither fully proven. And aggressively trying to decrease cholesterol with strict diet or medications may not only lack benefits, it may downright harm you.