Dietary Cholesterol Myth: Saturated Fat is Not An Enemy | Chris Kresser
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The Diet-Heart Myth: Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Are Not the Enemy

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To read more about heart disease and cholesterol, check out this eBook on the Diet–Heart Myth.

It’s hard to overstate the impact that cardiovascular disease (CVD) has in the U.S.. Consider the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease affects 65 million Americans.
  • Close to one million Americans have a heart attack each year.
  • In the U.S., one person dies every 39 seconds of cardiovascular disease.
  • 1 of 3 deaths that occurs in the U.S. is caused by cardiovascular disease.
  • 1 in 3 Americans have metabolic syndrome, a cluster of major cardiovascular risk factors related to overweight/obesity and insulin resistance.
  • The total cost of cardiovascular disease in 2008 was estimated at $300 billion.

To put that last statistic in perspective, the World Health Organization has estimated that ending world hunger would cost approximately $195 billion. One might argue that the $300 billion we spend on treating cardiovascular disease in the U.S. is a necessary expenditure; however, a recent study which looked at the relationship between heart disease and lifestyle suggested that 90% of CVD is caused by modifiable diet and lifestyle factors. (1)

Unfortunately, cardiovascular disease is one of the most misdiagnosed and mistreated conditions in medicine. We’ve learned a tremendous amount about what causes heart disease over the past decade, but the medical establishment is still operating on outdated science from 40-50 years ago.

In this 4-part series, I’m going to debunk 3 common myths about heart disease:

  1. Eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol levels in the blood.
  2. High cholesterol in the blood is the cause of heart disease.
  3. Statins save lives in healthy people without heart disease.

In the fourth and final article in the series, I’ll discuss strategies for naturally protecting yourself against heart disease and improving your heart health.

Myth #1: Eating Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Raises Cholesterol Levels in the Blood.

Most of us grew up being told that foods like red meat, eggs and bacon raise our cholesterol levels. This idea is so deeply ingrained in our cultural psyche that few people even question it. But is it really true?

The diet-heart hypothesis—which holds that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our blood—originated with studies in both animals and humans more than half a century ago. However, more recent (and higher quality) evidence doesn’t support it.

Cholesterol and saturated fat: dietary enemies or innocent victims of bad science?Tweet This

On any given day, we have between 1,100 and 1,700 milligrams of cholesterol in our body. 25% of that comes from our diet, and 75% is produced inside of our bodies by the liver. Much of the cholesterol that’s found in food can’t be absorbed by our bodies, and most of the cholesterol in our gut was first synthesized in body cells and ended up in the gut via the liver and gall bladder. The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production; when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down, the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.

This explains why well-designed cholesterol feeding studies (where they feed volunteers 2-4 eggs a day and measure their cholesterol) show that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in about 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of the population are referred to as “hyper-responders”. In this group, dietary cholesterol does modestly increase both LDL (“bad cholesterol” and HDL (“good cholesterol”), but it does not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL or increase the risk of heart disease. (2)

In other words, eating cholesterol isn’t going to give you a heart attack. You can ditch the egg-white omelettes and start eating yolks again. That’s a good thing, since all of the 13 essential nutrients eggs contain are found in the yolk. Egg yolks are an especially good source of choline, a B-vitamin that plays important roles in everything from neurotransmitter production to detoxification to maintenance of healthy cells. (3) Studies show that up to 90% of Americans don’t get enough choline, which can lead to fatigue, insomnia, poor kidney function, memory problems and nerve-muscle imbalances. (4)

What about saturated fat? It’s true that some studies show that saturated fat intake raises blood cholesterol levels. But these studies are almost always short-term, lasting only a few weeks. (5) Longer-term studies have not shown an association between saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol levels. In fact, of all of the long-term studies examining this issue, only one of them showed a clear association between saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels, and even that association was weak. (6)

Moreover, studies on low-carbohydrate diets (which tend to be high in saturated fat) suggest that they not only don’t raise blood cholesterol, they have several beneficial impacts on cardiovascular disease risk markers. For example, a meta-analysis of 17 low-carb diet trials covering 1,140 obese patients published in the journal Obesity Reviews found that low-carb diets neither increased nor decreased LDL cholesterol. However, they did find that low-carb diets were associated with significant decreases is body weight as well as improvements in several CV risk factors, including decreases in triglycerides, fasting glucose, blood pressure, body mass index, abdominal circumference, plasma insulin and c-reactive protein, as well as an increase in HDL cholesterol. (7)

If you’re wondering whether saturated fat may contribute to heart disease in some way that isn’t related to cholesterol, a large meta-analysis of prospective studies involving close to 350,000 participants found no association between saturated fat and heart disease. (8) A Japanese prospective study that followed 58,000 men for an average of 14 years found no association between saturated fat intake and heart disease, and an inverse association between saturated fat and stroke (i.e. those who ate more saturated fat had a lower risk of stroke). (9)

That said, just as not everyone responds to dietary cholesterol in the same manner, there’s some variation in how individuals respond to dietary saturated fat. If we took ten people, fed them a diet high in saturated fat, and measured their cholesterol levels, we’d see a range of responses that averages out to no net increase or decrease. (If dietary saturated fat does increase your total or LDL cholesterol, the more important question is whether that’s a problem. I’ll address that in the next article in this series.)

Another strike against the diet-heart hypothesis is that many of its original proponents haven’t believed it for at least two decades. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991, Ancel Keys, the founder of the diet-heart hypothesis said (10):

Dietary cholesterol has an important effect on the cholesterol level in the blood of chickens and rabbits, but many controlled experiments have shown that dietary cholesterol has a limited effect in humans. Adding cholesterol to a cholesterol-free diet raises the blood level in humans, but when added to an unrestricted diet, it has a minimal effect.

In a 2004 editorial in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, Sylvan Lee Weinberg, former president of the American College of Cardiology and outspoken proponent of the diet-heart hypothesis, said (11):

The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet… may well have played an unintended role in the current epidemics of obesity, lipid abnormalities, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndromes. This diet can no longer be defended by appeal to the authority of prestigious medical organizations.

We’ve now established that eating cholesterol and saturated fat does not increase cholesterol levels in the blood for most people. In the next article, I’ll debunk the myth that high cholesterol in the blood is the cause of heart disease.

Research Spotlight: Health Coaching and Heart Health

Behavioral Counseling Dose-Dependently Improves Blood Lipid Levels

Oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol plays a critical role in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). High circulating levels of LDL cholesterol increase the likelihood that LDL may become oxidized, contributing to CVD pathogenesis. Diet and lifestyle changes have been found to reduce LDL cholesterol, but many patients have trouble sustaining nutrition and lifestyle changes over the long term. Behavioral counseling may help patients at risk for CVD maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors, and thus support improved long-term health outcomes. A 2019 study sought to examine the combined effects of behavioral counseling and healthy lifestyle changes on LDL cholesterol levels in adults with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension, who are at an elevated risk of CVD.

Study Summary

  • Seven hundred fifty-six adults with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension were randomized to one of three groups:
    • Advice-Only Group: Participants were given information about nutrition and lifestyle approaches for improving CVD risk factors, including dietary sodium restriction, weight loss, exercise, and a “healthy diet.”
    • Established Lifestyle Intervention Group: Participants were educated about healthy diet and lifestyle changes and provided with behavioral counseling.
    • Established + Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Lifestyle Intervention Group: Participants were instructed about healthy diet and lifestyle changes, behavioral counseling, and the DASH diet.
  • Subjects in the “Established Lifestyle Intervention” and “Established + DASH Lifestyle Intervention” groups experienced significant reductions in LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol after six months compared to the “Advice-Only” group.
  • For every 10 sessions of behavioral counseling, LDL cholesterol decreased by 6.2 mg/dL.
  • The relationship between the number of behavioral counseling sessions attended and reductions in LDL cholesterol and triglycerides was mediated by a decrease in waist circumference, suggesting that the combination of behavioral counseling and lifestyle changes reduces visceral adiposity.

Key Findings

A combination of healthy lifestyle changes and behavioral counseling can reduce LDL cholesterol in individuals with hypertension and may thus reduce their future risk of CVD. Attending more behavioral counseling sessions appears to lead to more significant improvements in CVD risk factors. Frequent health coaching sessions, combined with the administration of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress reduction advice, may be a valuable model for improving long-term health in people with CVD risk factors.

Reference: Dose-dependent effects of lifestyle interventions on blood lipid levels: Results from the PREMIER trial.

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546 Comments

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  1. I recently found out about a study “Cutting down or changing the fat we eat may reduce our risk of heart disease” found at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD002137/cutting-down-or-changing-the-fat-we-eat-may-reduce-our-risk-of-heart-disease#sthash.gzBaFNlL.dpuf

    The methodology and details are restricted from the general public, but they find that there was a 14% increase in probability of having a cardiovascular event for those eating saturated fat over mono or polyunsaturated fat.

    I can think of a few potential reasons for this, but was wondering if you have reviewed this study and have any thoughts regarding it. For example, were those that died of a cardiovascular event consuming a high carbohydrate diet as well? Was it a primary event or did they have previous events – meaning they would’ve had pre-existing inflammation?

    Thanks!

  2. Sept 2011
    HDL 40
    LDL 87
    TG 274.

    This is what happened when I started drinking full fat milk, eating butter, using cream on my cereal and eating lots of bacon

    9/18/2012:
    Total Cholesterol 177
    HDL 51 (very good)
    LDL 93 (very good)
    Triglyceride 163

  3. Hey Chris, I have been following your Healthy Skeptic articles since 2011. My triglycerides have jumped (doubled to 350-450; total cholesterol stable at 250) as a result of not watching my (ie freely consuming) saturated fat intake of fats such as butter, fats on meat etc; I loved eggs and was consuming eggs containing good Omega 3 (seaweed feed). Consuming 3g of DHA from Nordic Naturals “DHA” each day and supplementing as well fresh salmon once a week helped my HDL marginally (43), with my LDL remaining stubbornly high (150). My daily breakfast of wholegrain oats and fresh ground flax seed also didn’t dent my bad cholesterol profile. During this period, I liberally consumed monosaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil and avocados.

    About 9 months ago, I switched to Red Yeast Rice and Resveratrol; for the last 2 months, I increased the dose of Lovastin to 3g a day. I am happy to report that my triglycerides have dropped to 240, total cholesterol to 200-210, and HDL has jumped back to 43-50. My LDL also dropped to 110. I have completely stopped my intake of fish oil pills, salmon, and eggs. I still indulge in burgers, KFC, or fried food every now and then.

    My weight has been stable at 115-120 kg. I am 1.8 meters tall.

    • It looks like that while you were consuming the higher levels of fats you were also consuming a decent amount of carbohydrates. That’s a BIG NO. If you’re going to go high fat, you really need to go low(er) carb.

  4. I take in next to no sugar per se, but I still enjoy sweet treats in moderation. I use xylitol, stevia, and raw honey. I eat eggs, butter, cheese and drink whole milk – again, in moderation. Plenty of vegetables cooked and raw, a bit of fruit (when I can find decent fruit, something of a challenge these days). I take a lot of supplements including 2 grams of niacin/day, which has cholesterol-lowering properties (though that’s not the reason I take it). I eat a lot of garlic and/or take a garlic extract, which also lowers cholesterol. Other items I take regularly which I think help keep me in balance: chia seeds, tahini. unflavored gelatin, Tulsi tea, apple cider vinegar, Lugol’s iodine.

    I do yoga (the Tibetan Five Rites of Rejuvenation) and lots of outdoor walking.
    Actually, my cholesterol levels have never been a concern. Just sharing what I feel has kept me healthy, active and youthful at 60+!

    • Cmoretti,
      No sweets meaning no Stevia and the like, that stuff just doesnt taste right. I am strict with myself due to the fact I dont want to go back to the way I was. And the crap thats in our food these days is so addicting thats why so many people are huge.
      I like meat and fish and veges I do like my fruits to which I do eat but in moderation like blueberrys strawberries and Rasberries.
      I cannot eat wheat rice or any grain no corn etc it makes me ill. Bloated feeling and heartburn etc not worth it.

      • And grain fed No i buy my meat from a grass fed only rancher half a beef at a time every 6 months or so, and grain fed fish nope I buy it none farmed or catch fish myself.

  5. Over the past eight months I have made three lifestyle changes. Near elimination of sugar, near elimination of grains and eating full fat yogurt, ghee, coconut oil, bacon, cream, 4% cottage cheese and full fat cheese. My total cholesterol went from 208 in a year to 237! LDL went from 87 to 126 and HDL went from 107 down to 98. My MD concurred that my lifestyle change with consumption of too much saturated fat has altered my cholesterol in a negative way and didn’t even mention meds, which was good. I have some fitness and diet goals in mind for the next year and have already begun implementation!

    • Susan id cut down your intake of dairy to much fat isnt good either and you want more protein in your diet. Another thing is you have to cut out sugar totally and grains do it and see what happens. Again saturated fat doesnt affect cholesterol if that was the case i would be at 400 LDL and not 126

      • Dairy has sugar in it, it is called lactose and breaks down in our bodies as galactose and glucose. If you are eating any grains, flour, wheat, or rice these turn into sugar in you body. If you have increased your intake of dairy that could be the culprit. Oh and lets not forget HFCS which is automatically turned into triglycerides in the body. Just one drink a day can have devastating effects. Could this be your “near elimination” of reducing to one store bought drink a day? I really thought I was eating a very low sugar diet until I got a list of all of the names for sugar and found that everything in my fridge was full of it including supposedly healthy dairy. Condiments were the worst. Most had the first three or four ingredients was sugar! Also keep in mind that if you are eating regular store bought beef and not grass fed you are getting the sugar from the grains that they are fed! Yep, ground beef with sugar, not as nature intended.

    • how many carbs (g) were you at per day? the yogurt and cottage cheese could kick that up? also were you actively losing weight at the time? during the phase where fat is being shed, your numbers WILL go up.

  6. Hi Chris:

    I just Rhett’s post and I’m flabbergasted, because it sounds like me, except that I’m 40 y/rs older.10 wks ago I had labs that were high ldl, trig & total. My doctor suggested Lipitor, but I opted to drastically cut back on fats instead. 8 wks later new labs revealed higher trigs, ldl, & lower hdl. I’ve been at my wits end trying to figure out how this could be. I’m slim and I’m active. I do love candy and ate lots of fat free candy while cutting back fats! If sugar is a culprit, why don’t we hear about this? I love my carbs too. I would love to find a diet that would work. It sounds like Rhett found the key to his problem.

    • Why don’t we hear about sugar being a culprit? Well, we do to some extent, but fat gets more attention because the experts, study directors, and drug companies like to bury the truth so they can have doctors prescribe more of their (the drug companies’) drugs, making the drug companies gain millions or billions on the millions or billions they already have (sounds like greed to me).

      It works like this: the people performing the study test their hypothesis (in this case, how diet affects cholesterol levels, and how cholesterol affects heart disease risk). While there is a correlation (notice — correlation; not causation) between cholesterol and heart disease and overall mortality, they found that in almost every case, there was either no correlation between a dietary factor and cholesterol levels, or the correlation was the opposite of what they expected. So, they continue to play around with the data to find a link, and still find no link, or the opposite of what they are looking for. In response, they seal up the evidence, and report to the general public that the results proved their hypothesis right, or they just say that the evidence is meaningless and that the specific dietary modifications (that they found to be wrong) are still valid. To see an article about the specific study I am referring to (brace yourself; this may come as a bit of a surprise), go to http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/cardiovascular-disease/framingham-follies/ . Yes, the Framingham study, which seems to be well quoted in defense of the diet-heart hypothesis, is the study I am referring to.

      Once the lies are out to the general public, doctors, schools, and universities preach low fat diets, low cholesterol diets, and all of the other lies that came from the studies. People take their advice — and guess what — up goes obesity rates; up goes high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes rates; up goes heart disease rates. As more people develop these conditions, doctors see more patients with these conditions and prescribe more drugs to these patients. As doctors prescribe more drugs, more people buy these drugs; as more people buy these drugs, more revenue is created for the drug companies; as more revenue is created for the drug companies, the drug companies make millions or billions on top of the millions or billions they already have, feeding their greed — and the vicious cycle goes on and on. Worse yet, once a person has had a heart attack, related procedure, or even chest pain, that person is permanently considered high risk even if that person has no other risk factors; and if that person’s doctor knows about it, that person may even be a lifetime statin patient.

  7. I was on a diet of about 40%fat and 45%carb. The fat breakdown was about 15%SFA, 55%MUFA, 30%PUFA. No oils except Olive oil. The PUFA was mostly from walnuts. My Cholesterol was 130Total, 65LDL, 50HDL, 90TG.
    I changed it to 25%fat and 55%Carb. The fat breakdown was about 50%SFA, 30%MUFA, 20%PUFA. No oils except Olive oil. My Cholesterol was 180Total, 125LDL, 40HDL, 95TG.
    The SFA or Carbs did seem to raise my LDL and total, but I feel that it was needed. I am trying to bump my HDL back up to 45 or 50 to improve the ratio’s. Increase MUFA’s a bit?

    • 55% carbs? no way… too much if you’re kicking up the fat. and what type of carbs are we talking here? grains? sugar? vegetables/root/tubers? all of this will make a difference.

    • You’re right that it was needed — you raised your total cholesterol from severely low (<140 mg/dL) to healthy (160-199 mg/dL) and optimal (180-199 mg/dL). Congratulations.

      Your ratios do seem to have all gone from optimal to acceptable; however, I do not really know much about raising HDL-cholesterol. However, I can give you some tips that will reduce your heart disease risk regardless of your ratios.

      What you want to do is to first of all, aim for about 50%-55% of your calories from carbohydrates and about 15%-20% of your calories from protein. The remaining 25%-35% of your calories should come from fat. Remember that fat contains 9 calories per gram and carbohydrates and protein contain 4 calories per gram. Try to consume about 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories you consume and at least 7%-10% of your total calories from saturated fat (more won't hurt). Consume the recommended amount of each vitamin and mineral, and consume as little of your calories as possible from sugar (with the exception of the sugar in whole fruits and vegetables), processed foods, trans fats, and anything with the terms "hydrogenated," "fractionated," "lard," or "shortening" anywhere in the ingredients. Stay away from drugs and tobacco, and do not consume diet sodas or anything else with artificial sweeteners, as these are poison.

  8. I have been on a low carb way of eating for over a year my cholesterol dropped the good went up the ldl went down. I am 44 years old a test every month isnt a good way to look at it more like 6 months per test gives better results. I did find when I was eating more sugar and refined garbage my ldl shot up and my hdl went down and triglycerides were off the chart.
    Now I eat meat, cheeses, eggs, alot of geeen vegetables and low in sugar fruits. My levels have all come way down and add in some exercise and they drop even lower. We have been lied to for years to eating all the grains which is just poisoning us all.

    • Hello,
      Its me again back to explain a few things, My doctor suggested a different route and to go on the Akins way of eating. To give you an idea of my diet I will explain how i eat, and my weight.
      I started at 294 pounds was eating alot of sugars, grains fruits and meats etc. But even when i cut out the saturated things as the so called experts say nothing was changing. My test results were quite bad my ldl for example was 293 and my hdl was in the 30s range.
      So I changed my diet to eating the akins way to get rid of certain foods from my diet. And dropped carbs out of my eating totally including caffeine.
      I am now at 235 pounds though I exercise daily my current diet is the following.
      Breakfast: Frittata which contains eggs, bacon, mushrooms, olive oil, 2 cheeses goat and Parmessan and peas.

      Lunch: Steak or hamburgers no bun with mustard or a sauce that has no sugar in it, and brocolli and or celery with a dip that also has no sugar in it or any wheat fillers.

      Dinner: Steak or Chicken and i dont cut off the fat or remove the skin off the chicken. and or Salmon.
      of course i drink a lot of water close to 3 litres a day sounds like a lot but its not.
      I am full of energy, I no longer crave corn or wheat or sugar or caffeine for that matter. My findings are based off my own tests and myself being the subject of those tests. I no longer Eat wheat in any way shape or form, no corn, and no sugar. And have my blood tested every 6 months. Occasionally a glass of red wine and some ice-cream but for special events. I am finding that all the nonsense on saturated fats is exaggerated nonsense based on no evidence of any kind. If that is the case i should of had a heart attack months ago, and my arteries should be clogged but far from it they are clean compared to when i was eating the carbs. way of eating for years my arteries had blockages and has since then cleared out.
      My LDL was 293 is now 126 after 2 years of changing the diet and dropping 60 pounds.
      My HDL was 10 and is now 40.
      So you tell me what is the cause of the raise and lowering of cholesterol because i have increased my intake of saturated fats and deleted my intake of carbs. My net carb intake daily is around 20 net carbs.

  9. Hi. I would like to say something what people do not know. Each individual is different. When any studies are done they really do not affect me at all. I never get sick from any flue. I am always healthy but I did a test once for about two weeks only. I came to the conclusion that if I were to eat for about 6,7,8 months lots of eggs and lots fat cheese, I would die of heart attack. That is all I have to say about cholesterol. This would be like suicide for my body.
    Dan

  10. I’m glad people are finally starting to wake up to this fact. Saturated fat was NEVER the enemy. Refined carbs, processed foods, and sugars are.

  11. Hi Chris,

    Quoting from above”
    “This explains why well-designed cholesterol feeding studies (where they feed volunteers 2-4 eggs a day and measure their cholesterol) show that dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in about 75% of the population. The remaining 25% of the population are referred to as “hyper-responders”. In this group, dietary cholesterol does modestly increase both LDL (“bad cholesterol” and HDL (“good cholesterol”), but it does not affect the ratio of LDL to HDL or increase the risk of heart disease. (2)”

    I just finished reading the High Cholesterol Action Program & found it very informative and well balanced between mainstream and alternative lipidology. However, I think that there was one topic that was not discussed (or did I miss it?) – that is the role of dietary cholesterol for hyper-responders and especially hyper-absorbers; and what further steps can be taken by hyper-absorbers (instead of Zetia).

    Also, everyone should check out this article by Dr. Thomas Dayspring entitled
    “Lipidaholics Anonymous Case 291: Can losing weight worsen lipids?”, in which he discusses in depth the “Paleo-Lipid” condition, (dramatic increases in TC, LDL-C, LDL-P, but everything else improves).

    http://www.lecturepad.org/index.php/lipidaholicsanaonymous/1140-lipidaholics-anonymous-case-291-can-losing-weight-worsen-lipids

    A quote from that article:

    “In many (including the patient being
    discussed) but certainly not all (the true incidence remains to be determined but
    experienced colleagues who have a lot of patients on low carb diets advise it is about 1/3
    of patients) despite all of the above biomarker and waist size and BMI improvements
    there is a drastic worsening of TC, LDL-C and most worrisome of all apoB and LDL-P”

    His conclusion is that saturated fat is responsible in those patients.

    Another quote:

    “Many of the low carbers and Paleo folks not only ingest increased saturated fat but also
    cholesterol (love their eggs and shellfish) – would one expect that to also contribute to
    the increased cholesterol levels seen in some? The answer is no:”

    so some discrepancy with your statement above concerning dietary cholesterol.

    Discussion from Chris or anyone would be appreciated.

  12. Hi, Chris. I landed on your site very randomly a while back while looking up coconut milk (fructose malabsorption). I’ve been back many times as I try to sort out the “healthiest” approach to diet. I’ve been intrigued by all the information you’ve presented and have been leaning toward the Personal Paleo Code. However, I’ve been doing a lot of research and recently found a review article about reducing oxidative stress. It was out of Slovenia, I think. Part of the sum-up was:

    “Avoiding calorie-dense refined sugars, ***saturated fats,*** and processed foods and replacing them with nutrient-dense but calorie-poor vegetables, fruits, and legumes will result in a vastly increased intake of health-enhancing phytonutrients, including key vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, and other still undiscovered compounds important for our cells to work properly.”

    I’ve been leaning more toward meats (not enough grass-fed yet — hard to find even in Portland, Ore.), full-fat homemade kefir/grass-fed butter, seafood, vegetables, fruits — and very little sugar, grains, etc. (Have IBS and low FODMAPs works wonders, even if my PCP had never heard of it!)

    However, the above lit review (http://www.hindawi.com/journals/oximed/2011/194586/) has me concerned that I’m super-oxidizing myself by consuming more saturated fats (and thinking about adding more). If you have any thoughts, I would truly appreciate them, as I’ve found Western medicine is not doing us any favors on the nutrition-front. Apologies for the long comment; I’m just hoping to clear up some things to assuage my lingering hangups that were ingrained in the ’80s (carbs, carbs, carbs, low-fat, etc.) Many thanks!

  13. I have known this since 2004 when I read an article in the Time Magazine titled “The Fire Within”…it is chronic inflammation that is the problem, not cholesterol…

    Some things never really added up, like some family members having a naturally high cholesterol level, yet lived long and healthy lives……cholesterol is also a very normal substance in the body. It merely tries to fix the damage the chronic inflammation cause in the blood vessels by patching the defect so the blood can continue to flow. If the inflammation is not addressed,. the damage continues and chronic inflammation comes from a diet too high in sugars and simple carbs. I find it amazing (and highly unethical) how the pharmaceutical industry has apparently misrepresented research data to cause such persistent myths to continue

  14. I’m so interested in this. I was raised on don’t eat eggs, no saturated fats, no bacon and so on and so on. Thanks for the article. I’ll do some research on it now that I’ve read this article. It’s amazing how much bunk we may being fed, that the public really need to know about.

  15. It’s hard to adjust with the fact that cholesterol and saturated fat were not actually the enemies of our heart. With this fact, my diet lifestyle will definitely change but the consumption level will still be monitored.

  16. This is a very informative article, Chris! Despite the fact that these matters are considered as myth, most people including me still afraid of eating food with cholesterol and saturated fat content. I think the problem with this study is the idea that it’s not advertised or disseminated to counter such myths.

  17. Don’t eat cholesterol one day, eat it the next. I’m so sick of studies changing day-to-day on how we should eat. How about this – eat what makes you feel good? But if you eat animal products, get them from your local, humane farmer as animals shouldn’t be treated the way they currently are because people feel the need to continue to eat animal products.

    I always say to people, “We’ll see in the end who was right.”

  18. Hi Chris,

    I’ve been eating a diet that follows Weston A. Price and Body Ecology principles. I’m perplexed by my cholesterol numbers. My HDL has not increased and my LDL is higher (see below). Although my ratios are not too bad, I would still like to address the high LDL. Below I’ve also pasted in some old advice from the Weston A. Price website. Are there any newer suggestions for dealing with liver imbalance or oxidative stress that could be contributing to high LDL? It’s hard to find a local practitioner who doesn’t just tell me to cut out coconut oil and butter. Thank you!

    12/2011
    Total Chol: 170
    LDL: 101
    HDL: 59
    Trig: 49

    2/2013
    Total Chol: 209 (not fasting; taken in the evening after dinner)
    LDL: 135
    HDL: 54
    Trig: 100

    3/2013
    Total Chol: 277
    LDL: 221
    HDL: 56
    Trig: 72

    From the WAP website:
    Very high LDL levels often tell me there is oxidative stress or a liver imbalance in the patient. For this condition I give 1 capsule per day of OPC synergy, a food-based antioxidant, from Standard Process and 1 teaspoon/day of an herbal bitter tonic, the best being Globe Artichoke Extract from MediHerb. This intervention will usually lower the LDL by 10-20 percent.

    • The Dec ’11 numbers looked great.
      The recent seems to not be so good. What did you do different? I would begin to document carefully any changes you make from this point forward. It will help to correlate a result to an input.

    • I’d be worried about those changes. The facts are that high LDL people have heart attacks while those lower than 150 do not. That suggestion from the WAPF website to take antioxidants is like the blind leading the blind. If people eat a lot more vegetables, they won’t need antioxidants. As cholesterol (combined with the LDLs) can no longer enter cells to be metabolised, either for steroid hormones or to be stored as fat, because the cells are too full of cholesterol already, it continues in the bloodstream where free radicals oxidise it (make it rancid). Antioxidants are sorely needed in the body to combat free radicals. Antioxidants come in plant foods – not at all in animal foods. A person eating a diet of predominantly plants will neither have high cholesterol nor low antioxidants. It’s staring us in the face – eat more plants and less animals. How many more people have to die of heart disease before we see that eating less animal foods and more plants is the simple answer? Even Weston A Price noted the health of the tribes that ate large amounts of plant foods and a small amount of animal foods. Don’t be fooled by short term drop of LDL while on a fat rich diet – LDL does drop usually as weight is lost – but then it tends skyrocket.

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