Thursday, 1 March 2012

Cholesterol....the truth: Part 1.

Let's do a quick Cholesterol 101 test....

Cholesterol causes heart disease right?

No wait bad cholesterol causes heart disease, and good ones prevent it right?

And bad ones are LDL (low-density lipoproteins), right?

And good ones are HDL (high-density lipoproteins), right?

And food containing cholesterol raises your blood cholesterol, right?

We all know this, right? I mean we know this?

Errr, no, no we don't know this, because it's all wrong. All of it. Take everything you think you know about coronary heart disease (CHD), and cholesterol, and foods containing cholesterol and bin it. Without hesitation let me clarify; you've been lied to all along. Truly. Read on and let me put things in perspective...

Over the next two blog posts (Part 1 & 2) I shall put to rest some of the existing concepts on cholesterol, saturated-fat and coronary heart disease, and then later discuss what actually causes heart disease. Hopefully.

Now I know some of you are already sceptical because this is what you've been told by the Government and Dr's and health professionals and governing bodies and government agencies. And they took us into Iraq after WMD's and they said that JFK was killed by a lone gunman from a book depository. At this point I'll give you a minute to decide whether you are government fed on prime b*llsh*t or whether you are a smart human being who can self-educate and challenge falsehoods.

Still here, good. Sorry, I had to do that to get rid of the ones who weren't sure.....

Cholesterol the villain.
Not good or bad cholesterol, just cholesterol.
Cholesterol comes from fatty food and is bad for you, right? Wrong. Cholesterol is made in the liver, and is ESSENTIAL for your hormones and for healthy living. People with very low cholesterol suffer from a condition familial hypercholesterolaemia, and without being too blunt; they mostly die young. Very young in some cases. There is no good or bad cholesterol, there is cholesterol (as you will go on to read). So first off scrap the idea that cholesterol is bad. It isn't. I know you're leading on to good and bad cholesterol so just stay with me, remember you've left all you thought you knew at the door so stop trying to protect your previous ideas.

Blood cholesterol
So we can have blood cholesterol measured right, and this is a risk factor for CHD, yes? No; cholesterol does not dissolve in blood, so it is transported around the body via a lipoprotein. This also transports fats, and proteins. The biggest of these molecules is actually called a chlomicron; basically this is manufactured in the gut and fills with triglyceride (fat) along with a little cholesterol. the chlomicron then travels straight to fat cells where the fat is deposited and the chlomicron then basically shrivels up and is returned to the liver. below chlomicrons we have VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins), then IDL (intermediate-density lipoproteins  - no, we don't talk about these much (at all!)) then LDL, then HDL. VLDLs are produced in the gut and in the liver, when they lose some triglyceride to fat cells a VLDL becomes an IDL, then when it shrinks down further it becomes an LDL, and then our HDL is the smallest lipoprotein. So....somehow Lipoprotein became interchangeable with the word cholesterol. They are not the same thing.  Don't confuse them again. You do not have blood cholesterol measured.

Now basically what you've probably been led to believe is that HDLs (the supposedly good lipoprotein) travel around the body and when they find a plaque on an artery wall filled with cholesterol they kind of suck it out and then take it back to the liver for processing. Have a think on that for a second, and then laugh hysterically at how preposterous that is. I mean really, we must have some good evidence to back up this silly idea. Oh, we don't have any evidence, oh it's just an idea? Oh, OK then, shall I believe you anyway based on faith of pharmaceutical companies looking to sell me on this idea so that they can sell me 'cholesterol lowering statins''s a tough decision. We might come back to this point.

Saturated Fat
So this bit you know, right? Saturated fat is bad, right! That raises LDL's!!?....That was a test - you're meant to leave your pre-conceived ideas 10 minutes in to the past!! Saturated fat is transported via chlomicrons (well remembered) in to fat cells so it doesn't effect LDL levels at all. If you want to read about the glory that is saturated fat then go back to my palaeo blogs, this blog isn't about saturated fat, it's about cholesterol. Even the saturated fat that does get to the liver doesn't effect cholesterol, none of the so-called experts would tell you this because we know it doesn't. So what does raises LDL levels....well LDL's come from VLDL's so what raises VLDL levels....carbohydrates (you might have guessed eh!). See all the previous palaeo/low-carb blogs I've written. But to make this worse, saturated fat actually LOWERS VLDL's!! You're not sold on this....see what the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) think about this (abstract only I'm afraid), or click here for a full systematic review. Or even check this out:

"In the a recent study, presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, Duke University researchers randomly assigned 120 overweight volunteers to the Atkins diet or to the American Heart Association's low-fat “Step I” diet. People on the Atkins diet restricted their carbohydrate intake to less than 20 grams a day, with 60 percent of their calories coming from fat. 

After six months, participants on the Atkins diet had lost 31 pounds, had an 11 percent increase in HDL (good cholesterol) and a 49 percent drop in their tryglyceride levels (LDL). Step 1 dieters lost 20 pounds, showed no change in HDL, and their tryglycerides fell 22 percent. In particular, there was a strong link to VLDL type of cholesterol -- the cholesterol type most related to heart disease risk. Atkins dieters had a 49% reduction in VLDL levels, versus 17% for those on the low-fat group."

Apologies that it refers to lipoproteins as cholesterol; you all know better than that now. But still the point is there....

So what we're saying is that VLDL levels drop when you eat fat. So this should lower LDL levels as well then. Ah, no. I've not given you the whole truth yet. You see, it really doesn't matter what our VLDL levels are, our LDL levels are almost unaffected by this! They know this, now you know this. They don't know why though.  What they tell you is this "If you eat saturated fat, then this will reduce the number of LDL receptors - the things that lock on to LDL and pull it out of the bloodstream - thus causing the LDL level to rise". What they don't tell you is there is no connection between saturated fat consumption and the needs of cells around the body to absorb LDL (see article from the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association). 

In case you're getting a bit baffled by all of this, (which you actually should be, as you will see in a second) let me introduce to you a scientific method pioneered and used by two researchers Law and Wald in their consideration of the diet-heart/cholesterol is bad hypothesis; teleoanalysis. Genius'. Oh you don't know what that is? Ok, well here is what they define it as doing....

"provides the answers to studies that would be obtained from studies that have not been done and often, for ethical and financial reasons, could never be done." 

Translated by me as "makes up data to support or prove our unproven or currently unprovable hypothesis!".

Cholesterol levels, stroke and death
Subheadings don't come more blunt than that, and whilst I can hear you screaming that I've said that cholesterol doesn't cause CHD, please read on....

Just to add to the mix I'm going to begin including the condition of a stroke. A stroke is most often caused when a plaque at the base of the neck (carotid artery) breaks off and then travels into the brain. As the arteries get narrower it gets jammed and blocks the blood flow. The reason I mention this is that if a stroke is caused through a similar process to CHD (e.g. the formation of cholesterol filled plaques) then if LDL levels cause CHD, then they should also be associated with an increase in stroke. Right? Err, no.....In 1995, The Lancet published a massive study that considered 450,000 people over 16 years including 13,000 strokes, and concluded "There was no association between blood cholesterol and stroke". Ah.

In fact, a 2004 study in the journal Stroke reported the following from a 15-year study of Japanese persons; "...the risk of death from stroke was reduced by 64% in the high cholesterol consumption group. Animal protein was not significantly associated with stroke after adjustment for animal fat and cholesterol. This suggests that....a high consumption of animal fat and cholesterol was associated with a reduced risk of cerebral infarction (stroke) death".

At this point I could begin citing a plethora of research which has linked low cholesterol levels with death. not death by CHD, or stroke, but simply death. E.g. that higher cholesterol levels are better for you than lower ones. There is a small mountain of research out there. If you need the information I can forward it on, or you can go and read pages 87-100 of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick's "The Great Cholesterol Con", (or you could use google for something better than you currently do). Yes, I have just revealed my source. This is an absolutely amazing book. Irrespective of your thoughts around my blog you should read this book. It should be everyone's birthday and Christmas present (or at least those you care about).

The point, other than the fact that I am not trying to rip-off the book and give you all the evidence, is that I am trying to deliver a simple message to people who should know better and to people who might discuss this and pass it forward to others.

Kendrick makes a brilliant reference back to a (mad - my addition) scientist; Iribarren and his hypothesis throughout the book, about proving and disproving a hypothesis, and how to make something fit. To summarise the final section I have talked about regarding the relationship between low cholesterol and death - and the kind of adaptation to a hypothesis that Iribarren would make; researchers have summarised that a persons low cholesterol must be a marker of some disease which is ultimately killing people (as opposed to it actually being low cholesterol (because we are still trying to say that we know that low cholesterol is good)...). But how do we know that they have a disease, well because their cholesterol is low, and they're dying.....sigh. You see what you're fighting against.

I know this has only been a brief introduction to this area, but hopefully we have dispelled some of the myths surrounding this area.

As always, comments or thoughts are very welcome, Part 2 will follow very shortly.

Be Well



  1. JFK was apparently killed by a lone gun man in an abandoned book depository and not the grassy knoll (the later was a conspiracy theory). ;)

    As for the article I'll read second bit before commenting.

  2. It indicates that eating apples and drinking apple juice may help reduce the damage LDL.

    VLDL cholesterol

  3. There are many ways in which we can keep our cholesterol levels at the right track. Cholesterol is neither good & bad. We just need to find out the best way how to get rid of high cholesterol and the how much we need cholesterol drug in our body.