Cholesterol is not the enemy!

“Fat is stored inside the fat cell in the form of triaglycerol. The fat is not burned right there in the fat cell, it must be liberated from the fat cell through somewhat complex hormonal/enzymatic pathways. When stimulated to do so, the fat cell simply releases its contents (triaglycerol) into the bloodstream as free fatty acids (FFAs), and they are transported through the blood to the tissues where the energy is needed.” — http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/what-happens-when-fat-is-burned.html

At a recent physical, it was pointed out by my doctor that my cholesterol is very high. She also did the “Berkley HeartLabs” blood test that tells us about my genetic markers for certain heart-related diseases. She had an expert in the Berkley HeartLabs tests come to her office to go over my results with me.

During our discussion, the expert pointed out, repeatedly, that my LDL cholesterol is too high (but my HDL is over 60, which is very good). I said that my cholesterol number has always been directly correlated with my weight. She insisted that my cholesterol was high because I eat too much saturated fat, and my genetic tests indicated that I don’t process fats well. I told her that I have been working out a lot more, running to 3-4 days per week, and reduced my calories by about half.

I said, “Doesn’t it make sense that because I’m burning fat, I would have more cholesterol in my blood stream?”

She said, “What?”

I said, “Well, the purpose of cholesterol is to transport fats in the blood stream, right? And because I’m burning more fat, there is more fat in my blood, and therefore more cholesterol to transport it where it needs to go.”

She said, impatiently, “It doesn’t go anywhere, it just gets burned up.”

I said, “It doesn’t just disappear! It goes into the blood stream to be transported to the muscles that need it, right?”

She said, “Well, that has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here. Let’s continue.”

She has likely spent most of her life (maybe the past 50 years?) working with patients who have heart disease and high cholesterol and can no longer see the forest for the trees. She’s convinced that mainstream medical thinking is correct, and she can no longer think critically about what actually might be going on. Like many of her generation, she doesn’t question what she’s told; the doctor is always right.

Just to placate her and my doctor, I did the recommended carotid artery ultrasound. That involved running the ultrasound device over each side of my neck to look for plaque buildup in my carotid arteries. Buildup in the carotid arteries can indicate buildup in the arteries that feed the heart, which can lead to heart problems. There was no buildup in either of my carotid arteries.

  • Cholesterol is necessary in our bodies. “Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) which is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is vital for normal body function. Every cell in our body has cholesterol in its outer layer.” (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9152.php)”
  • Cholesterol makes up the protective membrane surrounding each cell’s internal organelles … contributes as a building block for many of the essential hormones in your body.” (http://www.livestrong.com/article/25345-cholesterol/#ixzz2HDdm4rhS)
  • “Only about 25% of our blood cholesterol comes from our diet. Most of the cholesterol in our blood (about 75%) is produced by our bodies in the liver, intestines, adrenal glands, and reproductive organs. ” (http://solidbodyfit.com/2012/what-does-cholesterol-do/)
  • “When a long time has passed since the last meal, the concentration of fatty acids in the blood decreases, which triggers [fat cells] to release stored fatty acids into the blood as free fatty acids, in order to supply e.g. muscle cells with energy. … In response to low blood cholesterol, different cells of the body, mainly in the liver and intestines, start to synthesize cholesterol. This is then released into the blood. … Abnormally low levels of cholesterol are termed hypocholesterolemia. Research into the causes of this state is relatively limited, and while some studies suggest a link with depression, cancer and cerebral hemorrhage, it is unclear whether the low cholesterol levels are a cause for these conditions or an epiphenomenon.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_lipids)

I have not been able to find research that discusses a correlation between fat-burning exercise and cholesterol/triglycerides in the blood stream. I think it’s about time the medical establishment looked in that direction, stop making fat and cholesterol the villains, and stop trying to pump us full of liver-damaging statin drugs. Doing a study on “normal” weight men with “normal” cholesterol would not be helpful. Testing needs to focus on “average” overweight people (20-50 lbs, not severely obese) who are regularly exercising and reducing their calorie intake, not healthy athletes, and not only men.

For example, test people who are not exercising, haven’t for quite some time, and eat a “normal” American diet of breakfast pastries, fast-food lunch, and meats and starches for dinner, with very little fruits and vegetables. Then put these people on various diets (high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high protein, no animal protein…), and have them do an aerobic workout for at least an hour every day, testing their blood for cholesterol, triglycerides, and so on. Unfortunately for valid testing, you would have to isolate the subjects for 3-6 months to be sure that they are following the proper protocols, which will never happen.

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3 thoughts on “Cholesterol is not the enemy!

  1. Great article! I came to the same conclusion three or four years ago when statin drugs put me into physical therapy for over six months! I researched the matter for myself and no longer have any concerns about “high cholesterol” (even though through diet and exercise my cholesterol levels are now “normal”.

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