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Busting the Cholesterol Myth

What do you know about the causes of heart disease and the relationship between fats, cholesterol and cardiovascular health problems? Let’s start with a little quiz to test your knowledge. Answers are found on page two of this article.

Cholesterol Quiz

Mark each of the following statements true (T) or false (F).

_____ 1.  The lower your cholesterol levels, the healthier you will be.
_____ 2.  To reduce your risk of heart disease, you should keep your cholesterol
                 level below 200 mg/dL.
_____ 3.  Cholesterol helps protect the body from environmental toxins and infection.
_____ 4.  Statin drugs help to reduce the incidence of heart disease by lowering cholesterol.
_____ 5.  Cholesterol is important in maintaining fertility and sex drive.
_____ 6.  Eating foods high in fat will raise your cholesterol levels.
_____ 7.  Avoiding foods that contain cholesterol will help to lower the levels of
                 cholesterol in your blood.
_____ 8.  Oxidative stress and inflammation are the primary causes of cardiovascular disease.
_____ 9.  The cholesterol in natural foods cannot stick to your arteries unless it
                 becomes oxidized.  
_____10. HDL cholesterol is good cholesterol, while LDL is bad cholesterol.
_____11. Low cholesterol levels increase your risk of cancer.

Cholesterol, Fat and Heart Disease

butterNow that you’ve completed the quiz, let’s discuss the cholesterol hypothesis about heart disease. I love the TV show Mythbusters, so, I'm going to explain why much of what the general public believes about cholesterol and heart disease is pure myth.

The idea that cholesterol (and saturated fat) cause heart disease is ingrained in our culture.  Everywhere we see ads for cholesterol and fat free, “heart healthy” foods.  TV ads promote drugs to reduce cholesterol where “diet and exercise aren’t enough.” And people talk about eating a juicy hamburger or a big steak as a "heart attack waiting to happen.”

Unfortunately, most of what people have been led to believe about cholesterol is completely false.  According to Mary Enig, an international expert in the field of lipid (fat) biochemistry, “The idea that saturated fats and high cholesterol cause heart disease is completely wrong, but the statement has been ‘published’ so many times over the last three or more decades that it is very difficult to convince people otherwise unless they are willing to take the time to read and learn what all the economic and political factors were that produced the anti-saturated fat agenda.” [As quoted in Fat and Cholesterol are GOOD for You! by Uffee Ravnshov]

Another international expert with a passion for truth about cholesterol and fat has this to say: “As one scientific study after another has shown, people can gorge on animal fat for many years and still keep their blood cholesterol low. What we have also learned is that atherosclerosis and heart attacks may occur whether one’s food is rich in saturated fat or not, and, most surprisingly, whether one’s cholesterol is high or low. Given these facts, is there any reason to think that heart attacks can be prevented by lowering cholesterol?” [Ibid.]

The anti-cholesterol campaign is based on false assumptions and discredited studies. For example, the MRFIT study is often cited by doctors, health consultants and food producers as “the most exact database regarding the relation of risk factors to mortality in the healthy male U.S. population.” In reality, the MRFIT study found no significant correlation between cholesterol/fat intake and heart disease risk, but the data and the report were manipulated to show just the opposite. Unfortunately, many large industries (including the medical profession) are so invested in the anti-cholesterol campaign that they continue to disseminate bad information.

Go to page two to check your answers to the quiz.