Cholesterol - a bad word?

I like to use butter and bacon as the poster children for the nutrition principles I teach. I do it because I consider them perfect examples of foods that have been demonized for all the wrong reasons, and are actually beautiful additions to a healthy diet.  

One of the most common questions I get is, “what about all that cholesterol?”

photo cred: Chris Masterjohn

photo cred: Chris Masterjohn

Cholesterol is first and foremost an essential component of our body’s functioning.  It is vital for production of new and healthy cells of every type, and aids in creation of many of the body’s most important hormones.  (Yes, that includes sex hormones.)  Our liver produces a supply of cholesterol daily - around 1400mg.  The amount of cholesterol in our blood at any given time is so tightly regulated that upon ingesting more dietary cholesterol, our body slows down production, in order to keep levels consistent.

Cholesterol has an unnecessary bad rap.  It's often found in higher levels at places of inflammation in our blood vessels... and consequently it has been blamed for causing that inflammation in the past.  But the inflammation is not caused by high levels of cholesterol.  Inflammation is caused by a variety of other nasty problems (and here's where to take notes:) sugar, processed foods, toxic vegetable oils, high stress levels, cortisol, smoking.  Cholesterol simply rushes to the scene of the inflammation to begin aiding in repairing and rebuilding new, healthy cells. 

This whole situation has been likened to blaming firemen (cholesterol) for starting the fires (inflammation) that they are actually on location to help fight.  The cholesterol is in fact there to assist! 

You'll start to see more and more articles like this one from TunedBody.com and this one from Mercola.com, (ok one more - from Dr.MarkHyman.com) - in which doctors are stepping forward to admit they've been wrong about cholesterol and its link to heart and cardiovascular disease. 

Grass-Fed Steak from Sage Mountain Farms with a big ol' hunk of Spring Hill pasture butter

Grass-Fed Steak from Sage Mountain Farms with a big ol' hunk of Spring Hill pasture butter

This is just my very simple primer on a very complex topic – there are so many more details regarding types of cholesterol (LDL/VLDL/HDL) and their ratio to each other, how each is produced, and the effects they each have on different body functions.  I highly encourage you to do some research if you've been told by a doctor that you have hereditarily high cholesterol or are on a low-cholesterol diet.  There's actually some danger associated with cholesterol deficiency - so please, no more egg-white scrambles! 

Cholesterol issues are new to the last 60 years.  Butter (and I'm talking the real-deal, raw, or pasture butter here) and bacon (and other fat-rich meats) are foods that humans have been eating for thousands of years, growing, evolving, and thriving.    

Bon appetite, bacon! 

Woofer-APPROVED

Woofer-APPROVED