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The Cholesterol Hype

Hi there, I hope March finds you in a relaxed mood with a few ice cold Martinis (did I just say that?)…

Following on from my previous Monthly Boost I am going to finish off on the whole cholesterol bashing health industry. I must mention that, a lot more can be said on this subject but I don’t want to bore you by the second paragraph, so tighten your seat belts and get on those crash helmets as you may just need them…

The artery clogging (also known as atherosclerosis) theory is the building up of fatty deposits in the arteries, as these deposits (also known as plaques) build up they narrow the arteries and reduce the elasticity of the arteries therefore reducing the blood flow to vital organs such as the heart. This deposit or plaque can ‘burst’ which triggers the formation of a blood clot over the ‘burst’ area. The blood clot can dislodge and if it gets stuck in the heart can cause a heart attack or if in the brain it can create a stroke. If it does not dislodge it can slowly block of the artery. So this is the basic story of heart disease.

Where does cholesterol come into it? You ask. Well cholesterol is found as part of the plaque. So the logic goes, if the ‘plaquing’ (if there is such a word) is causing all the harm mentioned above and cholesterol is a component of this ‘plaquing’, why not target the cholesterol. After all some people with atherosclerosis have high cholesterol….BINGO! ..on came the cholesterol lowering drugs in their masses in all their ‘glory’.

I just want to stop you here and just ask a question…

What on earth triggers the plaquing? ….have you ever asked that question? If not I would encourage you to start thinking about it, of course don’t lose sleep over it …back to answering the question…It is damage to the arterial wall that triggers the ‘plaquing’. Cholesterol is actually there to heal this damage NOT create it. The damage itself can be created by numerous factors and let me tell you it is not due to saturated fat in the diet but due to:

  1. Smoking

  2. Stress…which releases a hormone called cortisol which can be inflammatory

  3. Hydrogenated fats also known as trans fats

  4. Caffeine

  5. Sugar

  6. Infections

One thing all the above have in common is inflammation. Inflammation can damage the arterial wall as well as create all sorts of other mischief.

For those of you struggling with the fact that saturated fats do not cause heart disease please read on….

  1. Among South Asians in Britain there is a high incidence of heart disease BUT they are mainly living on vegetarian diets, they have low levels of blood cholesterol and eat diets that are low in saturated fat…

  2. Until recently, Indians in India had a very low incidence of heart disease while using ghee (clarified butter) and coconut oil, which are highly saturated and mustard seed oil which is largely monounsaturated. The epidemic of heart disease in India began only after these were replaced with peanut, safflower, sunflower, sesame and soybean oils, all of which are high in polyunsaturated oils

  3. Indians in South Africa have probably the highest rate of coronary disease in the world yet there is no apparent reason why they should based on the current dietary hypotheses

Although the above may not relate to your ‘culture’ it is just to show that eating low fat foods (which tends to equate to low in saturated fats) does not mean one has a lower risk of heart disease.

You may think, then why does not my doc know this or tell me this? All I can say is ‘ask him/her’.

So lets just think about it, the artery gets damaged and the cholesterol comes to heal it ..but we are blocking this process by trying to reduce our cholesterol levels…now is this just non-sense? Am I missing something?

Just a thought to keep you pondering for the day … ‘most heart attacks in the UK occur on a Monday morning’ is this because these people have had a relaxing weekend with some egg and bacon to boot for breakfast or is it because Monday morning creates a surge of ‘cortisol’ a stress hormone which can create inflammation which can damage the arterial walls?..hhmmm on that note I would like to wish you a wonderful month and I will catch you in April…..till then don’t persecute the cholesterol!

To saturated fats and their health benefits!


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