The Cholesterol Heart Disease Myth Explained.

Is the Cholesterol Heart Disease
Connection a Myth?

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  • Gene Millen, Author - Revised 5/29/15 Gene Millen, Heart Health Coach

    I'm Gene Millen. In 1990, at age of 59 I was surprised by a six way heart bypass operation. This got my attention and started me on the road to finding the cholesterol heart disease connection.

    For more than 40 years we have been bombarded with cholesterol heart disease solutions that don't work. "Lower your cholesterol," say the drug companies ads and everything will be just fine.

    "Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it."
    Proverbs 4:23

    Cholesterol is essential for a heart healthy body and our liver manufactures far more of it than we eat.

    Robert Superko, MD, the founding director of research at the Berkeley HeartLab Inc. explains,

    "Cholesterol is not the problem we thought it was. Relying on cholesterol levels as a risk factor for coronary artery disease may not be wise since 80% of coronary patients have the same cholesterol as individuals who do not develop the disease."

    The pharmaceutical industry doesn't look upon this finding favorably. Cholesterol lowering drugs, including Lipitor, Crestor and their generic cousins now have total annual sales of more than $14 billion.

    Illustration of cholesterol heart disease in arteries.

    Oxidized cholesterol in the heart arteries

    What the above illustration doesn't show is the heart artery inflammation that causes the so called "bad" LDL cholesterol to stick to the artery walls. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of The Perricone Connection explains,

    "To visualize how LDL cholesterol operates, think about rust. Rust occurs when metal oxidizes. Rust corrodes and eats away the metal, ultimately destroying it.
    "Similarly, when LDLs are oxidized in our bodies by free radicals or sugar, the LDL molecules create an inflammatory cascade resulting in cell and artery damage and cholesterol heart disease
    "More oxidized LDLs start to build up at this spot, producing an artery-blocking plaque. Left untreated, this plaque eventually closes the artery entirely, leading to a cholesterol heart disease."

    There are a few more pieces to the cholesterol heart disease myth.

    Berkeley Heart Lab researchers have discovered that LDL cholesterol has two important sub classes. The LDL Pattern A subtype is made up of large buoyant particles that travel freely through the arteries without sticking. These are the good guys.
    LDL Pattern B cholesterol however consists of small dense particles, which easily permeate the artery walls. Too many of these mixed with inflammation caused by sugar and free radicals which cause oxidation and its "heart attack city."

    Our Bodies Need Saturated Fat!

    The role that cholesterol heart disease and saturated fat play in keeping the body healthy is rarely mentioned. Mary Enig, PhD, the author of Know Your Fats tells us:

    "We need saturated fat in our diets. The important phospholipids that form the membranes in all of our cells are made mostly of saturated fatty acids. This is especially true for our brains."

    Recent research also shows that getting enough heart healthy fat prevents stroke and helps protect kidneys from disease.

    Saturated fat and LDL cholesterol heart disease types.

    A 1998 study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the relationship between dietary saturated fat intake and changes in amounts of Pattern A and Pattern B cholesterol.

    One group consumed a low fat diet consisting of 24% fat; 6% saturated and 59% carbohydrate. The second group ate 59% fat; 18% saturated and 39% carbohydrate.

    The group eating the diet which was higher in saturated fat and lower in carbs showed increases in the protective Pattern A cholesterol and decreases in the Pattern B cholesterol which can cause so much trouble.

    Chalk up one in the "I told you so." column for the late Dr. Atkins and his Atkins Diet.

    Yes, steak and high cholesterol eggs are good for you! The saturated fat police should look for a new endeavor to keep them busy.

    I'm here to be your advisor, help you avoid the pitfalls and false starts that I have made, and guide you to the cure for heart disease.

    Thanks for joining us on the journey to
    Vital Heart Health for Life!
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    Related Cholesterol Heart Disease Articles

    Clinical Studies - References

    Pub Med Policosanol Clinical Studies Confirm Benefits in Cholesterol Numbers. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2024;60(11)

    Dalmer Laboratory. (1990): Policosanol: Experimental Pharmacokinetics. Data on file.

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