Cholesterol has gotten quite a bad reputation over the past few years. With all of the advertising for products that warn you that if you don’t take their product your cholesterol will go up and you’re a heart attack waiting to happen. There are several myths concerning cholesterol, and one is that it must be eliminated from your diet. Let’s examine a few facts.
First, we must understand that cholesterol is absolutely essential for our optimum health. In fact, it is so important that it is produced in our liver and our brain. Some of the ways that cholesterol contributes to our health are:
• Brain chemistry. About 25% of our body cholesterol is located in the brain, and performs a vital function in the connections between neurons. This allows us to think, learn and form memories. There now is evidence that low cholesterol intake could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease because it adversely changes brain chemistry.
• Digestion. Cholesterol molecules allow for the interaction of the trillions of cells in our body. One example is its function in the production of bile, which is necessary for proper digestion.
• The formation of cholesterol sulfate. This is still in the theory stages, but it is thought that when cholesterol combines with sulfur, cholesterol sulfate is formed. This is a blood-thinning mechanism that provides a natural protection against diseases of the heart.
To further the case for making sure we maintain our cholesterol levels, there is now evidence that it plays a role in cellular health. If we are deficient it will be detrimental to almost every aspect of our health. The evidence that cholesterol causes heart attack can be traced back to studies done in the Twentieth Century under rather questionable scientific methods. The industry of cholesterol elimination has had a financial stake in keeping the myth alive.
So if cholesterol isn’t the major cause of heart disease, what is? When artery walls become damaged, a scab is formed, much like any wound on the skin. So that the scab doesn’t dislodge, the endothelial wall, which is the thin layer that lines the interior surface of the circulatory system, begins to grow over it. This obviously makes the blood vessels narrower, and it is not caused by cholesterol clogging things up, but by the body’s natural repair process.
So the real cause of artery issues, and therefore heart issues, is not cholesterol. What we must address is the causes of the damage to the artery walls, and heart disease really is a breakdown of the arteries. And the major cause of this is high blood sugar levels. High levels of sugar circulating in the blood damages and inflames the linings of the arteries, causing artery-wall damage.
The maximum amount of sugar that the American Heart Association suggests that on a daily diet of 2000 calorie, no more than 5% comes from sugar. That amounts to 24 grams, or the equivalent of about six teaspoons. To give a further visual, a can of of drink contains about 39 grams of sugar and a bag of Skittles 47 grams. The amount of sugar most people in the world consume is way more than we ought to be consuming.