Cholesterol isn't always a dirty word...
Like cortisol (one of the stress response hormones), cholesterol has gained an unjustifiably bad rap, but the truth is cholesterol is important for your health--and not all cholesterol is bad for you!
It has been vilified for about half a century and partly thanks to the vegetable oil industry and the corrupt heart foundations around the world. Because it's all about making money but we won't open up this can entirely or we may end up going down the rabbit hole... 🐰🕳
I'm not sure about you, but I trust conventional wisdom on dietary fat. I trust my ancestors or early times who have depended and thrived on animal foods and other cholesterol foods like coconut oil for their thriving (not just surviving).
Fat in general has been demonised for the longest time but now the paradigm is shifting (for the better) as people realise that fat is not the enemy and that in fact, we need it for proper functioning and well-being.
The Right Fats
Just to clarify here though when we talk about fat, we are not talking about trans fats or partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fats and margarines, we are talking about animal fats mostly and some other fats like the saturated fat you get from coconut oil.
You see so many mistruths about fats and cholesterol on the internet and in the doctors office, so we are here to set the record straight to help you on your own journey to healing, health and happiness.
What Animal Fats Can I use?
They are all quite good, you can render the fat from beef (tallow) or pork (lard), you can cook with ghee, coconut oil or butter instead of harmful vegetable oils and yes, they are all harmful. Please read our blog all about this topic here.
You can even save the fat form bacon (in a bowl in the fridge) and use this to cook in or add to your food.
Other good animal fats to use in cooking are goose fat or duck fat.
You may like to add butter, ghee or cream to various dishes or hot beverages (I love to add butter or ghee to my healthy hot chocolates because it gives me extra fat and nourishment and I love the way it tastes! 🤤
For More Detailed Info on Fats
You might really like the book 'Nourishing Fats' by Sally Fallon Morell? It goes into much detail about why we need animal fats for Health and Happiness, how animal fats are not the villains they are claimed to be and also how these animal fats help to protect us against disease & inflammation, help to support cell function and hormone production and how they are needed to help our body make feel-good chemicals.
Back to the Cholesterol Topic
It plays many vital roles in our body and once we understand what those roles are and what foods are best and what ones to avoid, we can truly empower ourselves with the knowledge that will serve us.
What does excite me (and many others in the natural health space), is that the truth is now finally coming out about cholesterol - all the myths are being busted and the facts are being uncovered that have been hidden from us for so long!
Even with this information coming out though, there are still many doctors and others who still believe the old dogma and we may never be able to convince these people of the truth.
When we know the truth though, we inspire and empower not just ourselves but those around us too! So don't worry about what the diet "dictocrats" say, for they are stuck in an old belief system that does not serve anyone.
Keep learning the truth about food and health and share this knowledge with everyone you care about.
What is Cholesterol? And Why Is Cholesterol Important for Your Health?
Characterised by its waxy, fat-like appearance, cholesterol is a substance found in every single cell in your body. Your body needs cholesterol to help your body produce vitamin D, hormones (importantly, sex hormones like progesterone, oestrogen, testosterone), and the substances that aid in food digestion.
It plays a vital role in the health of our adrenal glands! These are the glands that produce both sex hormones and stress response hormones and when we have excess stress in our lives (which is difficult to avoid in these modern times), our adrenal glands may become depleted.
This can lead to a common condition, known as 'adrenal fatigue' or 'adrenal exhaustion'.
To heal adrenal fatigue, it is important to be consuming cholesterol-rich foods such as pastured eggs, cod liver oil and grass-fed butter or ghee.
On my personal journey (and this is not health advice), I have found that being in perimenopause with its low progesterone and oestrogen levels, that consuming ghee every other day has helped a lot.
Check out my blog about Ghee and progesterone production here.
A Breakdown of the Benefits of Cholesterol
Whilst we still haven't fully understood cholesterol in its full capacity, we do know this:
- Your body produces cholesterol in almost every cell so it's a vital molecule
- You'll find cholesterol in the cell membranes and this makes cells waterproof (which means that there can be a different chemistry on the inside and the outside of the cell)
- Cholesterol is mother nature's wound-healing nature’s repair substance, used to repair wounds, including tears and irritations in the arteries (think of it as the body's own mechanic)👩🏻🔧
- Our hormonal system would not exist without cholesterol as hormones are made of cholesterol, including hormones that regulate mineral metabolism and blood sugar, hormones that help us deal with stress, and all the sex hormones, such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone (the hormone that keeps you calm - amongst many other functions).
- Cholesterol is absolutely CRUCIAL to the function of the brain and nervous system and low cholesterol is linked to MS, neurological diseases and other brain issues.
- Cholesterol helps protects us against depression because it plays a key role in the utilisation of serotonin, the body’s “feel-good/happy” chemical.
- Your body's bile salts (for fat digestion), are made from cholesterol.
- Cholesterol is actually the precursor of vitamin D, which is formed by the action of ultra-violet (UV-B) light on cholesterol in the skin.
- Cholesterol may be protective against free radicals as it is believed to be a powerful antioxidant*
- Cholesterol, especially LDL-cholesterol (the so-called "bad cholesterol"), helps fight infection
*Free radicals actually help to protect us against heart disease and cancer!
Side Effects of LOW Cholesterol
When cholesterol is too low may cause infertility in women. This is why we can sometimes need a little cholesterol from food.
Other Health Issues from Low Cholesterol
Not only that, but many other hormonal problems, neurological issues, poor brain function/brain health, depression, slow wound-healing, functional issues, other health issues, rapid ageing, prone to sunburn more (especially if you consume vegetable oils) and much more!
How much cholesterol per day do we need?
Did you know that people with high cholesterol actually have a longer life spa?
Yup! And the so-called health experts want everyone to believe that high cholesterol is bad and automatically warrants stain drugs.
Statin drugs are a big cause of many major health issues such as:
Most experts recommend 300 mg a day. 200 mg a day if you have heart disease or are at risk of heart disease.
Trans fats, on the other hand, are devoid of redeeming qualities. Trans fats can be found in vegetable oils, fast food, junk food, vegetable shortening, margarine, crackers, cakes, cookies, bakery goods, frozen pies & other pastries and refrigerated dough products.
Importantly, trans fats lower your levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol--the "good cholesterol'. 🙁
We are using quotes because we don't necessarily agree with how cholesterol is labelled as good and bad as even the one labelled as "bad" (LDL) has its own important function as you read above.
If it even matters or interests you, HDL cholesterol can be found in olive oil, beans and legumes, whole grains, chia seeds, flax, nuts, fatty fish, and fruit.
In a study, the consumption of olive oil polyphenols helps to reduce cardiovascular risk and one reason why people on a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer.
*Ghee is not bad and can actually be very healthy (see our blog about Ghee and hormone balance here). It should be used moderately still.
But should you NEVER eat any sources of LDL cholesterol-boosting foods?
The thing to take away from this article would be to be mindful of the source always and that would mean avoiding things like cooking with vegetable oil and anything that contains vegetable oil or margarine and plant margarines.
Use grass-fed ghee instead or coconut oil for cooking as these are much healthier fats that add to health rather than destroy it.
You might also like our blog 'Vegetable Oils May Be Public Health Enemy Number One', which you can find here.
One of the best blogs I have read about cholesterol and the myths and facts was one published over at the Weston A Price Foundation (the link is in our references below). This article really breaks down the fact from the fiction.
In the Weston A rice article, they discuss all the myths and facts around cholesterol, the risks of statin drugs, the roles of cholesterol (as we did) and much more!
I highly recommend this article if you would like to learn more about this topic.
This article is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as health advice. Statements made have not been evaluated by the TGA and are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent and one should always consult with their trusted health professional before adding a new supplement to their diet.