Throughout my 6 years as a personal trainer, I have been instructing clients to stop eating egg whites and to opt for the whole egg instead.
“But what about the cholesterol?”
Despite the lack of a direct correlation between foods high in cholesterol and heart disease, this myth that natural foods like eggs, full fat dairy, and shrimp are somehow “bad” for us has been allowed to perpetuate for over half a century.
Doctors, the media, and many of us in the fitness industry have been responsible for preserving this deeply flawed hypothesis, and in turn making folks sick and dependent on dangerous cholesterol lowering drugs like statins.
This may finally change, however, as limitations for cholesterol will likely be removed from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“It’s the right decision,” said Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the famed Cleveland Clinic, in an interview with USA Today; “We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They’ve been wrong for decades.”
Not only does cholesterol NOT cause heart disease, but it’s one of the most important molecules in your body!
It’s responsible for the building of cells and the production of stress and sex hormones, as well as Vitamin D.
Cholesterol is also vitally important for brain health: low levels of HDL cholesterol have been linked with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and may even increase your risk of depression, stroke, violent behavior, and suicide.
Despite many Americans lowering their fat intake and eating less foods high in cholesterol, the rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease have INCREASED over the past 40 years.
This is because the main cause of heart disease is not excess cholesterol from diet, but chronic systemic inflammation.
While many lifestyle and dietary factors contribute to inflammation, one of the main contributors is processed sugar – namely fructose.
Since the low fat craze started in the late seventies, the processed food industry has replace the natural fat found in many foods with this dangerous carbohydrate.
Because fructose is metabolized like alcohol – in the liver – excess amounts have the same toxic effects.
In fact, when you compare the the health outcomes of excess fructose consumption to alcohol, the diseases they cause are virtually identical:
Considering that the cholesterol hypothesis is wrong, this would also mean that the recommended therapies are doing more harm than good.
Assuming that all else remains equal, when you remove vital nutrients like fat and cholesterol from your diet, something else must take it’s place in order to consume enough calories.
As noted above with processed foods, the substitution is usually refined carbohydrates and sugar – the root causes of chronic inflammation.
This, in combination with statin therapy, has had adverse and disastrous health affects on millions of people.
So what can we do to reduce inflammation and our risk of heart disease, diabetes, and all of that other crap?
Focus on boosting your HDL cholesterol and lowering your triglyceride levels.
This ratio is far more important than the total cholesterol number, or the “good” cholesterol vs. the “bad.”
You can calculate this ratio by dividing your triglyceride level by your HDL level.
The ratio should ideally be below 2.
If you’re above that, you’ve got some problems.
Have no fear, though!
The same lifestyle changes for reducing inflammation ALSO improve HDL, and lowers triglycerides!
Lucky for you, I did an entire post on the subject already.
Check it out, here.
We need to stop singling out, and demonizing, individual nutrients.
Cholesterol, fat, carbohydrates, and protein are not a problem when eaten in their natural ratios.
They become problematic, however, when you focus on one, eliminate it, and overcompensate with another.
The real problem is the ingestion of processed foods.
Eat a diet rich in whole foods!
The less processed and unadulterated your diet is, the more nutrition your body will receive.
By making this your objective, the less you’ll have to worry about following dietary guidelines that may, or as history shows, may not be right.