Cholesterol - the truth
Teaching children to cook is the best way to teach them to enjoy healthy food.
Cholesterol doesn't cause heart disease! Our bodies make cholesterol because they need it for all kinds of things, including the repair of damaged arteries. So a high cholesterol level may indicate that something is wrong, but getting rid of the cholesterol won't help. Statins may reduce the risk of a heart attack for some people, but not because they lower cholesterol. It's because they reduce the blood's coagulability, like aspirin does, and act as an anti-oxidant, like fresh green vegetable do. For older men and for women of all ages, a heart attack is more likely if your cholesterol level is too low rather than too high! If your cholesterol level is too high find out what you should be doing about it by reading Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health. Based on over 500 published research papers it will give you the real facts about cholesterol and how to avoid heart disease. It's had some great reviews.
Much of the earlier research on cholesterol and heart attacks was carried out on middle-aged men, for whom there is an association between the two. But an association per se doesn't mean that cholesterol causes heart attacks, any more than the association between workmen from a water company and a burst water main means that the workmen have caused the pipe to burst. The liver generates 80% to 85% of the cholesterol in our bodies for all kinds of purposes, one of which is the repair of damaged tissues, including damaged arteries. Therefore it is likely that when there is arterial damage some increase in cholesterol production will occur.
However, for women of all ages and older men there is not even an association between high cholesterol and heart disease. Because cholesterol is needed for so many bodily functions, these people are more likely to suffer a heart attack if their cholesterol level is low rather than high. The world's largest ever study to monitor trends in heart disease, 'MONICA', involved 10 million people in 21 different countries. When the data were examined in 2003 it was found that there was no overall relationship between national blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of cardiovascular disease or death. This century a huge study of Norwegians of both sexes aged 20 to 74 was carried out over a period of 10 years, and in 2012 it was reported that 'among women, cholesterol had an inverse association with all-cause mortality as well as coronary vascular disease mortality'. This means that for Norwegian women at least, and almost certainly for other Western women too, the higher your cholesterol level is the lower is your risk of death from a heart attack or anything else!
These findings shed serious doubt on the advisability of lowering cholesterol levels artificially. Statins may help to reduce the risk of a heart attack in people at risk by reducing the blood's ability to form artery-blocking blood clots and by their anti-oxidant properties, but there are equally effective ways of carrying out these functions, without the side effects that statins frequently produce and at considerably less cost to the health service. Even the data that statins manufacturers have used to support their claims about the effectiveness of statins have recently been brought into question.
So what does cause a heart attack? Tissue damage, whether to the arteries or anywhere else, is commonly caused either by inflammation or by oxidation (sometimes referred to as free radicals).
A common cause of inflammation is an excess of omega-6 fatty acids. Oils and fats derived from the seeds of temperate plants such as sunflowers and oilseed rape ('Canola' in North America, 'vegetable oil' in the UK) consist mainly of polyunsaturated fats, among which there is far more omega-6 than omega-3. An imbalance between these two essential dietary fats creates serious inflammation in the tissues, and three scientists won a Nobel Prize in 1982 for discovering this. Nowadays practically all the fats we consume, in margarine and similar spreads and in nearly all commercially baked bread, pastries, biscuits and cakes, are of this kind and produce this imbalance. That is why we are told to supplement our omega-3 levels by eating oily fish or by buying omega-3 oil supplements. But a more effective method is simply to consume less omega-6, by cooking at home and reverting to the kinds of animal based fats (lard, butter, full-cream milk, etc.) that people used to consume 75 years ago when coronary heart disease was almost unknown. These have a much healthier balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, especially when they come from animals that have grazed or foraged naturally.
Oxidation, the other cause of tissue damage, is also a feature of polyunsaturated fats. That is why vegetable oil and sunflower oil go rancid more quickly than the saturated and monounsaturated fats in olive oil, lard and dripping. Fats that go bad in the air can also go bad inside us!
Eating too much polyunsaturated fat from temperate seed oils is not the only dietary cause of heart attacks, but there isn't space in this brief article to explain what else is. For further information and advice on how to adopt eliminate virtually all causes of heart disease read Twenty-First Century Nutrition and Family Health. This vitally important book will tell you all about cholesterol, as well as providing references to the scientific papers on which the above information is based. You can learn about the 25:45:30 Natural Health Diet, which balances omega fats and other essential nutritional components, and how to put the diet into practice in your family. And you can learn all you need to know about exercise, stress management, rest and relaxation in order to keep as fit and healthy as possible until you die. I have been running half marathons in my seventies, so it has worked for me so far! Learn more about it.