Dr. Kristen Mitteness
Myth Busting: Cholesterol
When you hear the word “cholesterol” what thoughts come to mind? Artery clogging? Heart attack? Poor health? Would it surprise you if I told you that cholesterol is the key component of all hormone synthesis in your body? That is it critical for brain function and memory?
About 75% of all of the cholesterol in your body is made by your body. 25% of it is from your diet. If you don’t eat enough cholesterol, your body will make it. If you eat more of it, your body will make a bit less. It is very tightly regulated because it is so important for proper cell and neuron function.
It’s not as simple as “good” cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol. Your body is smart. Very smart. Every cell and organ has a function. If there wasn’t a proper function for LDL or “bad” cholesterol, do you think your body would continue to make it? Not without good reason. As long as you provide your body with the proper nutrients and move regularly, you body will respond appropriately.
What one food negatively affects your cholesterol levels? Sugar! Yes, you heard right. Diets high in sugar will negatively impact your cholesterol levels. When your body tries to save itself from the damaging effects of sugar, more cholesterol is made to properly deal with the impact. And we’re not just talking about white table sugar. Processed grains, cereal, bread, pasta, “whole wheat”, candy and cake are all processed in the same way as white table sugar. The biggest change you can make to your diet today is to kick the sugar/grain habit.
Quality sources of cholesterol are eggs and liver. The WHOLE EGG! Yes, you can start eating yolks again! They are nutrient dense and full of quality vitamins and minerals. Eating good sources of cholesterol will not increase your cholesterol levels. Keep it simple. Eat real whole foods. If your great grandma ate it, you probably should, too. If your great grandma wouldn’t recognize it, it’s probably best avoided.
Regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will also help to keep your cholesterol levels normal. Do this by moving more than you sit and finding activities you enjoy! There is no sense in dragging yourself to the gym when you have much more fun snowshoeing or walking with a friend.
If you want more, in depth information about cholesterol, check out Chris Kresser’s blog: www.chriskresser.com and search “Cholesterol”. He’s the king of debunking conventional nutrition!