Cholesterol Is Not Bad For You

October 15, 2012 — 5 Comments

For those of you who enjoy eating meat – this has the potential to be the most relieving article you ever read.

For those of you who are turned off even by the look of the stuff – this article might (ever-so-slightly) increase your chances of giving meat a second chance. But that’s not my intention of writing this piece.

I’m writing this article to simply raise awareness of a claim that has gradually gotten more attention as the years have passed – a claim that positions itself as a backbone of Paleolithic nutrition.

Paleolithic nutrition is a modern way of eating where one tries to replicate the eating behaviours of a hunter gatherer caveman who lived in the Paleolithic Era before the takeover of agriculture.

It’s a sin to devote only a couple of sentences to an explanation but in a nutshell, these foods consist of meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The main difference being the elimination of processed foods, including grain.

Meat has developed somewhat of a bad reputation over the years. At least to those who don’t really know what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition.

One of the first concerns people have with Paleo nutrition is the shear amount of meat you are able to eat and the effect it has on cholesterol. Because meat, after-all, has a lot of fat. And the world as we know it says that fat = cholesterol = cardiovascular disease; which leads me to the claim of Paleolithic experts such as Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Loren Cordain. It is loosely translated to say:

Cholesterol is NOT bad for you. It does NOT lead to cardiovascular disease.

Pretty bold stuff eh? But let me elaborate…

By saying this I’m not suggesting that cholesterol has absolutely zero negative effects on poor health. Our bodies are a system that requires all contributing parts to be working properly in order to thrive. High cholesterol alone will not increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. I will explain why in just a second.

Most of you might be aware that there is “good” and “bad” cholesterol. Even fewer of you might even know that the real names are HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) respectively. For the sake of this article though, we will continue to call them good and bad. It will make life a whole lot easier. Even though we’re about to discover that bad might not be so bad after-all.

Nobody seems to have a problem with good cholesterol so we’ll leave it out of the question, fair enough? Given how I’m trying to explain this in a way that anybody can understand.

When it comes to the infamous bad cholesterol (it’s really surprising nobody has made a super villain out of this idea) there are really two types. Think light/fluffy, and small/compact. Both are considered bad cholesterol, but the light/fluffy stuff actually flows through your body just fine. It’s the small/compact pieces that tend to get stuck in all the nicks and crannies that end up creating long-term problems like cardiovascular disease.

When does your body create the small/compact very bad cholesterol? When your hormonal and digestive systems are messed up from consuming too many processed foods including, yes, wheat and grains.

The two different types of bad cholesterol explains why some countries are known for having high counts of cholesterol but have very few incidences of cardiovascular disease. Moreso, countries with recorded low levels of cholesterol have several cases of cardiovascular disease.

What gives?

It’s very hard to put the blame of cardiovascular diseases solely on high cholesterol. If it were true then we wouldn’t be seeing those kinds of discrepancies displaced all around the world.

The good and bad cholesterol count doesn’t really matter as long as your bad cholesterol is mainly made up of the light/fluffy type.

So maybe we’ve been doing it wrong all along. Maybe we’ve been pouring too much money into finding a prescription for cardiovascular diseases and instead should devote the time and effort into discovering the cause. In the end we could end up saving ourselves a lot of time and money, or better yet, lives.

Hopefully this information makes sense to you. I wrote it in such a way as to avoid all of the scientific jargon and thrive off of everyday language. If you have any questions about a specific thing you read that maybe wasn’t explained properly, feel free to ask in the comments.

Eat meat and plants, but cut the grain.

What’s your take on Paleolithic nutrition?

Shane Organ

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5 responses to Cholesterol Is Not Bad For You

  1. 

    I am a big fan of the paleo diet and I agree with everything you said in the article. Let me add that orally consumed cholesterol has no impact on cholesterol in your blood. Our body creates 1000 mg of cholesterol every day which is much more than you would eat. When you consume more cholesterol in your diet, your body just scales back its production of cholesterol so the amount of cholesterol doesn’t increase when you eat more.

  2. 

    I think the Paleo diet makes sense. I have a friend who is on it and she has lost a lot of weight so far. But I thought the paleo diet is also about eating food in its rawest form (i.e. raw veggies over steamed) –is this true??

    I have a hard time cutting out grains from my diet b/c the culture I was raised in and the culture I married into–grains is a staple (rice, pasta etc). My husband and I try to decrease our intake of these foods or switch to brown or whole wheat if possible, but I don’t think we would ever completely eliminate these items from our diet.

    Also, I agree with your point that we should put effort into discovering the cause for cardiovascular disease (or any other ailment I’d like to add)—I find that in general our health system in Canada is more reactive than it is pro-active…..perhaps if we were more pro-active it would save the system money in the long run!

    Informative post!

    • 

      Thanks for the comment! The Paleo Diet can be taken to different levels of extremity, It all falls back on how far you’re willing to take it. Some people go so far as to only eat whatever fruits/veggies are in season.

      I thought it would be incredibly difficult to cut grains out of my diet as well. I think most people feel the same way. It’s all about slowly cutting back, and before you know it, wham – no more grains.

      Though I do promote a paleo lifestyle, I’d rather someone intelligently eat whole grains if it makes them happy.

      I definitely think a more preventative approach would save a ton of money in the end. Thanks again for reading!

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