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Cholesterol Myths – Is Cholesterol Really That Bad?

Hardly an hour of TV passes or ten pages of any magazine are turned without hearing or reading something about a drug or a diet which reduces blood cholesterol.

Is cholesterol really that bad?
How could a natural substance produced in our bodies as a basic building block of every cell as well as the hormone system and nervous system cause us so much trouble?

Do we really want to lower cholesterol at any cost?
It is a known fact that drugs recommended to reduce cholesterol interrupt normal physiology and are laden with serious side effects. Low fat diets designed to lower cholesterol often throw out good fats and replace them with sugar and unhealthy processed fats. What happened to common sense?  Cholesterol is vital to healthy body function but misinformation about cholesterol leads us to believe cholesterol is dangerous. What are the facts?

Cholesterol Facts
Cholesterol is an essential fat made by the body which is vital to the healthy structure and function of cell membranes.  Cholesterol enables binding of essential proteins in cell walls and assists in the transport of nutritional essentials in and out of the cells.  Cholesterol is transported by LDL to the tissues that require cholesterol to maintain healthy function and returned by HDL for use and removal by the liver.  Cholesterol returned to the liver is involved in the creation of hormones and excreted in the bile to the benefit of bowel pH and improved colon functions.  Cholesterol is thought to be protective against infections and atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol Myths
1. High cholesterol is the cause of heart disease.
2. High cholesterol is the cause of atherosclerosis – hardening and clogging of the arteries.
3. High cholesterol is caused by eating foods high in cholesterol.
4. Lowering cholesterol with drugs is safer than having high cholesterol.

Who gains from Cholesterol Myths?
Companies who patent low fat “foods” and create medicines designed to lower cholesterol levels profit from distorting the truth.  We need to clear our heads of these cholesterol myths and look at the facts.

Myth One – Cholesterol is the Cause of Heart Disease.
Researchers find that high cholesterol is “present” in cases of heart disease nearly as often as high cholesterol is found in patients with no heart disease.1 Research also indicates that high cholesterol in old age is actually linked to a longer life.2 Heart disease is more often directly linked with diet and lifestyle choices and NOT with high cholesterol in the blood stream.

Myth Two – High Cholesterol is the cause of Atherosclerosis.
Studies show little or no evidence that atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is caused by high cholesterol. 3,4,5,6,7 In fact, when comparing signs of atherosclerotic plaquing of the aorta with the average blood cholesterol levels of Japanese (170) to Americans (220) there was no notable difference in this Harvard Medical School study.8 In another study using over 1400 Japanese and 5000 Americans it was found that in all age groups Japanese people were more atherosclerotic than Americans even though they had much lower cholesterol levels.9 High cholesterol is not likely linked with hardening of the arteries.”10

Healthy Cholesterol Levels & Nutritional Essentials

Myth Three – High Cholesterol is caused by eating foods high in cholesterol.
Tens of thousands of people from dozens of different countries have been tested in peer reviewed published research projects studying the effects of diet on blood cholesterol. No significant association of blood cholesterol levels to diet was noted in any of them except when artificial fats (margarine) and high sugar were consumed.11  Dozens of independent researchers found no significant benefit in lowering cholesterol in the diet.

Myth Four – Lowering Cholesterol with Drugs is Safer than High Cholesterol.
A foundational principle of The Nutritional Essentials is “nature knows better.” Give the body the wholesome food it needs in a stress-free environment and it can heal itself. It is common sense to say interrupting biochemical pathways is a last resort, yet we are told by the pharmaceutical companies that living on statin drugs are safer than high cholesterol!  The risks of statin drugs far outweigh the benefits.  While statins inhibit the production of cholesterol, statins also inhibit other substances with important biological functions such as anti-oxidation and the timely clotting of blood.  Additionally, statins reduce the activity of smooth muscles.12 Each of these functions inhibited by statins are essential to healthy function.

The Real Cholesterol Story
When one is healthy, cholesterol levels are regulated by the body naturally. High cholesterol is an indicator that an unhealthful lifestyle may need attention. Just as it makes no sense to pull the battery out of a noisy smoke alarm, it makes no sense to lower cholesterol with drugs – rather than put the fire out.  Research shows that high cholesterol does not cause disease but is present in certain disease conditions.1 The facts support the concept that cholesterol has a healing effect and is elevated when needed by the body to effect a change.

Healthy Cholesterol Levels and The Nutritional Essentials
Lifestyle choices are the key to healthy body and cholesterol levels. Stress, refined sugar, hydrogenated and trans fats, toxic overload on the liver, B Complex and antioxidant deficiencies all lead to heart, vascular and liver disease.

If you are concerned about cholesterol levels – focus on eating whole foods and whole food concentrates as follows:

  • Include healthy oils in your food plan, especially Omega 3 oils like flaxseed oil and healthy fish oil.
  • Include foods rich in iodine for healthy metabolism of fats.
  • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits for vitamin complexes, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. (See TNE 1 &18)
  • Avoid unhealthful, unnatural “foods” like processed flour, sugar, oils and margarine and junk “foods.” Avoid fake “fats”!
  • Take the Sugar Challenge! (How much sugar and carbs are you really ingesting?)
  • Ask me which nutritional supplements might be right for you!

Author: Dr. Joseph Vomero, DC
Vomero Chiropractic & Holistic Center

7324 E. 6th Avenue
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Contact Dr. Joseph Vomero


1. Ravnskov U. An elevated serum cholesterol is secondary, not causal, in coronary heart disease. Medical Hypotheses 1991;36:238-41.

2. Krumholz HM and others. Lack of association between cholesterol and coronary heart disease mortality and morbidity and all-cause mortality in persons older than 70 years. Journal of the American Medical Association 272, 1335-1340, 1990.

3. Paterson JC, Armstrong R, Armstrong EC. Serum lipid levels and the severity of coronary and cerebral atherosclerosis in adequately nourished men, 60 to 69 years of age. Circulation 1963;27:229-236.

4. Mathur KS, and others. Serum cholesterol and atherosclerosis in man. Circulation 1961;23:847-852.

5. Marek Z, Jaegermann K, Ciba T. Atherosclerosis and levels of serum cholesterol in postmortem investigations. American Heart Journal 1962;63: 768-774.

6. Méndez J, Tejada C. Relationship between serum lipids and aortic atherosclerotic lesions in sudden accidental deaths in Guatemala City. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1967;20:1113-1117.

7. Cabin HS, Roberts WC. Relation of serum total cholesterol and triglyceride levels to the amount and extent of coronary arterial narrowing by atherosclerotic plaque in coronary heart disease. American Journal of Medicine 1982;73:227-234.

8. Gore I, Hirst AE, Koseki Y. Comparison of aortic atherosclerosis in the United States, Japan, and Guatemala. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1959;7:50-54.

9. Resch JA, Okabe N, Kimoto K. Cerebral atherosclerosis. Geriatrics 1969;November:111-132.

10. U. Ravnskov. Is atherosclerosis caused by high cholesterol? published in Quarterly Journal of Medicine (2002; 95:397–403)

11. Kroneld R, and others. Hälsobeteende och riskfaktorer för hjärt- och kärlsjukdomar i östra och sydvästra Finland. Suomen Lääkärilehti 1990;45:735-739.

12. Ravnskov U. Implications of 4S evidence on baseline lipid levels. The Lancet 1995;346:181.

13. Q J Med 2003; 96: 927-934 U. Ravnskov High cholesterol may protect against infections and atherosclerosis.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. They are to support your health.

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