What do we know of cholesterol?
The majority of doctors today believe that there is such as a “healthy cholesterol level” but they are totally wrong. This is not “me” saying this but all the studies for the past 100 years that have been swept under the rug in order to sell statins. I am dead serious! So let’s talk about cholesterol.
Cholesterol is NOT MADE OF FAT
Cholesterol is made of a chemical our body produces in its conversion of animal meats to Acetyl CoA and Acetoacetyl CoA. Acetyl CoA and I quote “…is an important biochemical molecule in cellular respiration. It is produced in the second step of aerobic respiration after glycolysis and carries the carbon atoms of the acetyl group to the TCA cycle to be oxidized for energy production” (source) and “Acetoacetyl CoA is the precursor of HMG-CoA in the mevalonate pathway, which is essential for cholesterol biosynthesis. It also takes a similar role in the ketone bodies synthesis (ketogenesis) pathway of the liver” (source). Note the term “ketone bodies” so those on the ketogenic diet have this readily available. Those on carbs burning diet do not and have to make it.
So the facts so far
Cholesterol is not made from fat of any kind but it made as part of the cellular respiration, which is what allows you to live.
The second myth is that there is such as an ideal cholesterol level. Ideal to whom? For what? What actually does cholesterol do to decide if its production is ideal? So let me take the answer to this step by step.
1) Is there an ideal cholesterol level? – you bet except that no two persons have identical cholesterol ideal levels. Why? Because cholesterol has major functions in our body and depending on who you are and what you need your body to do to stay healthy, your level of cholesterol will vary. I explain below what cholesterol does.
2) Ideal to whom? Can we say that a male Marathon runner at age 30 needs the same cholesterol as a little old lady at age 95? No? Interesting. As per current today’s doctors they are the same. I think you can see that there is something wrong with that. Why that is I explain in the next point.
3) For what? Why does the body need cholesterol and how does it make it? We can use cholesterol when it is given (egg yolks, for example) or make our own from cellular respiration as noted above. Cellular respiration is VERY important because it actually does not mean “breathing” but energy production, which we call ATP.
A healthy cellular respiration produces exactly as much ATP as your body needs.
If you produce less you feel tired or sick and if you produce more you feel energized but if you don’t use that energy you may end up with a bunch of free radicals and get sick. So this is cellular respiration (not you taking a breath). Thus cholesterol is produced based on the activity level of your cellular respiration. So the 30-year old male Marathon runner will “make” more cholesterol but that says nothing about how much he needs! The little old lady at age 95 who sits in the wheelchair all day is not making so much cholesterol but is what she makes enough? Frankly: WE HAVE NO CLUE. Why? No one ever studied what a good cholesterol level is so we just don’t know.
Since Ancel Keys it has been assumed that we do not need cholesterol (and that cholesterol is made of fat!) and any research along the lines of its importance was trashed, not published, not funded, researchers fired as they always became the black sheep of the research community. Does this make sense? No, but it sure made and continues to make a lot of money for a few!
4) “But we know that high levels of cholesterol cause heart failures!” False. In autopsies of people with cardiac failures, the majority have low cholesterol (yes, exactly the opposite of what we have been told). That’s because even today doctors only look at total cholesterol and that is totally meaningless. People who show cholesterol deposits in their arteries and die as a result of heart issues have triglycerides in their arteries.
Guess how you get triglycerides into your arteries? 2 ways:
1) eating a bunch of sugar and refines carbs like flour and
2) having high BP caused by such triglycerides and too much sugary stuff, diabetes (diabetes and heart trouble are linked!).
High BP means the blood speeds at very high pressure and sugar makes the blood more acidic than it should be (blood is the only alkaline part of our body); it damages the lining of the artery and little tears appear. Triglycerides’ have a job in the blood: fix the tear! So yeah…. People who die of cardiac arrest will show atherosclerosis (cholesterol in the arteries) but they all will be triglycerides, caused by high BP that is caused by eating too much refined carbs and sugar.
Does THIS have anything to do with EVERYONE’S cholesterol?
No! Especially not if you don’t eat refined carbs and also complex carbs without fiber–like if you eat an apple with the skin on that is great. Drink the apple as a juice or smoothie or shake or eat it as a sauce and you are building triglycerides! Not so great!
5) What does cholesterol do so we can evaluate if it is ideal or not in its levels? So finally, in case you want to know why we even have cholesterol: cholesterol is THE most important thing in the human body. First of all, all of the cholesterol in our body has a healing function. 25% of all cholesterol we have is in our brain in the “white matter” where it is myelinating our brain cells so we can fire voltages without leaks—leaks cause seizures and plaques that lead to brain damage. We also know that this myelination process allows smooth voltage firing and helps in migraine management.
The other functions of cholesterol are as follows:
a) cholesterol creates what is called Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is the base of mitochondrial energy creation. As I noted earlier, cholesterol’s basic material is created by cellular respiration: CoQ10 is the 1st through 3rd steps of this cellular respiration. If you take statins, you cannot make CoQ10 and your cellular respiration is shot, mitochondria damaged. This is why the FDA put warning label on statins about muscle damage, brain damage, etc. One of the pharmaceutical companies actually patented statins with CoQ10 to prevent this but they realized that adding CoQ10 back would be admission to how damaging statins are and so they decided not to add it!
b) cholesterol creates DHEA—it is aldosterone. Guess what aldosterone controls: your entire hydration system and electrolyte homeostasis. So if you have not enough cholesterol, your aldosterone system may not function well and hence you may have too much of one mineral or the other that are retained in your kidneys and you cannot come to electrolyte homeostasis. This can cause a ton of severe problems, including heart damage.
c) cholesterol makes progesterone! Yep, the female steroid hormone. Females need more cholesterol than man do actually. Progesterone turns into cortisol, a very important hormone of arousal. It is what gets your out of bed in the morning and also controls your stress. So
d) cholesterol makes cortisone, a glucocortisol secreted from the adrenal cortex (atop your kidneys)
e) cholesterol creates testosterone! As you can tell, some men have a ton of testosterone and others not so much. Thus here is just one instance where you can see that cholesterol level MUST be different for everyone.
f) cholesterol makes estrogen – yep… so your femininity is dependent upon your cholesterol level. The more fertile you are implies that the higher level of cholesterol you make. Thus reducing cholesterol reduces your femininity as well.
There are many complicated charts out there but I found this simple one from Wikipedia that can help you see some of the steps but not all in simple terms.
Comments are welcome, as always!
Hi, a few months ago I’ve started a diet with 60-15-15 percentage of fat, carbo and protein. At the time I was inspired by another source but that does’n matter as the recommendations were similar. One problem I encountered is that what I call the “volume” of the food necessary to add up to 2000 calories is definitively small. If I don’t eat plenty of cooked vegetables my stomach feels empty although I drink at least 2 liters of water. Do you know how to get a sence of saciety without the volume of vegetables?
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Your numbers don’t add up. 60+15+15=90 so you are missing 10% of your diet in something–not sure what. One of the problems with vegetables is that they are carbohydrates. As carbohydrates, they only produce 4 Calories of energy (turning into glucose mind you) as opposed to fat that produces 9 (and doesn’t turn into glucose unless it must). Protein also (we say) produces 4 Calories, in reality less because part of protein also converts to glucose, and that part of protein only converts to 3 Calories but 4 is good enough for the sake of discussion.
As you can see from this, if you want to most Caloric energy from the least amount of food, you need to eat more fat–and enable your fat-burning ability. My diet is over 80% fat, only 14-16% protein and 6-4% carbs respectively. The amount of fat you eat puts you on the official Mediterranean diet (not what the Americans call Mediterranean but the real stuff) and that is not heavy in vegetables but heavy in fish and olive oil. They eat no potatoes and grain is only very seldom if any.
If you are hungry, I recommend you reduce your carbs and increase your fat and enter the world of ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet differs in more ways than one from the SAD (Standard American Diet) or the Mediterranean in that not only are you eating mostly fat, reduced protein and minimal carbs but also you burn these fuels more efficiently so you actually need fewer calories to reach the same goal. This no one is talking about and which I just figured out recently. Everyone says that the ketogenic diet is a “calorie restricted diet” but actually it is not restricted at all. Only since it burns more efficiently, less is lost and thus more is available to the body.
To explain this further requires a book–which I may write–but in short: carbs burning metabolism produces extra thermal energy which is a waste plus it creates free radicals by the oxidation process at the pyruvate step–something that the ketogenic diet doesn’t have. The ketogenic diet is much more efficient in thermal energy and since it lacks the pyruvate step, it also lack free radicals. This means that while the carbohydrate metabolic process takes up 2 pages in drawing, the ketogenic burning process is a few steps I can draw on a corner of a page.
This high efficiency and loss of less energy means that what may be a 2000 calorie need in the carbs burning diet, may just be an 1800 calorie equivalent in a fat burning diet–I have no exact numbers, this is just a guestimate. For this reason, I believe, the caloric calculators of how many calories you need a day are wrong to use for a diet other than SAD.
You are not on the SAD but whatever diet you picked is not right for you if you are hungry.
I recommend you take it one notch higher and get on the ketogenic diet. The trick is to do it right. I find that most books and websites–blogs, diet pages, FB, wherever–ignore the “health” aspect and head for the “diet” aspect. One need not be on a weight loss diet to be on the ketogenic diet! It is not for weight loss–it is completely coincidental that people lose weight. It is not mandatory. I started a ketogenic diet group on FB in desperation to save those who wish to do it for health or even if for weight loss, do it the right way.
Hope this helps you see the problem. 🙂
Thanks for all this clarification. Sure my math was wrong (I think it is 60-25-15 and it’s an average as it varies slightly day by day). I accept your suggestion that there is something wrong if I’m hungry without putting some volume into my stomach and I will dig further into the subjet. Thank you
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You are welcome! 🙂
People living round the Mediterranean have eaten bread for millenia.
yeah Madge, they do only not often. Usually a small side dish and not every day.
In the ratio of HDL and LDL what can’t hurt are natural oils which at room temperature are not solid. Like all things within nature; balance IS SOUGHT AND IT IS OUR EMOTIONS THAT GAGE HOW WELL WE ARE IN TUNE WITH ALL THE THINGS YOU CANNOT NOT BE.
Hi Angela: I love reading your blog but I have to tell you, for me only I am sure, I am confused. My level of trust in the mainstream medical profession is very limited but we seem to be stuck with it. I pay for a high end medical clinic (Copeman) and have a dietitian. I am about 25 lbs. heavier than I want to be but more to the point I have always hoped for food to be my medicine. Physically I am reasonably healthy but it is not doing what I had hoped for my mental well-being. With all this information I feel I should be able to go to the grocery story and into my kitchen and cook something that I both enjoy but more importantly is doing me good. I feel like throwing up my hands. I no longer understand what any of it means. Now if I don’t, as an average person, and a person who does attempt to be a conscious consumer, what is everyone else doing? I have been a vegetarian (80/20 meat) for 30 years. I eat fruit and vegetable, get my protein. I thought I was supposed to be eating grains, but am wondering about that! Just don’t know anymore. Keep up the blog and maybe I will get it soon. Love you dear lady. Louise
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I am not surprised that you are confused Louise! Most people are and just give up. That is what I am trying to remedy by explaining what is healthy and what is not–it is very hard to go through unpublished information and find the lies in published information, so it has been (and continues to be) a great journey of learning. I think I can help you though since some of the things you have been told to eat are actually wrong.
Take the 80/20 vegetarian. First let’s take apart vegetarian–and I really am trying to keep this at a scientific level without any criticism toward anyone but I know some people (not you) always misunderstand something and take offense.
Vegetables have 1 goal in mind: reproduce. To achieve that, they create natural toxins that helps them save their seeds and gives a chance for their offspring’s survival by endowing them with these toxins as well. These toxins are natural insecticides that protect the plant and the seeds (or fruits or nuts or whatever) from anything that wants to destroy them by eating them. So what are vegetarians doing all day long? eat them.
So lesson #1: vegans and vegetarians eat a ton of plant toxins, that the plants create, which are natural insecticides and thus nerve toxins.
Our immune system was designed such that it turns on protection in response to internal stress. Plant toxins represent such internal stress and so the immune system turns on high gear to remove the invading toxins. All is great as long as the amount of toxins don’t cross a threshold beyond which it cannot function well anymore.
So lesson #2: vegans and vegetarians reduce their immune systems’ power by giving internal stress to the immune system all day long. In effect they burn out their immune system.
Additional issues come from the fact that vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains are all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates turn into glucose and fructose in the body (including starches that also turn into glucose). There are two parts to this story: glucose and fructose so let me separate.
Glucose: the moment your tongue detects glucose, insulin is spiked. Because everything a vegan or vegetarian eats (80% in this case) is carbs, much of which converts to glucose, your insulin is being spiked constantly. The human body’s default is fat burning (ketogenic) because humans, like other carnivores, went through seasonal famine, such as winters without any carbohydrates, and so the default fuel burning mode is ketones, which does not use insulin. Insulin is used for the seasonal short bursts of time when carbs were available. Even in nations where carbs are always available–like the Masai in Africa–they chose to not eat any because its nutritional value is very small compared with meat, blood, and milk (ketogenic). So the human body is not really able to keep up with so much insulin production. In reading data from academic literature reporting type 2 diabetes, vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
So lesson #3: vegans and vegetarians are more likely to end up diabetic than those who eat fewer carbohydrates and more animal/fish and animal fat.
Fructose: Fructose can take on 2 metabolic pathways. 1) when eaten attached to insoluble fiber, such as the skin of a fruit or vegetable, fructose never stops until it hits the gut, where the gut flora converts fructose to energy for the human body and enhances the quality of the gut flora. Eating fructose this way is healthy. 2) popular juicing, smoothies, shakes, etc., break the chemical bond between fructose and insoluble fiber so even if a juicer puts the fiber back into the juice, fructose now takes a different metabolic path from the gut. It now gets stuck in the liver. In the liver though it first converts to ethanol, which is an alcohol–so kids getting apple juice or orange juice or similar for “oh so healthy” are stuffed with ethanol alcohol in their liver… not exactly healthy! The liver though does not keep the fructose in ethanol form for long since it has to convert it to something that the body may be able to use. So it converts it to triglycerides! Triglycerides are the worst kind of cholesterol. They are small and dense and are responsible for many cardiac ailments.
So lesson #4: vegans and vegetarians are more likely to end up with high triglycerides and associated cardiac conditions.
Because the liver has such a difficult time converting fructose, it usually gets inflamed a bit and enlarged as well. This is called “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.” This is not just for vegans and vegetarians but all people who drink juices, smoothies, shakes, etc., are much more likely therefore to end up with such fatty liver, which can end up in cirrhosis and liver cancer. This, by the way, is reversible–I explain that in a moment. The enlarged liver is part of the metabolic syndrome that comes also with hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiac diseases, etc.
So lesson #5: we must eat as little fructose as possible to stay healthy
A final thing worthy to mention is the lack of proper fats in the diets of vegans and vegetarians (though vegetarians eat meat and have better fats than vegans but for the sake of simplicity I keep this under one roof). In reading the functions of human cells, what they are made of and how they work, particularly the most important element in it: mitochondria, which is the sole creature responsible for everything we do. Mitochondria’s walls are made up of cholesterol and fat and they use fats to create energy (ATP) for us to use. We are “animals” and so our cells are animal cells, needing animal fats. Vegetable fats, though are plentiful, have different fatty acids from animal cells and are thus not compatible with human fats. This causes a problem that ends up causing a lot of triglycerides deposits in the arteries of vegans in particular and potentially vegetarians who don’t eat enough meat with the right types of fats–you can see on my article I posted yesterday about comparing fats in fish and porterhouse steak what problems vegetarians may face. Fish may have loads of Omega 3 oils but they also have a lot more polyunsaturated fats than a steak. Polyunsaturated fats are unstable (poly meaning double bonds in this case) break down in heat and create free radicals and a goo in the arteries. While animals also have polyunsaturated fats, way less so than fish or even olive oil! These are very important factors! Without proper fats and without proper cholesterol types the fat soluble vitamins cannot be carried and absorbed and vitamin D cannot be synthesized by the sun through our skin.
So lesson #6: vegans, in particular, and vegetarians to some degree lack proper fats and cholesterol to keep them healthy.
So first: what is a healthy human diet? Watch this video about the development of the human brain and why we are different from other mammals first: What is So Special About The Human Brain?
This will help you see that raw foods are out.
Next, knowing that we were carnivore mammals before agriculture and that we have the fat burning metabolism as our default, it is important to observe seasonality and what is available locally–like eating salad in 10 feet snow is not possible so in the winter being a vegan or vegetarian is not a normal state. It is important to also observe that as I noted, animal fats are necessary for our health and so we must eat animal fats. Animal fats are not much saturated fats than olive oil, and not even close to being as saturated as coconut oil interestingly–we have been misled for the past 80+ years. A healthy diet includes lots of animal fats and also olive oil–but vegetable oils are not for cooking. They can be used on salads as cold oils. Heat it and you may clog your arteries real good with the goo it becomes. All vegetable oils are in my trash looking real handsome! I use now only animal fats.
So now here I come to the reversal of the fatty liver I mentioned earlier: since the liver gets diseased as a result of fructose, you need to cut fructose out of your diet. What has fructose? Everything that is sweet in fruits and vegetables. Also never drink any juices or smoothies or shakes. Don’t eat any sweets. (Don’t eat sugar substitutes either since they cause type 2 diabetes as well). So simply no sweet stuff at all. I had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and I reversed that in 6 months by quitting all sweets (I have not touched anything sweet for over a year now). Quitting all sweets also will lower your triglycerides.
In terms of grain: we were told that grains are “heart healthy”… bunch of lies. Grains cannot be digested by humans (excuse me but last I looked I only had 1 stomach). As a result they are just “bulk.” Ever noticed that all grains come with nutrition enhancement? Interesting since grains are full of nutrition! They must be fortified because grains also prevent protein synthesis and thus the absorption of nutrients. Grains, with their bulk, dehydrate the body and cause periodic constipation. Since I quit grains I have yet to have a day with constipation! Since I quit grains, I also lost: allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis in my fingers, reversed my fatty liver, reversed my prediabetic condition, reduced my migraines, dropped a ton of inches (I am not looking at weight since I drink water for hydration so I weigh more hydrated but fit smaller clothing). And the list goes on.
I now actually switched to the ketogenic diet, I call my version “keto mild” which will be a special version of my Stanton Migraine Diet® just as soon as I finish the 2nd ed of my book.
So what is my recommendation for a healthy diet? Plenty of animal fats, at least 60% of your diet, about 25% of your diet to be animal protein and about 15% as carbohydrates without any sweets or grains. My diet has more fat and less carbs but it is a most amazing diet!
I hope this helps you make sense of things better!
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Thank you Angela, I am going to read it over and over. I don’t know if an old dog can learn new tricks, but I am going to try. I havenot read and digested all you have said yet but one thing stood out for me,”burn out the immune system”. I had eosinophilia, an immune disorder, several years ago and was very sick. I recovered from that but making headway in my overall health is just not happening. I so very much appreciate your valuable time and will not take anything you say negatively but rather I kind person trying to help, Hugs back, Louise
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Wow, the explanation totally hits target with the immune system Louise! Lots to think over. I gave you a ton of information here so take your time. It appears that a life style change may be what you need to get well! Let me know if you need more explanation.
Many hugs to you!
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Hi again, I would have emailed you but am not at home right now One thing that occurred to me is if you felt up to it can you give me, vis-a-vis my daily intake in grams or ounces. That would help give cubic dimension to this for me and help me make such a big change in a more accurate way rather than guessing 65%. Does that make sense and hope this helps someone else. I think this is a very common struggle to understand. Thanks so much Angela.
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Well that depends on the daily calories you need Louise.
Assuming the usual 2000 calorie diet, I can give you an example and you can convert that. It is important to know that a gram of fat generates 9 Calories of energy whereas carbohydrates and protein only 4! So if you have a 2000 Calorie diet and 60% of that is fat, then 2000*0.6=1200 Calories need to come from fat. Divide than by 9 to get how many grams: 133 grams fat. Mix of fats and all vegetables/fruits/grains also have fats so need to look that up in the USDA database or MyFitnessPal or wherever. Use/eat animal and fish fats as well as olive oil but olive only for raw foods and not for cooking. For cooking use only animal fats (buy organic on amazon or in organic store near you; don’t buy the grocery store “lard” since that is fake).
So you have 800 Calories left to split between protein (make that mostly animal protein though most (not all) vegetables, grains, fruits have some). The 25% protein thus calculated by taking the 25% of the 2000 and dividing that by 4 given it only generates 4 Calories per gram. So 2000*0.25=500 Calories from protein, divide that by 4 you get 125 gr protein. Next take 2000*0.15=300 Calories then come from carbs. Divide this by 4 to get the grams: 75 grams of carbs.
So on a 2000 Calorie diet: 133 gr fat, 125 gr protein and 75 gr carbs.
The carbs are “net carbs” so total carbs – fiber = net carbs. A couple of examples for you:
The food everyone thinks is super food (not): blueberries. Take a cup of blueberries: total carbs = 21.45 gr. Fiber is only 3.6 gr so the net carbs value for a cup of blueberries is 21.45-3.6=17.85 gr net carbs (this by the way is almost 5 teaspoons of sugar equivalent — calculate by dividing by 4 since 4 carb grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar). It only has 14.4 mg vitamin C and we need minimum 90 mg a day so you need to eat 6.25 cups of blueberries to get your daily C. It has no other nutrition and the so called “antioxidants” get destroyed in the intestines.
Compare the blueberries to raspberries, 1 cup. Total carbs: 14.69 and fiber 8 grams so net carbs 14.69-8=6.69 gr, which is about 1.5 teaspoons of sugar (huge drop!) and it has 33.2. mg vitamin C so more than twice the so called super fruit. It is also higher in potassium.
Compare to a baked russet potato with skin on: 1 medium potato (2-3 inches dia): total carbs 37.09 and fiber 4 so net carbs 37.09-4=33.9 gr net carbs, which is almost 9 teaspoons of sugar. it has exactly the same C as the blueberries but it has 25% of your daily need in potassium (952 mg), has all three types of fat: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated–unfortunately it has more polyunsaturated than monounsaturated and that is not that good.
But you get the feel I hope on what you are facing in understanding how to eat healthy. It becomes second nature after awhile and easy to do without any calculation. These days I only look at the database in response to others.
Hope this helps!
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Wow, thank you Angela. I have lots to read and study. I will start converting that into my brain. Its like anything when you get into a rhythm and that will take a while. I will start working the plan. Hugs, Louise
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