No More Limits on Dietary Cholesterol

Nutrition facts and measure tape

Fatty Diet

From May this year (2015) I started eating more fat after reading the Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey.

In particular I’ve been enjoying Bulletproof Coffee, (mold free coffee with grass fed unsalted butter and MCT oil) in the mornings as my breakfast. Here’s the article I wrote on it.

I’m often challenged on the high fat content of my diet in that it’s deemed unhealthy and I’m asked “are you not concerned about your cholesterol?”

Well folks I’m not concerned at all and here’s why.

People with high total cholesterol numbers aren’t any more likely to have a heart attack than those with low total cholesterol. 

It’s been researched and studied and proven.  Seriously, Google it.

Many of you are still under the false impression that eating cholesterol-rich foods will cause your cholesterol levels to skyrocket and increase your risk of heart disease.

Many of you also avoid healthy animal foods like butter, grass-fed beef, and eggs because the cholesterol they contain has been vilified by conventional nutritionists working off of public-health agency guidelines.

As recently as 2010, US dietary guidelines described cholesterol-rich foods as “foods and food components to reduce.” They advised people to eat less than 300 milligrams (mg) per day, despite mounting evidence that dietary cholesterol has very little to do with cholesterol levels in your body.

In the UK they measure cholesterol differently than in the US. UK guidelines are currently as follows:

  • a total cholesterol of  5mmol/L or less,
  • a non HDL-cholesterol of  4mmol/L or less
  • an LDL-cholesterol of  3mmol/L or less are
  • a fasting triglyceride should be 2mmol/L or less
  • a non fasting triglyceride should be less than 4mmol/L

mmol/L stands for Millimoles per litre

Now, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has done a complete about-face. They are finally acknowledging what the science shows, which is that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

This latter statement, which came from a DGAC meeting, is expected to change the books, so to speak, when it comes to dietary cholesterol recommendations in the soon-to-be-released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The 2015 guidelines have not yet been finalised, but, according to a report in the Washington Post, “a person with direct knowledge of the proceedings said the cholesterol finding would make it to the group’s final report, which is due within weeks.”

The UK has been slower to respond

Advice issued by UK ‘experts’ in 1991 claimed eating too much saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels which increases the risk of heart disease.

But health campaigners have now demanded an urgent review of guidelines which have not been updated for years.

Consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra said: “Current dietary guidelines are [clearly] not helping the obesity problem and, to some degree, are contributing to it by promoting a ‘low fat is good for you’ message.

“I tell my own patients to eat wholefoods and consume more fats from olive oil, nuts and fish, for which there is good evidence heart attack and stroke are reduced.

“The current guidelines need to be overhauled so people eat nutritious wholefoods and don’t count calories.

Lets hope UK dietary guidelines follows US guidelines soon!

No More Limits on Dietary Cholesterol

DGAC has recommended limits on dietary cholesterol be removed from the upcoming 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This is a reversal of the cholesterol limitations that have been widely circulated since the 1960s.

Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen told USA Today: “It’s the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They’ve been wrong for decades.”4

Indeed, Dr. Nissen estimates that only 20 percent of your blood cholesterol levels come from your diet. The rest of the cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver, which it makes because your body needs cholesterol.

According to Chris Masterjohn, who received his PhD in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut:

“Since we cannot possibly eat enough cholesterol to use for our bodies’ daily functions, our bodies make their own. When we eat more foods rich in this compound, our bodies make less. If we deprive ourselves of foods high in cholesterol — such as eggs, butter, and liver — our body revs up its cholesterol synthesis.

The end result is that, for most of us, eating foods high in cholesterol has very little impact on our blood cholesterol levels. In seventy percent of the population, foods rich in cholesterol such as eggs cause only a subtle increase in cholesterol levels or none at all. In the other thirty percent, these foods do cause a rise in blood cholesterol levels.

Despite this, research has never established any clear relationship between the consumption of dietary cholesterol and the risk for heart disease… Raising cholesterol levels is not necessarily a bad thing either.”

You Might Be Getting Too Little Cholesterol in Your Diet

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), also believes it’s difficult to get “too much” cholesterol in your diet, particularly in the standard American diet. But you may very well be getting too little, and that can cause serious problems.

Dr. Seneff believes that placing an upper limit on dietary cholesterol, especially such a LOW upper limit as is now recommended, is likely causing far more harm than good.

Ancel Keys’ flawed research

Cholesterol has been demonised since the early 1950s, following the popularisation of Ancel Keys’ flawed research. But cholesterol has many health benefits. It plays a key role in regulating protein pathways involved in cell signaling and may also regulate other cellular processes.

It’s already known that cholesterol plays a critical role within your cell membranes, but research suggests cholesterol also interacts with proteins inside your cells, adding even more importance. Your body is literally composed of trillions of cells that need to interact with each other.

Cholesterol also plays an essential role in your brain, which contains about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body. It is critical for synapse formation, i.e. the connections between your neurons, which allow you to think, learn new things, and form memories (so drinking Bulletproof Coffee is good for brain health!!).

Low levels of HDL cholesterol has been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and may also increase your risk of depression, stroke, violent behaviour, and suicide.

In addition to helping produce cell membranes, cholesterol also plays a role in the production of hormones (including the sex hormones testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen) and bile acids that help you digest fat.

It’s also important for the production of vitamin D, which is vital for optimal health. When sunlight strikes your bare skin, the cholesterol in your skin is converted into vitamin D. It also serves as insulation for your nerve cells.

Meat and Soda Industries Fight New Dietary Guidelines

Doing away with dietary cholesterol limits was only one aspect of DGAC’s report. The Committee also recommended that Americans eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugary drinks and red meat. I don’t agree that red meat is a problem, provided it comes from a high-quality source and is pasture-raised. However, reducing red meat that comes from unsustainable sources, like concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), is sound advice.

The DGAC report even recommended that sugars should be reduced in the diet and not be replaced with low-calorie sweeteners, an important distinction, since artificial sweeteners are just as bad, if not worse, than natural sugar. The American Beverage Industry took issue with this, claiming such sweeteners help with weight loss, when in reality they’ve been linked to weight gain.

Why Feasting on Cholesterol-Rich Foods Is Good for You

Many of the healthiest foods also happen to be rich in cholesterol and saturated fats. Like cholesterol, saturated fat has also been wrongly vilified. In 2010, a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition came to the conclusion that there’s “no significant evidence… that saturated fat is associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease.”

And last year, another meta-analysis reached the same conclusion that current evidence does not support guidelines that encourage low consumption of saturated fats. After cholesterol, the flawed guidelines to limit saturated fat deserve attention. As noted by Forbes“[Dr.] Nissen also said that advice about reducing saturated fat and salt may be wrong, but no major change in these areas is expected in the new guidelines.”

Cholesterol and saturated fat rich animal foods should feature in your diet because of their many health benefits.

grass fed butter

Here are just a few examples:

  • Organic Pastured Eggs: Eggs are a phenomenal source of protein, fat, and other nutrients, including choline, selenium, biotin, B vitamins, phosphorus, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Grass-Fed Butter: Butter is a veritable health food rich in vitamins E, K2, and A, along with minerals, iodine, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
  • Grass-Fed Beef: Some of the benefits of grass-fed and grass-finished beef include high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and other healthy fats. It also has a more balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 (compared to grain-fed beef) and is higher in beta-carotene, certain minerals, vitamin E, and B vitamins.

One Exception: Damaged or Oxidised Cholesterol

Oxidised cholesterol is formed when polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as soybean, corn, and sunflower oils) are heated. A primary source is fried foods. This oxidised cholesterol (not dietary cholesterol in and of itself) causes increased thromboxane formation—a factor that clots your blood. Two of Dr. Fred Kummerow’s papers pertain to how these oils harden your arteries and play an important role in the development of atheorosclerosis. Dr. Kummerow has studied heart disease for more than 60 years. As noted by the New York Times, these oils are precisely the types of fats that Americans have been, and still are, urged to consume in lieu of saturated fats like butter.

“The problem, [Dr. Kummerow] says, is not LDL, the ‘bad cholesterol‘ widely considered to be the major cause of heart disease. What matters is whether the cholesterol and fat residing in those LDL particles have been oxidised… ‘Cholesterol has nothing to do with heart disease, except if it’s oxidised,’ Dr. Kummerow said… [He] contends that the high temperatures used in commercial frying cause inherently unstable polyunsaturated oils to oxidise, and that these oxidized fatty acids become a destructive part of LDL particles. Even when not oxidised by frying, soybean and corn oils can oxidise inside the body.”

So while naturally cholesterol-rich foods are good for you, if those foods are fried or heated to high temperatures, the cholesterol may become oxidised and this form of cholesterol should be avoided. There is some compelling evidence to suggest that heated fats may worsen insulin resistance more than sugar and may be more dangerous.

How to Optimize Your Cholesterol Levels

The goal of the guidelines below is not to lower your cholesterol as low as it can go, but rather to optimise your levels so they’re working in the proper balance with your body. Again, the majority of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimise your insulin level, you will tend to automatically optimise your cholesterol. This is why the primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol have to do with modifying your diet and lifestyle as follows (what you won’t find on this list is taking cholesterol-lowering medication or eating a low-cholesterol diet):

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating, grains and sugars in your diet. It is vitally important to eliminate gluten-containing grains and dangerous sugars especially fructose and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • Make sure you are getting plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil. Research suggests that as little as 500 mg of krill per day may improve your total cholesterol and triglycerides and will likely increase your HDL cholesterol.
  • Replace harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, grass-fed butter and coconut oil (remember olive oil should be used cold only, use coconut oil for cooking and baking).
  • Include fermented foods in your daily diet. This will not only optimize your intestinal microflora, which will boost your overall immunity, it will also introduce beneficial bacteria into your mouth. Poor oral health is another powerful indicator of increased heart disease risk.
  • Optimise your vitamin D levels, ideally through appropriate sun exposure as this will allow your body to also create vitamin D sulfate—another factor that may play a crucial role in preventing the formation of arterial plaque.
  • Exercise regularly. Make sure you incorporate high-intensity interval exercises such as PEAK 8, which also optimize your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of high-quality, restorative sleep.

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