(NaturalNews) Cholesterol is labeled as one of the top health villains in society today, but some researchers say it isn't the harmful substance that agencies claim. In fact, there is evidence that points to cholesterol having a positive effect on the body. One benefit that may be related to higher cholesterol is a lower rate of infection.
In 1984 a study was published in the Journal of Holistic Medicine which showed that cholesterol can function as an antioxidant, protecting the body from free radicals and therefore strengthening the immune system. Cholesterol is a precursor to vitamin D, which is a necessary nutrient for immune system function. It is also a precursor to corticosteroids, hormones that protect the body against stress. Stress, as we know, suppresses the immune system.
At the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota, records of 19 studies were reviewed, examining the causes of death in more than 68,000 cases. The results of these studies showed many patients who died of diseases with infectious origins also had low cholesterol levels.
To determine whether low cholesterol caused infection or if infection caused low cholesterol, Professor David R. Jacobs and Dr. Carlos Iribarren looked at more than 100,000 healthy individuals over a period of 15 years. Those who began the study with low cholesterol levels suffered from more cases of infection than those with higher cholesterol levels.
Of course, like all fats, cholesterol does come in both good forms and bad. Highly processed cholesterol that has been exposed to heat and oxygen can become damaged and oxidized. Similar to refined fats, this type of cholesterol is not healthy for the body.
It seems as if many studies done today to examine the effects of cholesterol in the body are performed with the preconceived idea that cholesterol can only be harmful. We may benefit from further research that truly examines the causes of high cholesterol and the resulting effects.
Conditions that raise cholesterol levels, such as chronic stress and hypothyroidism, may actually be the primary cause behind diseases for which high cholesterol often takes the blame.
It's around every corner, on television commercials, in health magazines and even in bold print on product labels on the grocery shelves: cholesterol gets plenty of media coverage as the bad guy. It's time to take another look at this mislabeled substance and see if cholesterol is, indeed, the cause of serious health problems such as heart disease. The very thing we've been told to avoid like the plague may be a missing element in today's highly processed diet.
Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats, Revised Second Edition. (2001)
About the author
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...