Unraveling the myth of 'bad' cholesterol

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: cholesterol, myths, heart disease

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(NaturalNews) Scratch what you think you know about the supposed ill effects of cholesterol. Turns out, it's not the villain it's been made out to be, says one notable expert.

Writing for the online medical journal, Dr. Ron Rosedale, M.D., a noted international authority on nutrition and metabolic medicine, says that despite the common belief that cholesterol is the primary culprit behind cardiovascular disease and "despite dozens of studies, cholesterol has not been shown to actually cause CVD."

In fact, Rosedale says, cholesterol "is vital to our survival," and that trying to reduce our levels of cholesterol could actually be harmful, especially as we grow older.

Rosedale, founder of The Rosedale Center, co-founder of the Colorado Center for Metabolic Medicine (Boulder, CO USA) and founder of the Carolina Center of Metabolic Medicine, even dispels the myth regarding "good" and "bad" cholesterol.

"Cholesterol is needed to make hormones. Without it we would not produce estrogen, progesterone or testosterone," he says. "It is vital for the functioning of nerve synapses and provides the structural integrity for our cell membranes."

In addition, Rosedale points out, cholesterol is used by the skin as a way to prevent water evaporation and make our skin "waterproof." Also, he notes that cholesterol synthesizes vitamin D, and bile - which is used by the body to digest fat - is made up mostly of cholesterol.

"The liver produces about 90 percent of the cholesterol in our bodies; only 10 percent comes from diet. If we eat too much cholesterol, the liver decreases the output of cholesterol," he says.

Necessary for survival

In addition, Rosedale says, cholesterol is a "naturally occurring lipid," which means it's a type of fat or oil that's "essential" to creating and sustaining membranes of the cells of all bodily tissues.

"So this alone means we need cholesterol to survive! Most of the cholesterol that is found in our bodies is actually naturally manufactured within our own cells," he said.

There's more.

The key organs and structures that require cholesterol to function properly are the brain, spinal cord and liver, Rosedale notes, "none of which would work well" with overly reduced cholesterol levels.

"In effect cholesterol plays an essential role in the development and maintenance of healthy cell walls. It is also a critical factor in the synthesizing of steroid hormones, which are a key factor in our natural physical development," the nutritionist, who's work with diabetics has been groundbreaking, wrote.

Food industry to blame for so much misinformation?

Rosedale blames a lot of what he calls "noddy science" regarding cholesterol on the food industry, which he says created the myth about bad cholesterol and good cholesterol.

"This is, in fact, totally untrue. The cholesterol itself, whether being transported by [low-density lipoprotein] or [high-density lipoprotein], is exactly the same. Cholesterol is simply a necessary ingredient that is required to be regularly delivered around the body for the efficient healthy development, maintenance and functioning of our cells," he said. "The difference is in the 'transporters' (the lipoproteins HDL and LDL) and both types are essential for the human body's delivery logistics to work effectively."

There can be delivery problems regarding cholesterol, however.

"Problems can occur [...] when the LDL particles are both small and their carrying capacity outweighs the transportation potential of available HDL," Rosedale said. "This can lead to more cholesterol being 'delivered' around the body with lower resources for returning excess capacity to the liver."

But in the end, cholesterol is not the boogey man. In fact, "cholesterol is an important and essential substance that we need for health at a cellular level," Rosedale says. "It is most likely that any imbalance in our cholesterol transport system comes down to long-term poor dietary and exercise habits."

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