The facts behind decades of cholesterol confusion

I think we need to stop the clock today. Because it seems as if there’s a revolution on the horizon when it comes to American dietary advice. More and more doctors are speaking out to debunk some longstanding cholesterol myths. And it’s sure been a long time coming.

The fact is, dietary cholesterol isn’t the threat to the public health it’s been portrayed as. Not even close. And in this day and age, it still amazes me that — for all the talk about it — most people (including a lot of doctors) don’t really know the first thing about cholesterol and the different ways it works in the body.

So let’s go over a few concepts that will fine-tune your understanding of cholesterol’s role in your health — details that are super important, but ones no one has probably bothered to explain before.

For starters, you’ll only find cholesterol in animals. Which is one reason why animal products have gotten such a bad rap. But the fact is that in humans, your own body — not your diet — manufactures the bulk of your cholesterol.

To drive this point home further, you should know that, when it comes to the cholesterol present in the intestines, only some is absorbed by your body. The rest of it is excreted in the stool. And once again, most of this cholesterol comes from bile and the intestines themselves. Only a relatively small portion comes from the cholesterol in the food you eat.

One final fun fact: HDL and LDL — what we commonly refer to as “good” and “bad” cholesterol — aren’t really cholesterol at all. They’re just the molecules (technically known as lipoproteins) that transport cholesterol. LDL chauffeurs cholesterol out into your body, while HDL brings cholesterol back to your liver to be metabolized.

If all that confused you, don’t feel too bad. Because it appears to confuse most doctors, too — seeing as how they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to cholesterol. And more specifically, when they advise you to restrict dietary cholesterol, which clearly has so little bearing on your body’s cholesterol levels.

So what kind of impact does cholesterol have on your heart, then? The answer depends on a lot more factors than you might think.

Let’s look at LDL levels, for starters. Setting aside the fact that this really isn’t the most important heart health factor, here’s something to consider. Any impact diet will have on LDL levels depends a great deal on your personal genetics.

Sure, you can reduce your saturated fat intake, in favor of unsaturated fats. But — assuming you already eat high-quality organic, grass-fed and finished meat, and milk and eggs from foraging outdoor hens — restricting saturated fat is going to have a negligible impact.

Not to mention the amazing nutrition you’d be missing out on. I’ve already debunked the longstanding myth that notoriously “high cholesterol” foods like eggs are bad for you (more than once, actually). But it bears repeating: Eggs don’t cause heart disease… and, in fact, they actively protect against it.

Now, to the government’s credit, the latest U.S. dietary guidelines tossed recommendations to limit dietary cholesterol out the window.

This isn’t to say that the guidelines aren’t plenty flawed — especially on the topic of meat. (I urge you to read the March 2015 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives, to get the full scoop. Subscribe today to gain instant access to this issue — and all of my archives.)

But at the very least, it appears that things are finally looking up when it comes to real, hard science dictating what to eat and what not to eat. The only problem now is getting the message out to consumers after decades of dubious advice.

So allow me to do my part now: If you want a cheese omelet for breakfast every morning, rest assured that there’s absolutely no reason you can’t have one. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of a better choice.