Get ready for your mind to be blown.
I am going to tell you that cholesterol is actually GOOD for you, contrary to what you might believe. I know, you still don’t believe me, right? It’s ok, it was hard to me to understand at first, too. However, the more I researched, the more I learned, and the more I began implementing these dietary changes in my life, the better I felt. After all, it wasn’t until I truly started changing my diet that my Lyme disease symptoms started to improve. Although healing is a practice and I still have a ways to go, I am nowhere near as sick as I used to be and I attribute so much of this to the changes I’ve made in my life, specifically dietary changes.
So, if cholesterol is good for you, then why have we all been told to avoid it like the plague? Well, to make a long story short, essentially the proponents of the “cholesterol is bad” theory have been a bit selective about their information, only using studies that support their idea (known as the Diet-Heart Hypothesis) and disregard those that are opposing. Some of these studies they’re referring to are summaries of the papers that doctors and researchers are most likely to read. Unfortunately, you have to thoroughly read and study the entire paper to understand the contradictory results. Most people rely on the summaries for an accurate conclusion since few have the neither time nor expertise to review on their own. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (founder of GAPS Diet) does a great job explaining this mess in more detail in her book, Put Your Heart in Your Mouth.
Now that we know we’ve been fed a bunch of lies (no pun intended), let’s discuss 4 amazing health benefits of cholesterol and why it is vital for optimal health.
1. Cholesterol and Saturated Fats Give our Body Structure
Our cell walls are comprised of fats and cholesterol, and without them, our cells would be loose and soft without structure. As Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride (GAPS Diet founder) puts it, without cholesterol, “…we would look like giant worms or slugs.” Studies have shown that cholesterol and fats prevent wrinkles and cellulite, as they both are directly related to the elasticity and firm structure of our cells. Cholesterol also helps our cells communicate to transport nutrients in and out of the cell. Essentially, our bodies could not function without cholesterol.
2. The Brain Runs on Cholesterol
Did you know about 25% of the body’s cholesterol is used by the brain?! Our entire nervous system actually requires cholesterol to function. Cholesterol is also incredibly important for making myelin, a fatty substance that nourishes and protects every part of our brain and nervous system (think of it like insulation tubing to electrical wires). Studies show that multiple sclerosis can be caused from lack of myelin and that foods in high cholesterol and high animal fat content are essential for a person with multiple sclerosis. If you inhibit the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, the brain and the rest of the nervous system become at risk.
3. Cholesterol is Essential For Healthy Hormone Balance
After the brain, the endocrine system has the biggest appetite for cholesterol. The endocrine system is essentially a bunch of hormone producing glands that help regulate a variety of functions, such as: metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, bone and muscle formation, emotions, and reproduction. Unfortunately, our stressful lifestyles inhibit the proper production of these hormones, causing an imbalance and adverse side effects like adrenal fatigue or even infertility. In fact, a study by Dr. Jorge Chavarro published in Human Reproduction, showed that women who drink whole milk and eat high-fat dairy products are more fertile than those who eat low-fat products. He said women who wanted to conceive should study their diet and avoid low-fat.
4. Cholesterol is Healing Agent
When the body has an injury, it immediately produces cholesterol and sends it to the wound. In more detail, when our liver receives the message that there’s a wound, it immediately sends cholesterol to the damage site. When the wound heals, cholesterol is removed and travels back to the liver. In fact, scar tissue is primarily comprised of cholesterol which is also why when cells are damaged, they require cholesterol and fats in order to repair. The body simply cannot clear infections, detoxify, or heal wounds without cholesterol and fats.
Now do I have you convinced cholesterol is not bad for you? I hope so! And hopefully now you’re thinking, ok I want to start eating healthy fats! But, where do I start? Well, first of all, YAY!! And thank you!!
Ok, here are a 3 ways to start incorporating healthy cholesterol into your diet:
3. Free Range Eggs
There are countless other health benefits of cholesterol, but hopefully these top points will encourage you to change your belief system on the way you think about cholesterol. For more information, especially regarding the Diet-Heart Hypothesis, I encourage you to read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Put Your Heart in Your Mouth.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below, how do you incorporate healthy cholesterol and fats into your diet? Or perhaps you have a health story you'd like to share on how adding these types of foods back into your diet has helped you...share your comments below!