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Cholesterol Okay Now?

Well, the government diet gurus have switched positions again. Now they don’t think cholesterol is bad for you. Not long ago, so-called experts were recommending even more people take statin drugs. You know – those delightful pills that make a large number of people who take them experience serious muscle deterioration, or amnesia, or other scary health problems.

Dr. Steven Nissen

The Harvard Health Blog reported Feb. 12 that the scientific panel for the 2015 update to Dietary Guidelines for Americans advised: “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA Today, “We got the dietary guidelines wrong.”

The reason, says Patrick J. Skerrett, executive editor of Harvard Health, is: “There’s a growing consensus among nutrition scientists that cholesterol in food has little effect on the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. And that’s the cholesterol that matters.”

Too much of a good thing

Patrick J. Skerrett

Just when it seems the scientists are making progress, they throw in a caveat, which the major alternative physicians disagree with. They say LDL cholesterol, the so-called bad variety, isn’t the culprit in heart ailments. It accumulates in the arteries only when and where there is inflammation, ramping up in the liver and shooting to the site to protect the artery. So the problem, they say, is inflammation. Also, the good cholesterol, HDL, works to get rid of LDL.

Skerrett goes on to recommend that, instead of worrying about cholesterol, “A better focus is on reducing saturated fat and trans fat in the diet, which play greater roles in damaging blood vessels than dietary cholesterol.”

Fat fact and fantasy

Okay, he got it half right. Trans fat is bad. Saturated fat isn’t. “In fact, did you know,” says Mike Geary, certified nutritionist and fitness author, “that although saturated fat intake does increase your LDL bad cholesterol, it actually increases your HDL good cholesterol even further, hence improving your overall cholesterol ratio, which has been proven to be more important than just total cholesterol level.”

Mike Geary

Evidence of that, Geary says, can be found in the Masai, Samburu and Fulani tribes in Africa, whose members live mostly on raw whole milk, red meat and cow’s blood, consuming five times the average amount of saturated fat that overweight, disease-ridden American eat. These people are slim, and are virtually free of diabetes and heart disease. That all changed for those who moved away from their native lands and switched to modern diets, when they became afflicted with risk factors for heart disease.

Dr. David Brownstein, renowned holistic physician, says the American public has been brainwashed by the medical establishment, including organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetic Association. They’ve made fat the enemy, he points out in his book The Skinny on Fats, co-authored with nutritionist Sheryl Shenefelt, even though good fat is a vital part of a healthy diet.

Dr. David Brownstein

Brownstein says statin drugs, which lower cholesterol, never have been proven to lower risk of a heart attack by more than 1 percent, and then only if the patient already has had a heart attack or stroke. The body needs cholesterol to make hormones, repair damaged cells, maintain cell membranes, and protect from free radical damage. It is useless in assessing risk for heart disease, he insists, as research shows that half of all heart attacks in the U.S. occur in persons with low cholesterol levels.

Big fat lie

The conclusions of these contrarians are based on research, not on hypotheses, which is what was behind the notion that cholesterol was an evil substance. Yet that’s been the conventional wisdom for about 55 years. And it’s not been overturned quite yet, as the departments of agriculture and health and human services still have to act on the recommended changes in the guidelines.

Last March, the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine reported that a meta-analysis of 72 studies involving 650,000 people from 18 countries showed no difference in heart disease among the lowest and highest consumers of saturated fat. That followed a smaller, but also quite large, meta-analysis concluded in early 2010 showing the same results. That one received hardly any media attention, and the second one received some, but not much, coverage. On the other hand, whenever so-called experts tout the glories of statin drugs, it makes a big media splash. Then again, these drugs are a huge industry, with billions of dollars involved.

Ignorance is bliss

Don’t these medical authorities who still condemn saturated fat read about these huge analyses?

Harvards’ Skerrett said, “A change in the recommendations about cholesterol in food is likely to be seen as another dietary flip-flop and undermine confidence in what’s known about healthy eating.”

Yeah – and maybe that’s a good thing.

#HDL #PatrickJSkerrett #DrDavidBrownstein #LDL #saturatedfat #HarvardHealth #ClevelandClinic #transfat #cholesterol #DietaryGuidelinesforAmericans #MikeGeary #DrStevenNissen #Massai

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