There are a lot of misconceptions about cholesterol and the role that it plays in the health of our hearts and beyond. Let’s simplify.
First, cholesterol is NOT the enemy! This perfectly innocent sterol- a combination of a steroid and alcohol is necessary for many bodily functions. Cholesterol is needed for many many things in the body. It’s needed to make sex hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. Cholesterol repairs damaged cells and maintains the integrity of the cell to extend cell life. It transfers nutrients to the brain to protect from dementia, and it maintains the integrity of the intestinal tract. It also helps with serotonin receptor firing which is essential for felling happy, fabulous and on top of our game.
Cholesterol also plays a huge role in combating systemic inflammation. Imagine your body is a house and inflammation is a fire. Cholesterol is the fire truck that comes racing to put the fire out. Without the fire truck, the house is destroyed by the fire. Without satisfactory levels of cholesterol, inflammation is left to do it’s thing with very little work against it. Without cholesterol we would die.
MYTH #1– Fat makes you fat!
First, body fat is created when excess CARBS need to be stored. Second, increasing dietary fat consumption can help you lose weight in many many ways. It keeps you satiated, reducing crazy hunger pains and preventing overeating and bingeing. Omega-3 fats help turn on genes that are involved with fat-burning while turning off the genes that store fat. And finally, eating a greater proportion of fat allows for balance of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen and that makes losing fat and maintaining a lean physique much easier. (note: these points assume that you decrease your consumption of carbohydrates as you increase your consumption of fat.)
Myth #2– Fat clogs your arteries and leads to heart disease!
What causes arterial plaque is not fat but cholesterol– and although cholesterol is found in fat, dietary cholesterol has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels. As far as leading to heart disease: Increasing dietary fat consumption reduces your blood triglyceride level, the main risk factor in heart disease. Low-fat diets, on the other hand, can actually cause triglycerides to go up.
Myth #3- Fat has no nutrients
Fat is full of nutrients! It’s loaded with vitamins A, E, and K2. In fact, fat-soluble vitamins need fat in order to be absorbed by the body. Plus there are all kinds of benefits that come with fat that aren’t often advertised:
- – Adequate intake of healthy fats helps prevent depression (which can be a side effect of a low fat diet!) Depression can be caused by a deficiency of cholesterol and fat in the brain, resulting in lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which makes people feel good.
- – Increasing dietary fats and reducing carbs lowers blood sugar and insulin levels and helps keep blood sugar stable. As a result, you’ll have fewer cravings and steadier energy.
- – Fats help you maintain your ideal weight by keeping your metabolism balanced and healthy.
If you’re still on the fence, try this cravings challenge: For a week, anytime you crave a high carb or high sugar food, have a high fat snack instead like an avocado, a spoonful of sunflower butter, a handful of macadamia nuts, or even a glob of coconut oil. Within 10 minutes, the cravings will be gone.
Credit: Leeann Vogel