The Truth About Cholesterol | Part 2

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

Hey guys, my name is Amy Jane and welcome
back to my channel. This is part 2 of a series titled “The Truth
about Cholesterol.” If you haven’t already, go check out part
1 of this series where I talk about cholesterol myths, the dangers of cholesterol-lowering
drugs like statins, and my dietary recommendations. That will be linked below in the description
box as well as at the end of this video. I’m a Registered Dietitian, and in today’s
video I’m briefly going to discuss the flaws of cholesterol research and how we got it
all wrong. As I am sure you know, we have warned Americans
since the 1960’s that dietary cholesterol is bad. We were taught that it will raise your blood
cholesterol, which will create plaque in your arteries, and therefore increase your risk
for a heart attack or stroke. But how did this idea that dietary cholesterol
is bad, actually start in the first place? In 1913, there was a Russian pathologist named
Nikolaj Anitschkow who was experimenting with cholesterol on animals. And he reported that feeding rabbits mega doses
of cholesterol induced atherosclerotic type lesions, or plaque. This led to the widespread view the cholesterol
in the diet, such as in eggs, must cause atherosclerosis, or heart disease. To test his theory, this exact experiment
was widely replicated on a variety of animals including cats, sheet, cattle, and horses. However, I want to point out one big problem
in this experiment. Rabbits, along with most of the other animals
used in the experiments, are all inherently herbivores. So, they don’t normally eat animal food
and therefore are not biologically designed to metabolize cholesterol. When the experiment was replicated on dogs,
who were designed to eat meat as humans are, hence the canine, they demonstrated an ability
to regulate an extreme intake of cholesterol. Animal trials will never be as useful as human
trials, but the canine comparison is a much better model for humans. Yet, the rabbit experiment was the only research
that actually made it to the public which created the fear of cholesterol in our society. I also want to mention that the cholesterol
used in the rabbit experiment was dissolved in vegetable oil and therefore was not how
it is found naturally. So this experiment does not show us a true
comparison to eating an egg or any other natural food product containing cholesterol. Ancel Keys, who was seen as a nutrition pioneer
in his day, heard about these rabbit experiments and did some testing himself, but with humans. And he found that no matter how much cholesterol
he gave the participants in the study, the cholesterol levels in the blood remained unchanged. He found that adding dosages of cholesterol
upwards of 3000 mg per day, so similar to the amount found in 15 eggs, had only a trivial effect
on blood cholesterol. Many other studies have actually reinforced this conclusion. In one case, a Swedish doctor named Uffe Ravnskov,
upped his consumption of eggs from 1 to 8 per day for a week straight and discovered
that his total cholesterol level actually went down. Next let’s talk about the Framingham Study. This study had a huge impact on why the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans decided to officially tell the public to restrict dietary cholesterol. Findings from the Framingham study first appeared
to correlate blood cholesterol to coronary atherosclerosis. However, 30 years later in the “Framingham
Follow-Up Study”, this proved to be untrue. Because 30 more years had gone by, investigators
had more data because a greater number of participants had passed on and therefore we
could study what they died from. It turned out that the correlation of total
cholesterol to heart disease, was very weak. For reference, currently the field of medicine
defines blood cholesterol levels of less than 200 mg/dL normal and healthy. In this study, men and women with cholesterol
between 205 and 264 showed no relationship to heart disease. In fact, half of the people who had heart
attacks had cholesterol levels below the “normal” level. In men aged 48 to 57, those with cholesterol
in the mid-range of 183 to 222, had a greater risk of heart attack death than
those with higher cholesterol ranging from 222 to 261 mg/dL. This shows us that total cholesterol did not
turn out to be a reliable predictor for heart disease after all. The MRFIT Study is another that greatly affected
our nutrition recommendations to lower cholesterol in the diet. This study was done in the 1970s and afterwards
published a graph to demonstrate cholesterol levels and mortality over the course of six
years. However, our recommendations to lower cholesterol
in the diet were based off of only part of the chart, while ignoring other very important
findings. At first the chart seems to obviously point
to high cholesterol as the culprit, but let’s take a deeper look. Remember that what medicine defines as “normal
and healthy” blood levels are anything less than 200 mg/dL. The chart shows that all-cause mortality is
the same from cholesterol ranging from 152-250 mg/dL. Notice the striking increase in all-cause
mortality at the lowest level of cholesterol. And finally, notice how total cholesterol
has nothing to do with the chance of dying from a stroke. So, while some people did indeed have a higher
risk of heart attack at certain cholesterol levels, this shows us that simply keeping
our cholesterol levels below 200, which is our current medical recommendation, does
not significantly decrease our risk for heart disease. Who’s to say what really caused these heart
events? I would love to see this exact graph done
depicting the participants sugar consumption and other variables like their activity level and
smoking. There are plenty of studies out there showing
that what we consider “high” cholesterol actually decreases heart disease risk and
health issues. For example, I came across a study that found
people with the highest cholesterol levels had the best memory. And on the other hand, another study concluded that
people with low cholesterol had higher rates of depression, aggression, and suicidal thoughts. And these are just 2 of many studies that challenge
our current beliefs on blood cholesterol levels and restrictions. There are hundreds of research papers that
never made it to the public spotlight that conclude cholesterol may not be the bad guy
and in fact might be protective. As always, please don’t just take my word
for it. I have given you a quick blurb or summary,
but go read these studies or research papers for yourself. Any studies I mentioned are listed in the
description box below. And I also listed a couple books that really opened
my eyes to the bigger picture of cholesterol. Again, If you haven’t already, go check
out part 1 of this series linked below. Stay tuned for my next video in this series
where I will explain why LDL-Cholesterol is not a reliable blood test to determine heart
disease risk. In that video, I will provide you with a list
of blood tests that are much better indicators for heart disease. If you enjoyed this type of content and want
to see more, let me know by liking this video and subscribing. And if you have any questions on the subject,
please leave them in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by and I will see you
next time!

4 thoughts on “The Truth About Cholesterol | Part 2

  1. Great video, thanks for sharing. I wonder how the graphs would change if they differentiated between HDL and LDL cholesterol. Looking forward to the next video!

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