Cholesterol Education to Protect Your Heart

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Cholesterol
Last Reviewed 03/25/2014

Cholesterol Education to Protect Your Heart

Learn the Real Truth About Cholesterol and Saturated Fat that Your Doctor Will Likely Never Tell You

Every September, since 1985, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute promote National Cholesterol Education Month to warn the public about the supposed heart-health horrors of high cholesterol and saturated fat. My opinion about cholesterol and fat—no matter what the month—is, however, quite different. And I deliver my unique cholesterol stance loud and clear in the book I’ve written with Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., a best-selling author and well-known nutritional/health expert, entitled The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan That Will (Fair Winds Press).

The title says it all, and the book, packed with powerful research, expert opinions, and our own combined clinical experience, constitutes a comprehensive defense of cholesterol and saturated fat.

VIDEO: Dr. Sinatra Debunks the Great Cholesterol Myth! What You Really Need to Know to Protect Your Heart

The two of us wrote this book because we believe strongly that the public has been misinformed and in some cases directly lied to about cholesterol. We believe that a combination of faulty information, scientifically questionable studies, corporate greed, and deceptive marketing has created one of the most enduring and damaging myths in medical history: that cholesterol causes heart disease.

Many, many millions of marketing dollars have perpetuated these cholesterol myths and kept the public narrowly focused on a relatively minor participant in the development of heart disease, and, in the process, generated nearly $30 billion per year in sales of cholesterol-lowering drugs. The real tragedy is that by putting so much emphasis on the dangers of cholesterol, the actual causes of heart disease—inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress—have been largely ignored.

Fat Phobia Falters

In the book, Dr. Bowden explains how, at the beginning of his career, which started as a personal trainer for a major New York City health club, he had vigorously promoted the low-fat mantra to his clients. Yet he soon found that clients did better on diets with ample fat, similar to my own clinical experience and research.

We both read some of the same studies that put additional doubts into our minds about cholesterol myths and independently led us to believe that lowering cholesterol and saturated-fat intake has almost nothing to do with reducing heart disease—and definitely nothing to do with extending life.

Over the years, we both learned from Mary Enig, Ph.D., a leading lipid biochemist, that there was little to fear from saturated fats in the diet. The real fat felon in the diet, she correctly identified, is trans fat, a processed unsaturated fat that may be the most potent macronutrient for raising heart-disease risk. Commonly found in fried and snack foods, baked goods and frozen dinners, trans fats are highly inflammatory, and it is inflammation that is the key cause of heart disease.

Gaining Clarity on Cholesterol Myths

Our book is a search for the truth, and I am confident that we found it. We cite major scientific research that is routinely ignored by the medical community, such as a recent study showing that almost half of nearly 140,000 patients admitted to hospitals for heart disease had LDL cholesterol levels under 100 mg/dL (the current mainstream therapeutic target for LDL).

You would think such a result would cause some reflection. It didn’t. Instead, the researchers concluded that maybe an even lower target is needed. Another inconvenient fact supported by research is that a cholesterol level of 160 mg/dL or less has been linked to depression, aggression, cerebral hemorrhages and loss of sex drive!

Yet another fact lost on the multitude of mainstream doctors prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs is that only a tiny minority of patients live longer by taking such medications. We quote one of the world’s top cholesterol myths debunkers, Uffe Ravnskov, M.D., Ph.D.: “People with high cholesterol live the longest. This statement seems so incredible that it takes a long time to clear one’s brainwashed mind to fully understand its importance.”

Common Cholesterol Myths

In our myth-busting book you will learn many things your doctor will likely never tell you about cholesterol, such as:

  • The theory that fat and cholesterol cause heart disease became widely accepted despite much evidence to the contrary.

  • Today’s widely held belief that the best diet for preventing heart disease is low in saturated fat and cholesterol is not supported by available evidence from clinical trials.

  • The adoption of the cholesterol myths by mainstream organizations and the government had a strong political lobbying component to it.

  • The concept of “good” and “bad” cholesterol is outdated. It is far more important to know whether you have a dominating pattern of small, dense, inflammatory cholesterol particles than to know your total amount of LDLs. Your total cholesterol and LDL levels simply don’t predict heart disease very well.

  • Fat does raise LDL cholesterol, but it increases the big, fluffy, harmless particles and reduces the small, dense inflammatory LDLs that actually contribute to heart disease.

  • The number one dietary contributor to heart disease is sugar, a far greater danger to your heart than fat. But the sugar industry has suppressed damaging reports for years, similar to the earlier behavior of Big Tobacco. The fact is that sugar contributes to inflammation in the artery walls. Reduce or eliminate sugar and processed carbs in your diet and you knock down triglycerides.High triglycerides are far more of a danger for heart disease than high cholesterol.

  • The benefits of statin drugs have been widely exaggerated, and any positive effect of these drugs has to do with their anti-inflammatory powers and absolutely nothing to do with their ability to lower cholesterol. Moreover, their side effects are grossly underreported. They should not be prescribed to the elderly, the vast majority of women and never to children. The only people who may benefit from statins are middle-aged men with coronary artery disease.

You can buy The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Your Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease and the Statin-Free Plan That Will from www.amazon.com and other online retailers.

Enjoy What You've Just Read?

Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides from Dr. Sinatra!