LIE #2: EATING CHOLESTEROL RAISES YOUR CHOLESTEROL
How many of us have opted for egg whites at breakfast because we’re told that the dreaded “C” word is in the yokes? It’s been ingrained in our brains that eating cholesterol raises cholesterol. On top of that, we’ve been warned that consuming too much cholesterol-rich food leads to heart disease and other significant health problems. This mainstream myth has resulted in healthy foods such as whole eggs, shellfish and saturated fats (like animal fats and coconut oil) being villainized and taken off the table. However, when these advantageous foods are tossed out, we don’t get to reap the health benefits they provide.
FACT: Our bodies actually make cholesterol because we need it — a whopping 75% is produced by our livers. Very little cholesterol found in our bodies is from the eggs, meat, or shellfish we consume. In fact, even if you never touched any of these foods, you could still have high cholesterol simply because that’s just the way your body is. Countless studies have shown that dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect blood cholesterol levels or raise the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
Cholesterol gets such a bad rap, that many people have never heard how important it is. It’s a compound that is vital in helping our bodies produce hormones (such as estrogen, testosterone, and cortisone), cell membranes, vitamin D, and bile acids that aid in digesting fat. It also plays an important role in our neurological functions and helps us to form memories.
Benefits of cholesterol:
- Builds cell membranes
- Produces and balances hormones (including the ones that manage stress levels!)
- Helps our metabolisms work efficiently
- Increases brain function and development
- Levels moods by stabilizing neurotransmitters
- Produces vitamin D
- Produces bile acids that help digest fast and absorb nutrients
- Maintains intestinal wall
- Critical to repair damaged cells
So why have we been taught that cholesterol is bad and we should avoid eating it at all costs? Well, it’s based on old science (from half a century ago) and a desperate desire to stop cardiovascular disease. Although I applaud the desire, it’s time to look at the real culprit: inflammation. Yes, cholesterol builds up in the arteries and can cause blockages but the build up is due to inflammation.
If there is construction on the highway and the road narrows, eventually there will be a slow down of cars, yes? And maybe even a collision or two due to all the congestion. Cholesterol is like the cars on the road, minding their own business. It’s the construction that causes the pile up, not the cars.
Did you know that most heart attacks actually occur in people with low cholesterol? Not only is cholesterol a natural and vital substance in our bodies, but it’s necessary to keep our bodies healthy. Lowering one’s cholesterol too much can be even more dangerous than having high cholesterol. So stop eating foods that cause inflammation and get back to eating those egg yolks for breakfast!
If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, do your homework. I highly recommend Jimmy Moore’s book: Cholesterol Clarity where he interviews several doctors and experts in the field.
What cholesterol-rich foods have you been told to stay away from? Any other Big Fat Lies you want exposed? Share in the comments below!
It’s taken two years to sit down and write this post. Two years of very important and legitimate excuses – which just seem too many and too lame to go into now.
What was the real reason? Fear. Fear of not doing it right. Fear of looking bad. Fear of feeling stupid. Fear of not knowing what I was to write about or who I was to write for. Fear of criticism. Fear of rejection. Fear of finding out I had nothing of consequence to share. Fear of not having enough. Fear of not being enough.
My fear kept me frozen. Not in every area of my life – that’s why it was so illusive. I didn’t know I was afraid. I was too busy with my business and doing my best to make a difference every day in the lives of my clients and family. In fact, the busier I was, the easier it was for me to justify not writing this post.
Even now I can feel the tug of my to-do list, my email, my bed, and of course my old faithful friend, food. I’m not actually hungry but since when did that matter? Food has always been there when I needed a distraction or comfort.
Food As Pacifier
Growing up, food seemed to be a limited resource. Portions were divided equally and if one person were to get more, it meant another would get less. And that was okay with me — as long as I was one getting more. Our family of six wasn’t exactly poor, but my folks worked hard to stretch the dollar to provide what we needed.
My dad liked to have dessert after dinner and it was something us kids grew up expecting. Often it was simply canned fruit or jello but sometimes it was one of my mom’s special recipes. She was an amazing cook and could whip up cakes and squares and the best dutch treats you could ever eat.
There always seemed to be plenty of flour and sugar in the cupboard, and wanting to be like my mom, I took to baking at an early age. I loved to make what we called, Wacky Cake – not only did it taste good but it took such few ingredients: flour, sugar, powered chocolate, oil, baking soda and vinegar. (I’d share the recipe but it’s not an addiction you want to take on, at any age).
Whenever I felt lonely, or bored, or sad, or happy (or anything), it was a good time for food. If it wasn’t Wacky Cake, it was rice crisp squares or cookies or maybe even a pie – and I got positive recognition for it from my family, which was an added bonus. (If I shared, that is.)
Making food and hoarding food became a consistent and successful coping mechanism for me. I say ‘successful’ because it did the job I asked of it: “Make me feel better” or sometimes, “Make me feel nothing”.
However, imagine the horror when my favorite Life Management Strategy started producing unfavorable side effects. As a teenager, I started to put on weight. A lot of it. Up until then, I had been tall and skinny regardless of what I ate.
The Devil In the Cookies
Gaining weight was not cool. I had watched my mom struggle with her weight for years and had learned that excess body fat was a very bad, albeit inevitable, condition. I dieted and did everything I could think of to get myself to lose weight.
I remember a time at church camp when a big plate of cookies was put out on the table. They were calling my name. Actually, they were screaming my name. I decided that this was bad—and if the cookies were bad, my young logic deduced that they were evil. The Devil was in those cookies and if I ate one, I would have the Devil in me. Now understand, I thought that this idea would help me not eat the cookies. It didn’t. I ate those cookies that day and seeded the belief that I was actually a bad person.
In my mind, I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough. I collected evidence that I wasn’t lovable and it was my own fault. The conundrum was that food was my solace and my enemy—I ate to comfort myself and eventually had to purge to punish myself. The proverbial Catch 22.
The Long Road Home
Yes, there were many dark days. Healing was process that came from a lot of trial and error and yet, I can see nothing but the best that has come from this struggle. I get it. I’ve been there and I can help throw a life preserver to others who need it. Such an honor.
I am enough. You are enough. With this information, now what?!! What can we imagine for our body, our health… our life? It’s all ours to create, daily.
I believe that the body is a metaphor. It is an outside manifestation of what is going on inside. It is from this premise that I work on fitness from the inside out.
Having a great body is awesome. (Let’s do this!)
Having excellent health is awesomer. (Let’s do this too!)
Having a life of passion and purpose is awesomest. (Okay, let’s do it all!)
I want you to have the awesomest life. Now you don’t have to have an awesome body to experience a life of passion and purpose but why not express on the outside all the joy that is within?!
Welcome to my blog — my playground to work my process and share it with you as authentically as I can. Expect lots of information and inspiration and a few silly laughs thrown in for good measure. I appreciate your questions, comments and shares – feel free to reach out and let me know how I can serve you best.
Very Truly Yours,