A little while back, in the year 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee which is a body that instructs the American population how and what to eat, gave a report which said that “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol”. The conclusion therefore was that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for over consumption.
What on earth is this saying? It seems like they are saying you can eat as much cholesterol as you want because it will not have any effect on your blood cholesterol level. But is that a fact? Is Cholesterol in the Diet Dangerous, or can we eat all the egg and cheese and meat that our hearts desire? The truth of the matter is that lots of persons were happy to hear this and they jumped on the bandwagon of eating as many eggs and meat as they wanted. It is so easy to get carried away on the wrong path when we hear the results of this or that study without understanding what the study is all about.
Let’s take a look at cholesterol.
What really is it?
Cholesterol is a very important molecule that serves many functions in the body.
- It is an important part of a cell membrane and helps maintain the fluidity of the cell membrane.
- It is a raw material for building hormones.
- Cholesterol makes vitamin D (as a result of the action of sunlight on the cholesterol in the skin)
Cholesterol in the diet
If cholesterol is so important in the body then we should be making sure that we are ingesting it regularly in our diet, shouldn’t we?
The answer is no.
The body makes its own cholesterol. That’s right. All the cholesterol we need is made by our bodies and there is absolutely no need to have it in our diets.
The sad thing is that the Western diet is extremely high in cholesterol. This results in atherosclerosis, which further results in strokes and heart attacks. Nowadays it is a well-known fact that increase in cholesterol levels in the blood results in an increased risk of coronary heart disease. I am sure you must have heard that before. If that is the case, then we should be very wary of adding to the cholesterol levels in our blood. We certainly don’t want to develop all those diseases linked to high cholesterol.
So where does cholesterol come from?
As we said before, the body makes it. Cholesterol is produced in animal cells especially in the liver cells and the body produces approximately 1 gram per day. This one gram is all the body needs to carry out its functions so there is no need to add another 200 or 300 mg or more, of cholesterol through the diet.
Approximately 50% of the cholesterol that is ingested is absorbed into the upper part of the small intestine. Chylomicrons then escort the cholesterol into the circulatory system. To put it simply the cholesterol that you take into your diet is absorbed into the body and goes into the blood. If you are taking in high levels of dietary cholesterol, it will significantly affect your level of serum cholesterol.
Now that is quite serious! We definitely need to be careful of what we eat. I’m sure you don’t want to increase your risk of coronary disease by eating high cholesterol foods. Well guess what? Cholesterol is found only in animal products such as eggs, dairy and meat, so if you want to reduce your cholesterol intake or eliminate it completely, you need to eat a plant-based diet.
Check out the cholesterol (and fat) content in these foods
Two large eggs – 362 mg cholesterol and 3.1 g saturated fat
Chicken with skin (100 grams) – 88 mg cholesterol and 3.8 g saturated fat
Lean Roast beef (100 grams) – 83 mg cholesterol and 3.4 g saturated fat
Chinook salmon (100 grams) – 85 mg cholesterol 3.2 g saturated fat
Cheddar cheese (2 oz) – 58 mg cholesterol 11 g saturated fat
Now compare these plant products and you will see a dramatic difference
Black beans (100 grams) – 0 cholesterol and 0.1 g saturated fat
Brown rice (100 grams) – 0 cholesterol and 0.2 g saturated fat
Broccoli (100 grams) – 0 cholesterol and 0.1 g saturated fat
Sweet potato (100 grams) – 0 cholesterol and 0.04 g saturated fat
Even though the results are so starkly different, there are some persons who will not give up the unhealthy food for the healthy plant-based diet. They are willing to eat whatever and whenever and depend on pharmaceutical drugs to solve their problems.
Yes the statins will lower your blood cholesterol but they come with side effects such as;
increase blood glucose
Some people have also been known to lose their memory when they take these drugs.
The Better Way
Isn’t it better, as Hippocrates puts it, to let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food?
We know that the body produces all the cholesterol it needs to function properly and we also know that cholesterol in the diet (which is only found in animal products) enters the blood stream and increases the serum levels.
We know that increased levels of cholesterol in the blood over time causes a build up of plaque which can eventually result in a stroke or a heart attack.
We know that eating a plant based diet will not add any cholesterol to the blood because plants have zero cholesterol.
Can you see which is the better way to health?
A plant-based diet does not only have positive effects on cholesterol levels but is beneficial for just about every lifestyle illnesses that you can suffer from. The health benefits are many. It reduces the risk, controls or even reverses heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. It results in success for persons on weight loss programmes.
We have an option. Do we want to take the chance of the ill effects of cholesterol in the diet or do we want to adopt a healthy plant based diet which results in good overall health. The choice is ours to make.
Do you think this article is beneficial. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.