What is cholesterol?

There is no topic that has been more the subject of controversy, manipulation, fear and scandal than cholesterol. We all have heard about it, bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, high cholesterol, low cholesterol, cholesterol free, cholesterol is good, cholesterol is bad. Hopefully, we can begin to dissipate the clouds of misinformation that have lingered for so long.

But what is cholesterol exactly?  From the ancient greek ‘chole’ meaning bile and ‘stereos’ meaning solid, simply put, cholesterol is a fat. Dr. Joel Wallach describes it as: “a member of a large group of fats known as sterols“. While similar sterols are found in plants, cholesterol is only found in animal tissue. It is literally the difference between being a vegetable and being a human being. The fact is that cholesterol is essential to life and it is made by the body. According to Dr Wallach, it is an ‘essential part of the structure of cell walls, brain and spinal cord’ .

So where does all the ‘cholesterol is bad” idea come from? To answer this question let’s look at a  widely accepted medical explanation on cholesterol:

What Makes LDL Cholesterol Bad? Here’s how high amounts of LDL cholesterol lead to plaque growth and atherosclerosis. Some LDL cholesterol tends to deposit in the walls of arteries…white blood cells convert the LDL to a toxic (oxidized) form. More white blood cells and other cells migrate to the area, creating steady low-grade inflammation in the artery wall. Over time, more LDL cholesterol and cells collect in the area. The process creates a bump in the artery wall called a plaque. Plaque is made of cholesterol, the body’s cells, and debris. The process continues, growing the plaque and slowly blocking the artery. An even greater danger than slow blockage is a sudden rupture of the surface of the plaque. A blood clot can form on the ruptured area. And that can lead to a heart attack”

To the uninformed, this might sound fairly logical…and scary. Let’s break it down: “Cholesterol tends to  deposit in the arterial walls creating a bump called plaque” This widely accepted medical explanation doesn’t specify why cholesterol deposits may happen in the first place. It does not mention proteins, other fats and minerals are present in the plaque deposits as well, it just singles out cholesterol. It would be fair to look for alternative explanations for why this is happening in the body. Dr. Thomas E Levy in his book “Stop America’s #1 killer!” explains: “Vessel walls physically thicken over areas that had been depleted of collagen, in the form of atherosclerotic plaque. This thickening is the body’s way of focally fortifying the blood vessel wall in the absence of normal collagen formation, as the eventual consequence of vitamin C deficiency in that specific location…Advanced lesions known as fibrous plaques, can subsequently become sites of hemorrhage, complete blood vessel blockage and/or calcification”.

According to Dr. Levy then, the blood vessels, like any other connective tissue, maintain their elasticity with vitamin C. On the contrary, when they are defficient in vitamin C , they become weakened. Cholesterol travels to the vessel in an attempt to reinforce the area. This points to an important issue: vitamin c deficiency. Who could be a candidate for being defficient in vitamin C?, could it be those that follow the RDA (ridiculous deprivation allowance) for vitamin C which is less than 1 gram? ( It might interest you to know that a rat makes 10 grams of vitamin C every day, even more when they are stressed) It looks like we need to pay more attention to why the blood vessel becomes weak in the first place and that would help us keep cholesterol from having to patch up the weakened blood vessel and creating a thickening on the artery.

In this sense, we can see that one of the jobs of cholesterol in the body is being an antioxidant in cases of antioxidant deficiency. Udo Erasmus, in his book “Fats that heal, fats that kill” says cholesterol can act like an antioxidant when our level of mineral and vitamin antioxidants is low, and adds ” High levels of oxidized cholesterol are found in low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) transport vehicles when our body lacks food-borne antioxidants. Some of these antioxidants like vitamin C, E, B3 and carotene as well as selenium, sulphur, and zinc/copper, can lower cholesterol” He also quotes Dr. Rath and Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner, known for turning the orthodox cholesterol dogma on its head with their simple assertion that “thickening arteries and casdiovascular disease revolve primarily around lack of vitamin C”

Again, it seems that antioxidants like vitamin C are very important both to prevent atherosclerosis in the first place and to lower cholesterol. “Lack of vitamin C, he says, results in weakened tissues…Tissue like arteries which are constantly under pressure require vitamin C to stay resilient…Lack of vitamin C results in weakened arteries and bleeding into tissue spaces”.

To learn more about ways to lower cholesterol naturally please join in next week.

Thanks for reading.

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