Everything tastes better cooked in butter!!!… But people limit fat because the idea of fat, especially saturated fat, makes people think of clogged arteries and heart disease.  Restricting dietary fat intake was first recognized and accredited by Dr. Ancel Keys.  In the 1950’s he used data from six countries that revealed that populations who ate the most fat had the highest amount of heart disease.  His theory, called “The Cholesterol Theory” proposed that higher cholesterol levels in the blood caused the fat to stick to the arterial walls.  Flaws in Dr. Keys research were later revealed  including that Dr. Keys had data from 22 countries, but he only used six in his theory; the six that supported his hypothesis.  Unfortunately, by the time these flaws were seen, the medical community and the country had already accepted Dr. Keys’ theory and started implementing low fat diets.

Over the past 50 years, research has not proven the cholesterol theory.  In fact, decreasing fat has shown to be harmful over the long term.  In the 1970s a study done in Finland revealed that over a 5 year span following a low fat, low cholesterol diet showed that the blood cholesterol levels were lowered.  These people successfully lowered their cholesterol numbers, however a follow up study done in 1991 on these individuals revealed that those who continued to eat a low fat, low cholesterol diet increased their risk of heart disease by 50% as opposed to those who ate a higher fat diet.

The truth about cholesterol is that it is essential in our body.  Our body uses fat and cholesterol  in cell membranes.  Every cell in our body is surrounded by at least 20% cholesterol and higher percentages of cholesterol is found in nerve and brain cells.   Cholesterol is also used for cell repair and creation of new cells.  It is the precursor to every hormone in our body including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.  Cholesterol and other lipids are used to transfer fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  It is necessary in the production of bile (yes fat helps your digest fat).  Cholesterol is even important for the immune system by helping to neutralize toxins.

Health sources of cholesterol include:

  • Eggs (Egg Yolks)
  • Liver
  • Fish & Fish Oil
  • Shellfish (Lobster, Shrimp, Crab)
  • Red Meat (Bison, Elk, Beef)
  • Dairy Products (Butter, Milk, Cheese, Yogurt)

References:

Enig, Mary, Ph.D. “Know Your Fats.” 2000. Maryland. Bethesda Press.

Fallon, Sally. Mary Enig, Ph.D.  “Nourishing Traditions.” 2001. New Trends Publishing, Inc.

Fife, Bruce, N.D. “Stop Alzheimer’s Now!” 2011. Colorado. Piccadilly Books. Ltd.