Is all cholesterol really bad? The very word has received a bad rap from the media for years. Nearly anyone who has a newspaper for the past thirty years can tell you that being diagnosed with high cholesterol feels like walking around with a time bomb ticking in the chest. The simple and more superficial thing to do then is to blame cholesterol for clogged arteries , which leads to heart disease and, ultimately death. What is the deeper meaning?
Further research leads scientists to discover that cholesterol in and of itself is not toxic in any way, shape, or form. It is an essential component in the functioning of a healthy human body. We now know that almost 75 percent of the cholesterol in the blood is produced by the liver, while only 25 percent is derived from foods. If cholesterol is just an innocent bystander, what is to blame?
According to a study by Dr. C. B. Taylor published in the American Journal of Nutrition (1979), it is not pure cholesterol that creates artery-clogging plaque, but rather the free radicals produced by the oxidation of cholesterol. Oxidized cholesterol from food sources that have been fried, smoked, cured, or aged are plaque producing. Best-selling author Ann Louise Gittleman, one of the foremost nutritionists in the United States, explains this further “ The process of oxidation is what makes the LDL component of cholesterol so harmful. Oxidation is a process in which fats and oils, left exposed or subjected to heat sources, interact with oxygen and create unstable atoms known as free radicals, which alter cell membranes.” Gittleman further notes “While oxidation is a function of an oil’s exposure to oxygen, heat can also play a major role in accelerating the process… Heated oils oxidize very rapidly. At frying temperatures (300 + degrees) polyunsaturates oxidize almost immediately and become dangerous transfats.”
Another groundbreaking study, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, found that a diet high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene could help prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and halt the process of plaque buildup in arterial walls. If your blood fats are high, you simply increase the nutrients that metabolize fats (vitamin C, E , beta-carotene, vitamin B complex, magnesium, lecithin, selenium). These antioxidants, along with your body’s own enzymes, and exercise, combat the progress of free radical damage.