WHAT ABOUT CHOLESTEROL?
Many doctors use cholesterol levels as a primary indicator
of health. Let's look at why your
cholesterol levels are pretty much meaningless.
First, let's consider what cholesterol is and what it does.
As we discuss in more detail in Chapter 3,
there are two primary fuel Sources for the body:
Free fatty acids (FFA) and, to a lesser extent, ketones made
Glucose can travel around the bloodstream on its own.
However, neither cholesterol nor
triglycerides can circulate in the blood without a carrier.
Your body packages cholesterol and
triglycerides in a carrier (think of a boat) called a low-density
lipoprotein, or LDL. In general, the larger
the LDL particle, the more triglyceride it contains.
As we've discussed, fat flux is a process in which the body
pulls fat from fat stores. Leftover fat not
burned by your muscles or other tissues is returned to the
liver to be packaged into very-low-density
lipoprotein (VLDL) particles; those VLDL particles are then
sent back to the fat cells for storage. The
amount of LDL (and total cholesterol) can be greatly
influenced by the amount of fat in your diet. Your
LDL levels will go down if you are keto-adapted
because in that case fat is your primary fuel, and you
are eating a lot fat. When your diet consists of adequate
fat, your LDL level drops because not as
much fuel needs to be pulled from the fat cells.
Alternatively, if you are in an energy deficit and eating
fewer calories than your body needs, your LDL level goes up
as your body pulls more fat from storage to use for fuel.
is an engineer who has experimented with manipulating his
cholesterol numbers via
his diet. In his experiments, he eats a low
diet and varies only the amount of
fat he consumes. First he eats lower fat (1,000 total
calories) and measures his cholesterol; then for
three days he eats a great deal of fat (4,000 or more total
calories) and measures his cholesterol again.
Feldman has been able to take his small LDL--P
(small LDL particle number)-which
professionals consider to be the factor most indicative of
coronary artery disease risk-from
almost 1,000 (high risk) to below 90 (very low risk). He did
this in just three days by doing the opposite of
what you would think would be the healthy approach (based on
conventional nutritional wisdom). When his LDL--P
was 1,000, he was eating little fat and about 1,000 total
calories. When his LDL--P
90, he was eating upward of 350 grams of fat a day.
We could spend a whole chapter discussing the flawed
correlation between cholesterol and
coronary artery disease. Instead, let's look at a couple of
highlights before we get into what you
should really be looking at-a
coronary artery calcium (CAC) test.
LDL cholesterol is the body's repair mechanism, and it
facilitates fuel transportation. Coronary artery disease
occurs when an LDL particle gets lodged in a lesion of the
artery wall and releases its cholesterol to start repairing
the lesion. The cholesterol develops into a plaque that
seals up the lesion. However, over time, this plaque can
block the artery and cause a heart attack. When the body
produces this plaque, it's doing exactly what it should do;
this process isn't flawed, and it's not a genetic mistake.
If you had a hole in a wall of your house, what would you
do? You would cover the hole with spackle. That is exactly
what your body is doing. If it didn't, the lesion could
burst and kill you.
However, the lesion wasn't caused by the cholesterol. The
cholesterol is like a firefighter coming to put out a fire;
the firefighter didn't start the fire. Inflammation caused
the lesion, and cholesterol patched it. The goal is
preventing future fires (addressing the root cause of
inflammation) rather than reducing the number of
Cholesterol also performs many vital roles in the body.
Following are some of the benefits of saturated fat and