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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Cholesterol, Friend Not Foe

Jan 29, 2015 08:52PM
by Dr. Isabel Sharkar

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is critical for building cell membranes and is a naturally occurring product found in the body—made by the liver. Cholesterol is the parent molecule for major hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. It is critical to the immune system and the brain. The body naturally produces three to four times more cholesterol than you eat. When you eat little cholesterol, the production of cholesterol by your body increases, and decreases when you eat a lot.

Saturated fats help cholesterol function as well as aid in the conversion of vitamin A and mineral absorption like calcium, provide satiety, carry fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, act as an antiviral agent and help to prevent cancer. Two major studies have recently confirmed that there is absolutely no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.

The cholesterol theory is in part due to the Framingham Heart study from the early 1950s, which included a dietary analyses of 6000 individuals who were questioned in detail about their eating habits. Upon further investigation of this study, no connection was found between the composition of the food and the cholesterol level of the blood. Actually, the more cholesterol and saturated fat people ate, the lower their cholesterol levels and the longer they lived. Unfortunately, thanks to this study, statins are now the second most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S.

What we are told about cholesterol is also based on The Seven Countries Study performed in 1953 by Dr. Ancel Keys, which first started with 22 countries, of which only seven supported his views. The entire cholesterol theory to cut out butter, red meat, animal fats, eggs and dairy from our diets is false. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, “If all 22 countries had been analyzed, there would have been no correlation found whatsoever.” In the past 30 years, Americans have dropped the proportion of energy intake from fat from 40 percent to 30 percent, yet obesity has rocketed. Sugar is the biggest culprit.

To protect your heart and health, eliminate all processed foods, gluten, GMO, artificial sweeteners and refined sugar. Eat organic, increase the amount of fresh vegetables and eat naturally fermented foods to optimize gut bacteria. Limit fructose intake to less than 25gm per day from all sources and avoid trans fats and statin drugs.

A Mediterranean diet is three times more effective at reducing cardiovascular deaths as statins. Drink plenty of natural spring water and incorporate healthy fats like avocados, unpasteurized raw butter, ghee butter, coconut oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, nuts and free-range organic eggs in your diet. Most importantly, if you want to avoid heart disease reduce your stress levels.

Dr. Isabel Sharkar, ND, is a licensed naturopathic physician and co-owner of Indigo Integrative Health Clinic in Georgetown. For more information, call 202-298-9131 or visit


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