Cholesterol Is Not A Good Indicator Of Heart Disease

May 28, 2010


If I ask you to say one word that reminds you of heart disease, chances are you’re going to say cholesterol. It has been entrenched in our brains that consuming dietary cholesterol will result in a higher cholesterol level. I’ve done a lot of research lately on this topic and what I’m about to say may shock some of you. Cholesterol is not a good indicator of heart disease and you need cholesterol in your diet to be healthy.

Here’s what got me thinking about all this. Last year I heard the news that drug companies are looking to start giving children cholesterol lowering medication because some of these children have high cholesterol. I immediately felt there was something wrong with this scenario. The more I research the more I realized that cholesterol is really not a good indicator of heart health and in fact total LDL (bad cholesterol wasn’t a good one either) The best predictor of heart disease is actually your ratio of HDL (good cholesterol) To total triglyceride numbers. In adults, the triglyceride/HDL-“good” cholesterol ratio should be below 2 (just divide your triglycerides level by your HDL). Or more precisely, the triglyceride/HDL ratio:

2 or less is considered ideal

4 – high

6 – much too high

And, since HDL (high density lipoprotein) is protective against heart disease, the lower the ratio, the better.

In other words, the lower your triglycerides, or the higher your HDL, the smaller this ratio becomes.

What about the LDL’s? The LDL has more than one particle – Large and fluffy (that cause no damage) and small particle LDL’s (the bad one’s). So giving you a total score of your LDL’s without knowing if they are big or small particles is deceiving.

The study that really started this whole “cholesterol is bad” was called the 7 country study where the researcher Ancel Keys only chose the countries that he wanted to prove his hypothesis. The reality was when you added in all countries and their dietary habits his hypothesis didn’t make any sense. I would urge all of you to read the book Cholesterol myth by Uff Rasinov. I must warn you it’s an incredibly dry read but if you’re a science junkie like me you will love it.

But the key point here is don’t rely on your total cholesterol number as an indicator for heart health and find out what your HDL to triglyceride ratio is.


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