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Cholesterol Has Benefits, Too

February 02, 2008 | 52,310 views
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cholesterol, milk, eggs, cheese, butterCholesterol may not be all bad, and may in fact have some benefits, according to a new study from researchers at Texas A&M University.

The study involved 55 men and women between the ages of 60 and 69 who exercised three days a week for 12 weeks.

A significant association was found between dietary cholesterol and change in strength. It was found that lower cholesterol levels reduced muscle gain that occurred with exercise, while those with higher cholesterol intake also had the highest gains in muscle strength.

“Our findings show that the restricting of cholesterol -- while in the process of exercising -- appears to affect building muscle mass in a negative manner,” the researchers said.

They suggested that the effect may be due to cholesterol’s role in the inflammation process. More cholesterol in your blood may lead to a greater inflammatory response that is useful for building muscles.

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I have significant personal experience with low cholesterol. I bought into the low-fat myth in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and with my diet and long-distance running actually got my cholesterol level down to 75 without taking any drugs.

At the time it seemed to be a good thing -- but now I know it was a prescription for disaster and was likely one of the major reasons I lost my hair.

The fact that your body naturally makes some cholesterol, and uses it for producing cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D, and the bile acids that help you digest fats, among many other things, it is a major clue that cholesterol is necessary and beneficial for your health.

Your body requires cholesterol to survive, which is why it produces it. So please don’t let anyone tell you that cholesterol is completely bad for you.

And while many people worry that their cholesterol is too high, few give a thought to the damage that can result if your cholesterol is too low. When it comes to cholesterol, lower is not always better.

If your cholesterol dips too low, you will increase your risk of:
Where do Sugars and Grains Fit In?

About 75 percent of your blood cholesterol is made by your body. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat.

Certain foods that contain cholesterol will throw your body off balance, while others will actually push it toward homeostasis.

One of the most important things I advise people looking to lower their cholesterol to do is to reduce, or eliminate, sugars and grains from their diet.

What do sugar and grain have to do with cholesterol and your heart?

Eating too much sugar and refined grains is the primary cause of high triglycerides, and restricting sugar and grains seems to normalize triglyceride levels in most everyone who tries it.

Triglycerides, like cholesterol, belong to the lipid family. They’re a major source of energy for your body, and are either obtained from your diet or produced in your liver.

When your body has more triglycerides than it can use, the excess triglycerides end up being transported to fat cells (rather than being used by your body for energy). If your triglyceride levels remain elevated it can lead to atherosclerosis and heart damage.

In other words, high triglycerides are an incredibly potent risk factor for heart disease. In combination, high triglycerides and low HDL levels are an even bigger risk; this ratio is even more important to your heart health than the standard good vs. bad cholesterol ratio.

In fact, one study found that people with the highest ratio of triglycerides to HDL had 16 times the risk of heart attack as those with the lowest ratio of triglycerides to HDL.

So while you strive to keep your HDL cholesterol levels up, you’ll want to decrease your triglycerides. How? You can increase your HDL levels by exercising and getting plenty of omega-3 fats like those from krill oil. Triglycerides are easily decreased by exercising and avoiding grains and sugars in your diet.

The “Healthy” Cholesterol Guidelines Have Never Been Proven

It is also worth mentioning, while we’re on the subject of cholesterol, that the cholesterol levels the experts tout as those you must reach to be healthy have never been proven to be healthy.

So rather than focusing on how to get your cholesterol levels lower, focus on eating the right foods for your nutritional type while avoiding sugar and grains. (And by all means do not get caught up in the hype that you need to take dangerous statin cholesterol-lowering drugs!)

Add to your new healthy diet some regular exercise, and your body should be able to keep its cholesterol levels where they should be, naturally.

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