The Great Cholesterol Myth

Why you should be skeptical of cholesterol as an indicator of heart disease.

Why you should be skeptical of cholesterol as an indicator of heart disease.

The two of us came together to write this book because we believe that you have been completely misled, misinformed, and in some cases, directly lied to about cholesterol. We believe that a weird admixture of misinformation, scientifically questionable studies, corporate greed, and deceptive marketing has conspired to create one of the most indestructible and damaging myths in medical history: that cholesterol causes heart disease. The millions of marketing dollars spent on perpetuating this myth have successfully kept us focused on a relatively minor character in the heart disease story, and created a market for cholesterol-lowering drugs worth more than $30 billion a year.

The real tragedy is that by putting all of our attention on cholesterol, we’ve virtually ignored the real causes of heart disease: inflammation, oxidation, sugar, and stress. In fact, as you’ll learn in this book, cholesterol numbers are a pretty poor predictor of heart disease; more than half the people hospitalized with heart attacks have perfectly normal cholesterol levels, and about half the people with elevated cholesterol levels have perfectly normal, healthy tickers. Many of the general dietary guidelines accepted and promoted by the government and by major health organizations such as the American Heart Association are either directly or indirectly related to cholesterol phobia. These standard guidelines warn us to limit the amount of cholesterol we eat, despite the fact that for at least 95 percent of the population, cholesterol in the diet has virtually no effect on cholesterol in the blood. These guidelines warn us of the dangers of saturated fat, despite the fact that the relationship between saturated fat in the diet and heart disease has never been convincingly demonstrated, and despite the fact that research shows that replacing saturated fat in the diet with carbohydrates actually increases the risk for heart disease.

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Both of us became skeptical of the cholesterol theory at different points in our careers, traveling different pathways to arrive at the same conclusion: Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. We also believe that, unlike trans fat, for example, saturated fat is not the dietary equivalent of Satan’s spawn (and we’ll show you why). Finally, and most important, we strongly believe that our national obsession with lowering cholesterol has come at a considerable price. Cholesterolmania has caused us to focus all our energy around a fairly innocuous molecule with a marginal relationship to heart disease, while ignoring the real causes of heart disease. We’re each going to tell you in our own words how we became cholesterol skeptics and why we fervently believe the information contained in this book could save your life.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

• Cholesterol is a minor player in heart disease.

• Cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart attacks.

• Half the people with heart disease have normal cholesterol.

• Half the people with elevated cholesterol have healthy hearts.

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Dr. Jonny Bowden and Dr. Stephen Sinatra
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Related Topics: Cholesterol, Heart Disease

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