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Health Benefits of Fat & Cholesterol

May 11, 2014


On, Dr. Mercola speaks with Dr. Kummerow (a prominent medical researcher nearing 100 years old) about the health benefits of cholesterol and saturated fat. But hasn’t mainstream medicine been telling us the opposite for decades? Beyond Organic comes out in support of this notion, and here’s why.

Our bodies need a certain amount of saturated fat, which we associate with cholesterol. What few people realize is that cholesterol is so important that it’s produced by our liver. In fact, dietary cholesterol (what you get from food) may not necessarily be the significant source of your cholesterol levels. Your body regulates cholesterol levels naturally. It’s metabolized in different parts of our body such as the brain. It also protects the arteries from inflammation by formation of arterial plaque or calcifications. These calcifications protect us from substances that “burn” the arterial lining. It’s caused by excess sugar and by the artificial ingredients found in low quality foods. Plaques can also be caused by excess calcium intake, which can be easily remedied with the proper intake of vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium to help assimilate the calcium into our bones.

However, over time, arterial plaques can become detrimental and restrict blood flow. It’s critical that the source of inflammation is reduced and that we feed our bodies with adequate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium to break down the plaques (both of which can be accomplished with a healthy diet). This would explain why statins, the primary drug prescribed for lowering cholesterol, has not been shown to reduce risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease. It reduces cholesterol, but not the underlying inflammation that’s causing a decline in the integrity of the arteries.

We tend to lump all fats together and limit our intake as much as possible. First of all, it’s been shown that a diet with low carbs has a greater effect on reducing body fat (for example: paleo diet or ketogenic diet). Additionally, there are healthy fats our bodies need. How much fat is the right amount? That’s a topic of much debate, and it varies from diet to diet. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Saturated Fats: The USDA would tell you no more than 10% of your caloric intake should be from saturated fat. People have varying needs based on their genetics, and some thrive on higher saturated fat. Vegetarians can get saturated fats from coconuts and avocados.
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): The omega-3 to omega-6 intake ratio should ideally be no more than 1:4. You can get omega-3 from fish or flax seed oil, and 3 grams/day is a good daily target for maintaining strong HDL (good cholesterol). Sources for omega-6 include safflower, sunflower, and sesame oil.
  • Monounsaturated Fats: This fat should make up the bulk of your fat intake. Our bodies are partly made up of monounsaturated fats. It's no wonder that olive oil and nuts which are high in this fat are so beneficial to our health.
  • Trans Fats: Avoid this. Any packaged food that contains hydrogenated oils is a sure sign it has trans fats.

Fiber is also very beneficial to managing triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). Make sure you’re eating plenty of it.

The heart supports the health of all other organs in the body, including the brain. So if you do nothing else … please adopt a heart-healthy diet and exercise. If you take care of your heart and cardiovascular health, everything else will follow.

For more information on healthy fats, visit our section on organic-oils.html.