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Cholesterol, a substance that was linked for decades to heart attack and cardiovascular disease is not as bad as we once thought, nor the cause of it, like one might think. There is a lot of myth around this organic molecule vital for the body’s neurological functioning, vitamin D production, hormonal biosynthesis and the creation of bile acid. Just the act of thinking or naming cholesterol is associated in our minds with egg yolk, fried food or red meat. However, cholesterol is neither good nor bad; it is just an important molecule for a healthy body function.
According to Dr. Juan Remos, a physician and expert in anti-aging and well-being, cholesterol myths have their origins in the Framingham Heart Study, which started under the direction of the National Heart Institute (now known as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or NHLBI) in 1948. The leading cause of death and illness in the United States is cardiovascular disease (CVD), and the objective of the study was to identify risks that increase the likelihood of developing heart disease.
When the project began not much was known about the causes of heart stroke and related illnesses; however, it was the right way to start a journey of cure and awareness. One of the risk factors identified in the Framingham Study was that one cause of CVD was high cholesterol. But thirty years later new scientific studies found no correlation about cholesterol and heart disease. “There has been a bad interpretation by the press about this and pharmaceutical companies have misinformed the public to fatten product sales. Nowadays there is proof that no clear causal relationship exists between cholesterol and heart attack,” explains Dr. Remos. “There is even a higher rate of 70% of patients that suffer CVD that don’t even have high cholesterol. What happens is that sugar or smoking, for instance, modify cholesterol in the body, and that is when the process of vascular invasion occurs.”
In March 2014, a study was published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine that found no correlation between eating saturated fat and heart disease. It corroborated as well the fact that lower rates of heart disease exist in people who ate unsaturated fat like olive oil. Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the study told the New York Times that his take on this would be that it’s not saturated fat that we should worry about.
Dr. Remos explains that this is not a green light to consume fat without limits, or any other food that might affect the human organism. “There are three things that are harmful to our health, trans fats, sugar and fried food. When some oils are heated the fat mutes and oxidizes. A Mediterranean diet, high in protein and low in complex carbohydrates and sugar is the best bet. And again, thinking that cholesterol is poison is just a myth. It is vital for the well functioning of our precious human body and mind. Adds Dr. Juan Remos. ■