Nutrition Activists Celebrate Cholesterol during National Cholesterol Education MonthPosted: September 3, 2009
Group Cites Key Roles of Cholesterol in Body Chemistry, Hormone Balance, Longevity
WASHINGTON, DC, September 1, 2009–September is National Cholesterol Education Month, when government officials will stress cholesterol reduction as a top priority, claiming that “high levels of cholesterol significantly increase the risk of heart disease.” However, the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutrition education organization, urges citizens to celebrate September by learning about the vital roles of cholesterol in the body chemistry and by embracing nutrient-dense, cholesterol-rich foods.
“Cholesterol is deemed a deadly poison. Most people are afraid of eating foods containing cholesterol and of receiving a diagnosis of ‘high’ cholesterol,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Yet, having adequate cholesterol levels in the body is key to good health. The notion that cholesterol is a villain in the diet is a myth, based on flimsy evidence and opposed by many honest scientists, including prominent lipids researcher, Dr. Mary Enig. But, this theory was promoted by the food processing industry to demonize animal fats, which are competitors to vegetable oils and by the pharmaceutical industry to create a market for the sales of cholesterol-lowering drugs.”
Cholesterol is an important building block of the cell, providing structure and impermeability to the cell membrane, making it waterproof. “Without adequate cholesterol in the cell membrane, our cells become ‘leaky’ and cannot function properly,” says Fallon. “In addition, many important substances are made out of cholesterol, including stress hormones like cortisol, sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone, the bile salts for digesting fats, and vitamin D.”
Cholesterol is vital to proper neurological function, playing a key role in the formation of memory and the uptake of hormones in the brain, including serotonin, the body’s feel-good chemical. When cholesterol levels drop too low, the serotonin receptors cannot work, leading to depression and anti-social behavior. Cholesterol is a major component of the brain, much of it in the myelin sheaths that insulate nerve cells and in the synapses that transmit nerve impulses.
Fallon notes that cholesterol-lowering is associated with numerous health problems including depression, cognitive impairment, amnesia, cancer, muscle pain, weakness and neuropathy. “The all-cause death rate is higher in those with cholesterol under 180 mg/dl, yet this is the level the medical profession urges us to meet. People with low cholesterol levels have more deaths from cancer, stroke, intestinal diseases, accidents and suicide. And having low cholesterol does not necessarily protect against heart disease—many people with low cholesterol suffer heart attacks.”
National Cholesterol Education Month is focusing on cholesterol lowering in the elderly; however a 2001 report from the on-going Honolulu Heart Study, published in the Lancet, found “increased mortality in elderly people with low serum cholesterol. . . [and that] long-term persistence of low cholesterol concentration actually increases risk of death.” Corroborating studies indicate that high cholesterol levels in the elderly are associated with a longer lifespan, partly because cholesterol protects against infectious diseases like pneumonia and influenza.
However, Fallon’s biggest concern is the effect of cholesterol fear-mongering on growing children, noting that, “Cholesterol is vital for normal growth and development of the nervous system. Pregnant and nursing women and growing children need cholesterol-rich foods like whole milk, butter, egg yolks and liver to ensure optimal development. Children are being denied these foods on the spurious claim that they will cause obesity and heart disease later in life. The result is an epidemic of learning disabilities and growth problems, and later in life the specter of infertility and chronic disease.”
The Foundation urges parents to learn the other side of the story during National Cholesterol Education Month, by educating themselves on the benefits of a cholesterol-rich diet and by feeding nutrient-dense foods like cheese, eggs, bacon and meat to their children, so that they can do well in school and enjoy protection from disease.
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The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501(c)3 nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 11,000 members, supports 400 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly conference. The Foundation headquarters phone number is (202) 363-4394, website is westonaprice.org, and general email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.