Cholesterol: Setting the Record Straight

Cholesterol: Setting the Record Straight

Like one of the most common sources of this protein in the human diet (eggs), the science on cholesterol changes by the week. Think about it, how many times have you heard doctors, nutritionists, scientists, journalists, or just about anyone, say that cholesterol is bad (or good) for you, and then change their mind? In putting together Grain Brain, the science that I found painted a very clear picture of the true nature of cholesterol. The fact is: cholesterol isn’t the harbinger of nutritional doom that many would have you believe. In fact, study after study has linked cholesterol to improved attention/concentration, learning, memory and abstract reasoning. With this in mind, I’m a strong proponent of eating a diet that isn’t meant to minimize cholesterol levels in the body. Further, avoid the dangerous statins drugs. I’ll dedicate another post to that, but taking statin drugs could be one of the worst things we can do to our bodies. Instead, focus on maintaing a healthy level of cholesterol in your body. Go ahead, add a third (or even fourth!) egg to that Western Omelette you’re making.

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  • Loki

    How does this fit in with the link of high cholesterol and heart disease and the link of lower cholesterol levels and decreased rates of heart disease? If I were a high risk patient for a heart attack I no longer need to be concerned about my cholesterol levels?

  • Sherri Lynn Triolo

    Dear Dr. Perlmutter,
    I am a huge fan of your work ever since Power Up Your Brain. I have had quite a history of health issues which I won’t get into, but suffice it to say, I have followed almost all the advice that you have given in that book and now in Grain Brain. I also have a degree in Biochemistry and love the science of all this stuff. But here’s my question: My father, a type 1 diabetic with a history of 7-bypass surgery @ age 50 (he is now 65) has been on statins every since. His health has declined dramatically since then – mostly neurological. His thinking is slower, and his mood is definitely suffering. He now has diagnosed Parkinson’s. I am terribly concerned about the risk/benefit ratio of the statins and keeping his cholesterol horribly low (total 120). Is he really benefitting THAT MUCH cardiovascularly to warrant all the neurological issues of low cholesterol and statin use? I know what the research says about “normal people”, but what about specific situations like this? Thank you kindly for your advice. I certainly don’t trust my Dad’s doctors who are basically in bed with the statin pharmaceutical reps! Sincerely, Sherri Lynn

  • Liz

    Quick question about cholesterol in eggs. I’ve been told that what we need to be careful of is oxidizing the cholesterol in eggs by overcooking and should eat them poached, soft boiled or soft scrambled. Do you agree?

  • Paul Nebel

    I’m convinced, ordered the baseline tests this week, have already started the carb free diet, so when can I stop the Statins?

  • John

    Can you comment on the recent push to have more people take statin drugs?

    • David Perlmutter

      I’ll be posting a blog on that topic soon John. Thanks for the question!

      • Harley

        I’ll be waiting to see your post. My total cholesterol was recently tested at 384.
        HDL 74
        LDL 285
        I’ve recently lost over 90 pounds on a low carb diet and would hate to be talked into ending this diet because I feel so much better than I did with all that extra weight.

  • Sophie

    How confusing. Just today Dr.S. Gupta on CNN interviewed another MD who is promoting the idea that MORE people should be on statin drugs to control cholesterol levels.

  • Researcher87

    How should elevated levels of lipoprotein(a) and apolipoprotein B be viewed in taking statins?

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  • Carol

    What is a “healthy” cholesterol level? Mine is 298 for total. I east low carb, no grains as you recommend. Is my cholesterol too high and how can I get it lower if needed on your diet? Thank you.


  • Silverback

    I have the same question as Carol. My total cholesterol is 271, but my triglyceride/HDL ratio is 1.70. I am paying more attention to the latter than the former but expect my MD will look at the total and recommend a statin. When I was on a statin my total cholesterol was about 117, which the MD thought was great but which I felt was much too low given what I have been reading, however the Trig/HDL ratio was worse.

  • Margot

    Many recipes call for nuts or milks or flours derived from nuts. What do you recommend as a replacement for someone with a severe nut allergy?