1) Cholesterol is a compound found in animal products - eggs, meats, and dairy. Our bodies naturally make cholesterol - so even being a vegetarian or vegan, you will make more cholesterol than a meat-eater because your body needs it for many purposes!
2) Cholesterol is NOT linked to a diet high in saturated fats as was once believed! Nor is a diet high in cholesterol responsible for your high blood cholesterol! This is because the body makes enough cholesterol for what it needs. If you eat less cholesterol, your body makes more & vice versa.
3) The reason why cholesterol is perceived as unhealthy is because it is found in plaques in blood vessels, which restrict the blood flow and over time can block the flow, causing pain, cell death, stroke or heart attacks. In truth, the analogy of cholesterol is that it is like a fireman at the scene of a fire. Yes cholesterol is found in arterial plaques, but it is NOT the cause of them! (read what does cause them below...)
4) There is no such thing as "good" cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol. Cholesterol is cholesterol and it's all good! Also, over 50% of people who have had heart attacks or heart disease do not have high cholesterol levels! So there is something else other than cholesterol that causes heart disease in most people.
5) Heart disease risk has been shown in research to not be increased by saturated fat intake! Saturated fat, despite popular belief, actually protects the heart! Reducing fat in the diet in research studies did not reduce the risk of heart disease.
6) The US Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services changed the US dietary guidelines on the intake of cholesterol in foods in 2015, stating that "cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern", based on recent research.
7) Cholesterol is an essential substance without which we would not be alive! We actually need cholesterol in our bodies for making our hormones, making the walls of hundreds of millions of new cells each day, carrying fat-soluble nutrients around in the blood to all cells, making bile which helps us digest fats in the diet. With low cholesterol, many health problems occur.
8) If that's not enough evidence against cholesterol being a baddy, a 2011 study on over 52,000 people with a followup period of 10 years, found that the higher your cholesterol was, the longer you lived! What?!
So if it's not dietary sources of cholesterol which causes high blood cholesterol and plaques, then what does?! This might shock you...
High cholesterol and arterial plaques are more caused by a combination of factors:
1) A diet high in sugar, fruit juice, whole grains and bakery products (because they are highly processed carbohydrates)
2) A diet high in trans fat, from processed foods, margarine and fried foods
3) A diet high in oxidised vegetable oils (when vegetable oils are heated)
4) A diet low in vegetables, fibre and antioxidants
5) And having a sedentary lifestyle (ie, not much exercise or movement).
Eating a "low fat" diet because you are worried about saturated fats and cholesterol is unfounded and is not based on quality or recent scientific research. It doesn't help to improve your health because "low fat" diets or foods cause insulin resistance, or effectively, diabetes, and unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, which is what you are wanting to avoid.
Unfortunately if your total cholesterol over about 7 then your GP will probably recommend or prescribe a statin medication to stop or prevent your body from making cholesterol. Because we actually make cholesterol naturally every day for many purposes, having less cholesterol results in a LOT of unhealthy side-effects, including low energy, poor memory and concentration, muscle and joint pains, headaches, nausea, liver damage, increased blood sugar (ie diabetes).
In a recent study in the prestigious British Medical Journal, it was found that simply adopting a Mediterranean diet is 3 times more powerful at reducing your risk of death from heart disease than taking a statin! Imagine just changing your diet to improve your health, and it being more effective than a prescription medication! The Mediterranean diet includes a moderate amount of animal products, healthy fats (olive oil, non-lean meats), and this was found to be 30% better in reducing cardiovascular issues than a low-fat diet, as well as preventing plaques and high blood pressure!
I am not suggesting that you should stop taking your statin medication, but by working with your GP, and myself to improve your diet and lifestyle, you may find that you need to take less medications and have a greater quality of life!
The best medicine for heart health as well as for your whole body is to prevent or reduce the causes of cardiovascular issues, with a holistic (whole body) treatment plan - which is what I do!