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The Complete Guide to Cholesterol: What You Need to Know

Table of Contents

There’s a 1 in 4 chance that if you’re reading this you have been told you have high cholesterol and are on a cholesterol-lowering medication or statin.

The scary part is, that scientifically, there is a 1000 to 1 chance that you don’t need to be on one. And the only people who do are sufferers of a rare condition known as hypercholesterolemia (a metabolic condition with impaired ability to metabolize cholesterol).

Now I don’t expect you to believe me just yet, but I want you to go into reading this article with a curious and open mind. Just read it, check out the studies and then make your own intelligent decision.

I intend to provide all the evidence to prove that:

  • Cholesterol is not evil
  • Cholesterol is not the cause of heart attacks or heart disease
  • Modern medicine still labels cholesterol as bad ($$$)
  • Statins (which ironically resemble the word Satin) is unnecessary to most, and quite often dangerous

Now I am very passionate about this subject because it hits close to home.

I have done all my research and am writing this in an attempt to get my own father off statin medications and have him around to play with his grandchildren.

And quite frankly, the fact that such a large-scale manipulation can occur over pure greed pisses me off.

So here is everything you need to know about cholesterol, I hope it leads to a healthier you.

And please share this article. The more eyes on it, the better.

key takeaways

  • Cholesterol isn’t bad; our bodies need it.
  • Having a bit more cholesterol can be good.
  • High cholesterol isn’t linked to heart disease.
  • Don’t believe everything about cholesterol being the enemy.

What is Cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a waxy lipid that is found in every single cell in your body (and actually every cell membrane on earth). Its job is to build and maintain the cell membranes, metabolize fat-soluble vitamins, create bile acids, insulate neurons, help in the formation of memories, and act as the raw ingredients for many of the body’s hormones, including the ever-so-valuable vitamin D & testosterone.

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What does Cholesterol Do?

Cholesterol molecules

So we need cholesterol to survive, and in all honesty, we need lots of it to thrive. You see, 75% of the cholesterol in our bodies is made by our liver (between 1,000 – 1,400mg a day). The other 25% is from our diets. You might be wondering why something deemed so evil would be made by our liver, and involved in every single cell of our body. It’s a good question.

What’s even more interesting is how when you eat less cholesterol, the liver actually ramps up cholesterol production to ensure we have enough. The less cholesterol we eat, the more the liver makes and the more we eat, the less the liver has to produce. is our body trying to sabotage us?

Probably not...

Types of cholesterol

Different types of cholesterol illustrated in an heart shape

The next thing you need to know is that there are no multiple “types” of cholesterol. And there is no “good” cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol.

There is just cholesterol.

We have multiple categories of cholesterol because fat is not water-soluble, so cholesterol can not transport itself around the body. It must bind to different types of Lipoprotein to move around, which you know as HDL and LDL.

The different categories of cholesterol are as followed:

1) HDL cholesterol (High-Density Lipoprotein)

HDL is deemed as the good guy. It is the cholesterol that removes cholesterol from your arteries and cells and brings it back to the liver. Not to be removed, but to be recycled.

2) LDL cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein)

LDL cholesterol is deemed as the bad guy. It’s the cholesterol that brings cholesterol from your liver to various cells and arteries in the body. You can see why people may see this as bad, but you’ll learn all about what is really going on here later.

3) VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein)

A.K.A. LDL-P (LDL Particle) or LP(a) is a branch of LDL.

These tiny LDL particles are a strong risk factor for heart disease that many doctors neglect to check for (you’ll learn what you need to check for later). But as we talk about further down, high VLDL is not the cause – but the symptomatic warning sign.

4) Triglycerides

Triglycerides are actually dangerous fat that is linked to heart disease and diabetes. But contrary to what you may think, triglycerides actually rise from eating too many carbs & sugars, not exercising enough, smoking, drinking & being obese. Not from eating fat.

Not all cholesterol is created equal.

So as you see, there are various types of cholesterol, and they all have different tasks.
What you need to know is that your total cholesterol means almost nothing. And unless over 300, it is not an indicator of heart disease risk. At all.

Difference between HDL and LDL Cholesterol

cholesterol cells

HDL and LDL cholesterol are two different “teams” playing in the same game of managing your body’s cholesterol. HDL is often seen as the “good” team, LDL as the “not-so-good” team. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Think of HDL like a clean-up crew. It rounds up extra cholesterol in your body and carries it back to the liver, helping to keep your arteries clear. That’s why folks usually give HDL a thumbs up.

On the other side, you’ve got LDL. This team can be a bit tricky. There’s a big version of LDL, kind of like a big, fluffy marshmallow, and it’s actually not a big problem. This big, fluffy LDL can’t sneak into the walls of your arteries. So, even if there’s a lot of it, it’s not necessarily bad news.

But there’s also a smaller, sneakier LDL – the VLDL or LP(a). This one can creep into your arteries, and if it builds up, it’s like a time bomb for heart disease. Unfortunately, a lot of doctors don’t give this small LDL the attention it deserves.

So, it’s not just about the total score of cholesterol in your body. It’s more about who’s playing on the field. And the treatments, like statins, that just lower the total score without considering the players, could be more dangerous than you think. We’ll go into the nitty-gritty of this in the next sections, and you’ll learn how to check which LDL players you’ve got in your game.

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Now that you are an expert on what cholesterol does, and you can see that your body NEEDS it, you are probably confused as to why it is believed to cause so many problems. We’re going to clear all that up.

But first, there is an important concept you need to understand…

Eating Cholesterol in The Diet Does Not Raise Cholesterol in The Blood

Buffet of delicious food

The thought that eating cholesterol and saturated fats raise cholesterol levels in our blood (the Diet-Heart Hypothesis) is one of the most common myths that plague society today. It is a culturally accepted lie, that has absolutely no scientific backing. It’s actually completely backward.

But don’t feel bad if you feel cheated after reading this section. Even Marc Cuban stated he stopped eating cheese because he wanted to lower his cholesterol on one of the latest episodes of Shark Tank. One of the richest men in the world, but one of the stupidest statements he’s probably ever made.

Let’s look at some facts:

On any given day our bodies contain between 1,100 and 1,700 mg of cholesterol. As we talked about above, 75% of that is produced inside of us by the liver. Most of the cholesterol in the food we eat cannot be absorbed by the body, and when cholesterol intake goes down, the body will just make more. And vice versa.

Some studies to prove this:

1) The Samburu people in Africa

The Samburu people in Africa are quite remarkable. They eat about a pound of meat and drink two gallons of raw milk each day (essentially they consume twice the cholesterol of the average American), and their cholesterol levels are shockingly lower.

Around 170mg/dl to be exact. This can be seen by the Masai people in Kenya and the shepherds in Somalia as well.

2) From a PubMed study

“Dietary cholesterol content does not significantly influence plasma cholesterol values, which are regulated by different genetic and nutritional factors that influence cholesterol absorption or synthesis.”

Essentially, cholesterol is not greatly absorbed when you eat it. A lot of it is excreted. And when you do eat a lot of cholesterol, your liver thanks you and actually produces less.

3) The creator of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis even agrees

Ancel Keys, who you will learn about later, is one of the major proponents of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis, which went public in 1977. He later came out to say in 1997 that:

“There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter unless you happen to be a Rabbit or a Chicken.”


25% of the population is known as hyper-responders, which means they respond to dietary cholesterol with a modest rise in blood cholesterol, but these people are safe too. It has been proven that the rise in LDL and HDL does not affect the ratios or increase the risk of heart disease.

What about saturated fat?

a human like pig

Now that fat is becoming more understood via studies and people are beginning to see that replacing carbs with unsaturated fats, such as walnuts, flax seeds, and fish actually lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and reduces the estimated cardiovascular risk, things are changing. But saturated fat is still a grey area in many people’s minds, so I wanted to address it.

Food high in saturated fat includes:

  • Fatty meats
  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Coconuts
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Dark chocolate.

It’s important to say that no evidence has ever linked saturated fat to heart disease. Actually, it’s the opposite.

Eating saturated fats has been proven to mildly raise LDL cholesterol, yes. But what is actually happening is the conversion of VLDL to Larger benign LDL cholesterol particles which reduce your overall risk of heart disease. Essentially this means that eating saturated fat lowers your risk of heart disease.

My mind is blown.

On top of that, saturated fat only boosts LDL cholesterol in the short term, but no evidence has been found on the effects of LDL by saturated fat consumption over long-term periods. So essentially low carb, high-fat diets (including saturated fat) lower your VLDL and protect your heart. But high-carb diets low in fat will raise your VLDL and put you at risk. Enjoy your bacon.

What about Trans Fat?

Trans fat does not follow its fat friends in the heart-healthy race.

Avoid Trans fats like the plague. Studies show that trans fats lead to insulin resistance, inflammation, accumulation of body fat, and a huge increase in the risk of a heart attack. Trans fats include vegetable oils such as soybean and corn oils, as well as the processed foods that we see so often in American diets. Just stay away.

So what does raise cholesterol in the blood?

Ironically, eating lots of sugars and grains which contain no cholesterol, mental stress, lack of physical activity and change in body weight may. These will ramp up your bad cholesterol production because of the inflammation they cause. But this is going to be covered in depth later in the article.

Okay – so eating cholesterol doesn’t raise cholesterol. That’s one myth covered. Next, we’re going to jump into an even bigger myth, the one that has you scared of this vital lipid in the first place…

Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease

heart digital art

For this section, I am going to break it up into a lot of sections that you can click through and go read for yourself about how cholesterol has now been proven to be good for us, and not cause heart attacks, heart disease, or death (regardless of what you hear on CNN).

1) Lowering Cholesterol Does Not Reduce Heart Disease

A study from the American Medical Association of 70-year-old men (at a 10x higher risk of heart disease than 45-year-old men) shows that high LDL cholesterol is not a risk factor of coronary heart disease or any other cause of death at this age. So if cholesterol is not a factor for 70-year-olds at risk of heart disease, why would it be for a 45-year-old?

2) Look at The Ladies

Women suffer 300% less heart disease than men, in spite of having higher average cholesterol levels. The study determined that there was absolutely no relationship between total cholesterol levels and mortality from any cardiovascular-related causes.

3) Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egyptians, who were in fact plagued with the issue of heart disease and clogged arteries as we are today, actually ate a vegetarian diet, consisting of very little cholesterol.

4) Cholesterol Levels Around The World

The video below is an amazing look at cholesterol levels around the world, and how they have zero relation with heart disease risk. Actually, the Aboriginals who have the lowest levels of cholesterol of any population studied have the highest rate of heart disease in the world, and the Swiss who have the highest cholesterol levels have a 30X lower rate of heart disease. Interesting stuff.

Credits: Glain Wainwright

5) Saturated Fat Has no Effect on Heart Disease Risk

Back to the saturated fat topic, in this study of 347,747 participants, it was concluded that there is absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease. These studies are conclusive.

Founder, CEO | Menprovement

And on top of not causing heart disease or atherosclerosis, low cholesterol actually increases your risk of death, and those with higher cholesterol live longer. Yes, you read correctly. It’s a proven fact.

Low Cholesterol

Image of an heart under water

People with higher cholesterol live longer. It’s a simple fact that has been proven over and over and over, and I am going to show you that proof here.

The dangers of having low cholesterol

Not only does cholesterol not attribute to heart disease, but lowering it will actually increase your risk of dying. It’s safe to say that lowering your cholesterol is CRAZY.
As stated in Dr. Mercola’s popular cholesterol article:

“Sally Fallon, the president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and Mary Enig, Ph.D., an expert in lipid biochemistry, have gone so far as to call high cholesterol “an invented disease, a ‘problem’ that emerged when health professionals learned how to measure cholesterol levels in the blood.”

This explanation is great. When you lower your cholesterol to dangerously low levels, all types of things go wrong. Essentially you are throwing your body out of homeostasis. What do you think going to happen?! Some of this for starters:

a) Lower Cholesterol Increases Depression

Dutch studies of over 30,000 men prove that lower cholesterol increases your risk of depression, and in turn, those with higher cholesterol tended to live longer.

b) Chronically Low Cholesterol Increases The Chance That You Will Kill Yourself

Research has found that those in the lowest quarter of cholesterol levels have a significantly higher chance of committing suicide than those in the highest quarter of cholesterol levels. Additional sources: 1, 2

c) Lower Cholesterol Makes You More Violent

In this study, “Low cholesterol (below the median) was strongly associated with criminal violence in unadjusted analysis.”

d) Statins, Which Lower Your Cholesterol, Increase Your Risk of Cancer

Studies (1,2) show that statin use, which doctors use to lower cholesterol increase the risk of cancer.

Overall, Low Cholesterol Results in a Higher Chance of Dying

Yes, you read that correctly. While you are constantly told to lower your cholesterol, this recommendation is literally bringing you closer to death.
Sean Russell
Founder, CEO | Menprovement

In a recent study, researchers examined the relationship between overall mortality and individuals aged 60-85 (average age 71) over a period stretching over 12 years.

Initial analysis revealed that higher total cholesterol levels (> 200 mg/dl/5.2 mmol/l) were associated with a 24% reduced risk of mortality over the study period. And lower cholesterol levels (< 170 mg/dl/4.4 mmol/l) were associated with a 60% increased risk of death. A quote from the study:

“After excluding 116 individuals who died prematurely (<2 years) or were underweight (BMI <20 kg/m2), the only variable presenting a positive association with mortality was total cholesterol <170mg/dL.”

What qualifies as low cholesterol?

According to Dr. Mercola, very low cholesterol is pretty much anything under 150, but anything under 170 was shown to be dangerous from the study above. So all this means one thing.

2) People with higher cholesterol live longer

So you know that low cholesterol is dangerous, but this doesn’t mean that high cholesterol isn’t. But not only is it not, it actually will increase the length of your life. The studies below are just a few that prove this.

A) The Yugoslavia Cardiovascular Disease Study

This study shows that over a 7-year period, the serum cholesterol levels of Yugoslav males aged 35–62 were negatively related to mortality, i.e., those with lower cholesterol experienced higher mortality than those with higher cholesterol.

B) Cholesterol is Correlated With a Longer Life

Great article by Dr. Uffe RavnSkov, M.D, P.H.D which highlights over 10 examples of how higher cholesterol is correlated with longer life.

Don’t believe me, believe the studies!

There is sufficient evidence that cholesterol is not going to kill you. It’s an important part of this whole cholesterol story and it’s important to note that there are no studies that prove that cholesterol is correlated with an increase in death or heart disease.

And don’t just take my word for it, click the studies, read them, and get educated. Your health depends on it.

So How Did Cholesterol Get Such a Bad Rep?


If cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, how did it get such a bad reputation in the first place?

It all started with a dude named Ancel Keys

Back in the 1940s, the incidence of heart disease began to take off. (Ironically this is when a lot of sugars and grains were introduced into the diet). This led scientists and researchers to a desperate search for what was going on. One of these scientists was Ancel Keys, who studied the diets of 22 countries from all around the world and compared them to their mortality rates.

In 1958 he published a study called “The Seven Countries Study,” in which picked the data from 7 countries that matched his hypothesis (cholesterol caused heart disease) and omitted the other 15, which showed that cholesterol and dietary fat intake didn’t cause heart disease (Like countries such a Holland & Norway, which had a high fat intake but little heart disease).

Later, when other researchers analyzed his data using all the original countries, the link between fat and heart disease totally vanished. This highly flawed study gained massive media attention and had a major influence on the dietary guidelines of the next few decades.

Next came The McGovern Committee

In 1977, a committee led by George McGovern published the first “dietary goals” for the U.S.A in order to reverse the heart disease epidemic.

Based on the previous studies done, and what they thought they knew, the dietary goals were:

  • Eat fewer fats & intake less cholesterol
  • Eat less processed sugars (They got one thing right)
  • Eat complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, and grains.

These guidelines were then picked up by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), which built a billion-dollar industry by bringing us the wheat-based foods we all love so much. The prognosis was essentially to eat a low-fat diet, high-carb diet and you’ll be fine.

The guidelines were based on false science, which as you have seen has been repeatedly proven wrong. And ironically parts of this diet are the exact cause of the increased risk of heart disease. It’s also interesting to note that shortly following this, the obesity and diabetes epidemics began. So with these guidelines in place, the world we live in now was shaped.

To credit Ancel Keys, he came out to say in 1997 (maybe his conscience got to him) that:

“There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter unless you happen to be a Rabbit or a Chicken.”

But the damage was done. This may be slowly changing more and more each year. But until it had changed 100%, it always leads back to the same question…

Why Does my Doctor Tell Me to Lower my Cholesterol?

a doctor giving advice

For starters, I can think of Thirty Billion, and One reason why you are told you need to lower your cholesterol. 30,000,000,000 of which being dollar bills.

1) The statin drug industry is a $30 Billion dollar industry

Imagine basing a $30 Billion dollar industry on incorrect science that is now proven wrong. It’s mind-blowing. Imagine if that industry disappeared overnight, what would happen. Which is why it doesn’t.

The pharmaceutical companies spend millions of dollars each year (they can afford it) enforcing a lie that cholesterol is bad and you need drugs to lower it. Right now it’s these tens of millions of dollars of advertising vs guys like Dr. Mercola, Dr. David Perlmutter, Mark Sisson, Steve Kamb, Chris Kresser & myself amongst many others.

2) The food industry grew on the guidelines set by The McGovern Committee

Have you been to the supermarket lately?

Whole grain this, whole grain that. If we put the entire lifespan of human beings into one year, then we have only been eating whole grains for a day. We are not evolved to eat these foods. But that’s a subject for another article.

And did you know that whole wheat bread spikes your blood sugar just as much as white bread? And both of them spike it more than a Snickers bar. For anyone not familiar with dieting science, a spike in blood sugar is bad. The result is fat being stored.

It’s just another billion-dollar industry that was built on false science. Go to the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics Website and check out their recommendation for a heart-healthy diet:

Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood.

Seems like insane advice, considering what you just learned. But it makes sense when you find out that they are sponsored by:

  • The Coca Cola Company
  • Pepsico
  • Kellogg’s
  • General Mills
  • Hershey’s

How can you and myself understand what a heart-healthy diet is but the Academy of Nutrition And Dietetics can’t?

The corruption is real and just shows that no matter how big and authoritative an organization, they are just a bunch of people with fancy titles who love money. Don’t take advice from someone sponsored by Coca-Cola.

Educate yourself and learn more about stuff like this.

3) How old is your doctor?

I’m not knocking doctors.

They are brilliant and can save people from so many things, performing mind-blowing surgeries and doing things I can’t even pronounce.

But when you are a doctor who has undergone 7+ years of school and has 30+ years of experience (that has ingrained him with the knowledge that cholesterol is bad) and a patient walks in and tells him he’s wrong, how do you think they will react?
Sean Russell
Founder, CEO | Menprovement

It’s a sad truth, but I feel like I know more about cholesterol than my doctor. And now you may as well. If your doctor is an older man, there is a 90% chance he is still on the cholesterol bandwagon.

And it’s not his fault, at first.

He has been taught incorrect information, he is constantly educated by the pharmaceutical companies who sponsor many of America’s biggest health corporations, and they offer pretty incentives to prescribe their drugs. You can’t know something when you are taught the wrong thing. Doctors are only people.

All that being said, there are many doctors who are catching up to this, and it is my belief that it is not until the doctors just going to school now are up and running practices in 20 years, that the cholesterol myth will die. And it will die.

You cannot keep up a lie against science forever. Look how long the tobacco companies took to admit cigarettes were bad for you. And it took 20+ years to take lead out of gasoline after they had the science proving it was deadly to human beings.

The gas companies fought it for 20 years, with their own team of highly paid scientists who said:

“it had no negative effects on humans.” It’s scary what people are capable of when the dollar bill is in play. But it will change. And you should share this article to be a part of that.

What Causes Heart Attacks And Heart Diseases?

an exploding heart

This is the million-dollar question. It’s what I was left wondering after hearing other people tell me cholesterol is not bad for you. And it’s the immediate question I still get when I tell people this.

“That’s crazy – Then what clogs arteries?”

The quick answer: Inflammation and Oxidation

1) Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural process in the body that occurs as a response to invaders and perceived threats.

In many cases it is a good thing, like when you scrape your knee, inflammation is what causes your blood to clot, blood vessels to constrict, and the immune system to trigger and send cells to repair the damage. The result is that scrape on your knee heals and “scars” over.

But in excess it is dangerous.

Like your knee, if your arteries are damaged (from toxins, free radicals, viruses, or other bacteria), your body goes through the same inflammatory process, including blood thickening and blood vessels constricting; expect that the final “scar” formed in your artery is known as plaque.

The formation of this plaque, thinning of the arteries, and thickening of the blood cause an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks.

This is where cholesterol starts to get a bad rep, but for unjust reasons. Remember that we learned that cholesterol is a part of every cell and makes up the cell membrane.

When cells are damaged, anywhere in the body, cholesterol is bound to LDL and released into the bloodstream to heal the cells. This is no different in your arteries. The cholesterol doesn’t just stroll by deciding to stick to your arteries, it only does when it needs to.

So when your arteries are damaged, resulting in inflammation, a plaque forms (scar), and cholesterol (the bandaid) being part of that plaque, is sent to the arteries to heal and produce new healthy cells. In the case of arteries, it is VLDL which is small enough to fit inside.

But there’s more.

Cholesterol isn’t even necessary for a plaque to form. Contrary to what most people believe, plaque is made up of mostly scar tissue, which is made of protein. When blood clotting proteins (platelets) need to heal and injure, they become sticky and adhere to the damaged tissue like a bandaid. This process is how blood clots form.

In the arteries, a complex mixture of platelets, calcium, cholesterol, and triglycerides is sent to the site to heal the injury. So this mass of fibrous tissue is only a small part of cholesterol, yet it takes all the heat.

When the inflammation resolves, the cholesterol or “bandaid” goes away and the healing is done. You’re safe and sound. The problem arises when inflammation is chronic and doesn’t stop, meaning the cause of the injury is not removed.

Then the cholesterol & other fibrous tissue has to stay and eventually can be acted on by macrophages where it can become oxidized to a point in which it takes up more space & slows flow in the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis). This can then break off and form a clot, resulting in a stroke or heart attack.

This is dangerous (obviously), but if you understand correctly, it is NOT the cholesterol that is causing the problem. Cholesterol is a natural symptom of the “bandaid” of the problem, chronic inflammation, and is just one of the materials in this process. Cholesterol is just guilty by association.

This is why when first studied, scientists believed that heart attacks were caused by cholesterol because it was present in the arteries where heart attacks occurred. But it was only there to HEAL the chronic inflammation and plaque formation that occurred because of the initial damage to the arteries. Blaming the cholesterol is as crazy as blaming the bandaid you put on that scrape on your knee for causing it to hurt. It’s just the bandaid.

That’s why taking cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins is useless, because it treats a symptom, and not the real problem (chronic inflammation). And on top of that, they may actually boost your risk of heart disease by taking away vital nutrients like CoQ10, which your heart needs to thrive.

What causes chronic Inflammation?

In short, a diet filled with sugars, grains, and trans fats. What people switched to after the heart crises scare in the ’50s.

This is also why we now have an obesity and diabetes epidemic, yet you still see these recommendations on our national health site. It’s scary. Other causes are smoking, poor physical activity, and stress. Learn a lot more about it in the next section.

2) Oxidation

digital art of an heart that is on fire

Almost all studies suggest that LDL, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, is only dangerous when it is oxidized. And VLDL, which enters the arteries has been found to be oxidized much easier than larger LDL particles. When oxidation occurs, the cholesterol that was acting as a bandaid to the plaque or lesion in the arteries can harden and break off the form of a clot. This is obviously very bad.

What causes oxidation?

Trans fats and free radical damage in short. But learn more about how to prevent it in the section below.


Cholesterol is a part of every cell membrane you have, and when you have inflammation occurring in your arteries, because of damage, your liver produces VLDL (the cholesterol that goes to your arteries to heal the problem). When the inflammation is chronic (because of a bad diet) the VLDL cholesterol has to hang around. When the VLDL has to hang around in the arteries, it runs the risk of being oxidized (if you have a lot of free radicals running around you). This in turn can result in the oxidized cholesterol breaking off and forming a clot.

sean’s Tip:

So don’t confuse LDL with VLDL, they are two separate things, which is why when you are getting tested (see below), checking your VLDL levels is of utmost importance. But first, now that you know what’s really going on – how can you protect yourself?

How Can I Prevent Heart Disease?

Image of an heart under water

All the science and facts in this article don’t mean anything if you don’t know how to maintain heart health. What do you do? What do you eat? Everything you thought before reading this may have been wrong.

So you might be feeling a little lost. Relax. I’m about to tell you everything you need to know to maintain optimal heart health and put yourself at the lowest risk for heart attacks and heart disease.

These tips will not only lower your inflammation, but they actually will lower your cholesterol levels. There will be less need for LDL to transport cholesterol from your liver to areas of your body (specifically Very Small Particle LDL). And your HDL will raise as your body brings more cholesterol back to your liver.

All good things.

1) Fix Your Diet

man eating unhealthy food

As you learned above, if you control the inflammation in your body – you control the level of “bad” cholesterol in your blood. The easiest way to control inflammation is to fix your diet.

a) Eat as many vegetables as you can

There’s no limit to how many veggies you can eat. Try to get half a plate with every meal. They will reduce inflammation and oxidation.

b) Eat good quality meat and fish

The best of is organic grass-fed meats, but don’t be afraid of meat in general. And even better, eat lots of fish. Fish is an excellent source of EPA and DHA, and regular consumption of fish or fish oil has been proven to reduce mortality from all-cause by 17%.

c) Get lots of healthy fats

Eat traditional saturated fats, & monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are proven to raise HDL while lowering LDL and triglycerides.

They also decrease oxidation and inflammation, lower blood pressure, and protect against heart disease. Healthy fats include olive oil, coconut oil, raw dairy products (butter, cream, sure cream, cheese, etc.), avocados, raw nuts, seeds, and eggs with runny yolks.

d) Eat polyphenol-rich foods

Food like tea, green tea, blueberries, olive oil, citrus fruits, red wine, dark chocolate, turmeric, and other herbs contain polyphenol which defends against chemical oxidation.

e) Reduce grains and sugars from your diet

This means no sodas, no candy, no bread, no pasta, no rice. I know what you’re thinking, NO FUN!

But honestly, the energy boost you will get from eating this way is amazing. It’s hard, because of the society we live in, but don’t let it hold you down. *If your HDL/Cholesterol ratio is poor then you should even consider eliminating fruit from your diet until it improves. You can then reintroduce it gradually.

f) Snack on nuts

We all love to snack, but you don’t have to give it up to be heart-healthy. Snack on nuts like walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, or hazelnuts.

g) Eat anti-inflammatory foods

Foods such as garlic, ginger curry, and chili peppers are natural anti-inflammatory and will go a long way towards optimal heart health.

f) Avoid vegetable oil

When everyone deemed animal fats as bad in the ’50s, people were left eating vegetable oil instead. This is a nutritional disaster.

These include corn, soy, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower and are high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids., which significantly promote oxidation and inflammation. These oils are found in nearly all packaged foods and most restaurants. Eat at your own risk, and use oils like olive oil and coconut oil instead.

h) Avoid trans fats

Trans Fats, which you know are pretty much the devil cause oxidation. You can counteract oxidation by eating anti-oxidants such as fruits, veggies, dark leafy greens, red meat, organ meat, nuts, and healthy oils.

2) Exercise

man doing push ups in the rain

Exercise has been proven to reduce VLDL concentration regardless of diet. This is huge. And in patients with heart disease, regular exercise showed a reduction in vascular symptoms.

3) Maintain a Healthy BMI

Obesity increases both inflammation and oxidation and in turn, dramatically increases your risk for heart disease. In turn, being too skinny is bad for your health as well.

4) Decrease Stress

Managing stress is key to maintaining heart health. Stress literally triples your risk of heart disease and promotes the hormone cortisol which results in both oxidative and inflammatory damage.

5) Avoid Smoking And Excessive Drinking

Smoking just one cigarette a day increases your risk for heart disease by 40%. Smoking 40 cigarettes a day would increase it by 900%! I don’t like those odds. The more you smoke, the more risk you have for heart disease.

6) Supplementation

vitamin d supplementation

No, I don’t mean statins. But there are a lot of supplements out there that can really go a long way toward optimal heart health.

Of course, you should be careful with testosterone supplements and I highly recommend you only buy natural ones.

a) Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil or other omega 3’s will thin your blood and help prevent clotting. It is also a great source of fat which will lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and decrease inflammation. A must-take for anyone at risk for heart disease. According to Dr. Mercola, Krill oil is a much more effective version of DHA and EPA.

b) Tumeric

Tumeric is one of the best things you can put in your body. It’s great for the liver and controls inflammation. Turmeric is available in extracted pill form so you get a concentrated dose of Curcumin.

c) Garlic

Garlic is great for your cardiovascular system and is a natural anti-inflammatory. If you can’t eat it in your food, supplement with it.

d) Anti-Oxidants

You can take an antioxidant supplement to help prevent oxidation since these antioxidants will combat free radical damage. For more information see Dr. Mercola’s ultimate guide to antioxidants.

Protecting yourself at home is great. And with the steps above you should be doing it. But what about assessing your risk?

This is extremely important, and knowing what to look for and ask your doctor is key.

What Should I Get Tested For to asses My Risk of Heart Disease?

man talking to his doctor

Health officials urge everyone over the age of 20 to have their cholesterol tested every 5 years. While they are probably doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s not a bad idea – because you can learn a lot from these tests, if you know where to look.

1) Total cholesterol means almost nothing

When you get tested at the doctor you will often be given your total cholesterol. This is pretty much a useless analysis of your heart health unless it is above 300.

2) The standards set by the AHA

It’s hard for me to believe that in big bad America, our own American Heart Association is so far off from the truth. How does a self-improvement enthusiast from New York know all this, when they are still living in the ’50s?

The standards set for LDL cholesterol by the AHA are set to 100. And they recommend people at high risk to have LDL less than 70. There is no way to achieve these extremely low targets without taking cholesterol-lowering medication. (convenient). So don’t be scared if you don’t take their “cut.”

3) What actually matters

According to Dr. Mercola, he has had patients with cholesterol over 250 who were at lower heart disease risk than patients with cholesterol levels under 200. This is because of their ratios.
The ratios that matter:

a) HDL/Cholesterol Ratio

HDL percentage is very important in determining your risk factor for heart disease. Just divide your HDL levels by your total cholesterol. A ratio above 24% is ideal and should be strived for.

b) Triglyceride/HDL Ratio

The same goes for your triglyceride/HDL ratio. Divide your triglycerides by your HDL. A ratio below 2 is ideal and should be strived for.

c) Your Level of VLDL (LPP Test)

This is the most important marker. Your VLDL is the LDL that is small enough to fit in your arteries. If it is high, then there is something going on that is causing it to have to go in a fix the problem. A sure sign of elevated heart disease risk. People with mostly small LDL particles have a 3X greater risk of heart disease, compared to those with mostly large LDL particles [source].

d) C-reactive Protein Test For Inflammation

A CRP test is used to measure the inflammation in your arteries. If inflammation is the number one cause for heart disease it makes sense to get it checked right? A CRP under 1 mg means that you are at low risk for cardiovascular disease. 1 -3 mg means you are at intermediate risk, and 3 mg puts you at high risk. This test sounds a little better than testing for cholesterol. Ask for it.

So Let’s Recap

We’ve learned a lot here. Let’s boil it down:

  • Cholesterol isn’t bad; our bodies need it.
  • Not all high cholesterol is dangerous; it’s about balance.
  • Eating fats doesn’t make your cholesterol shoot up, but sugars might.
  • Animal fats don’t cause heart problems.
  • High cholesterol isn’t linked to heart diseases.
  • Having a bit more cholesterol can be good.
  • Some cholesterol drugs might do more harm than good.
  • Healthy habits make for a happy heart.
  • Don’t believe everything about cholesterol being the enemy.

Your choices matter. Eat well and trust facts, not fear.


Additional Cholesterol Resources And Sources

Book: Low Cholesterol Leads to an Early Death – Evidence from 101 Scientific Papers

Dr. Mercola’s: The Cholesterol Myth That is Harming Your Health

Marc’s Daily Apple: The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol

Nerd Fitness: Is Cholesterol Killing Us? A Beginners Guide to Cholesterol

Chris Kresser: The Diet-Heart Myth – How to Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease Naturally

Statin Nation: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up


Our evaluations are conducted by a group of specialists based on actual experiences before they are penned down. To learn more read our Editorial Methodology.

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