“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.”