Clarifying Ideas about Cholesterol – Correlation is not proof of causation.
Most blood cholesterol comes from unburned food energy. It is a useful biomarker for indicating food energy intake has been greater than expenditure. Current American lifestyles include sleeping, eating, reading, sitting at a keyboard, standing in a line, driving a car, etc. All of these need only 200 Cals per 3 hours, and most meals have MUCH more than 200 Cal. A 1200 Cal meal leaves 1000 Cals during the next 3 postprandial hours during which the liver converts extra food energy into triglycerides and cholesterol that are released into the blood. Food energy toxicity is now a serious health condition.
The excess energy causes transient vascular endothelial dysfunction. It is amplified by omega-6 eicosanoids into harmful health conditions that combine in a “metabolic syndrome” and link to a wide range of other comorbidities linked to HUFA imbalances. The transient postprandial endothelial dysfunction can be lessened by eating fewer calories per meal. Chronic inflammatory damage in atherosclerosis and acute thrombosis in heart attacks are both amplified by n-6 eicosanoids, not by the associated elevated blood cholesterol formed from food energy.
Cholesterol is a key component for cell membrane stability, and it forms important steroid hormones and bile salts. It is made especially by the liver in a complex 25-step process regulated by negative feed back signals that actually slow the formation of more cholesterol.
Food Energy Toxicity- Omega-6 Amplifies It. (3:46 min.video)
Historically, high food energy density was linked with cardiovascular disease (CVD) and high blood cholesterol levels. This led to a broadly held (but unproved) public view that cholesterol causes CVD deaths. A 2014 review (see Figure 1) shows the association of CVD and cholesterol may occur only to the degree that people have more inflammatory n-6 HUFA than the less inflammatory n-3 HUFA. Normal levels of 220mg/dL cholesterol rise 14 mg/dL with an increase of 5% food energy as saturated fat. It lowers about 7 mg/dL with 5% increased energy as polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). The latter approach of more omega-6 PUFA gave expected lower cholesterol and unexpected higher death rates which falsified the hypothesis that blood cholesterol causes death.
Updated July, 2017