Over the past year I have read countless articles on the importance of fat and cholesterol as part of a healthy diet. So much so that experts in the field actually go as far as suggesting that 50-70% of your diet should come from healthy fat (including saturated fats) and cholesterol!
Sound too crazy to be believable? Maybe that's because mainstream medical (and media) are still basing today's diet recommendations on 50+ year old information.
And why does it appear there is no real sense of urgency in allowing this new crucial information to trickle down to you the public? When the majority of medical research is funded by those that profit most from today's unhealthy food industry (pharmaceutical companies, chemical companies, genetic research companies), there will always be a major conflict of interest.
Another major problem with this false notion (fat and cholesterol are bad) that directly affects your health, is in the way doctors are testing for what they consider unhealthy cholesterol levels. Most doctors evaluate cholesterol levels under the assumption that you have "good" (HDL) cholesterol and "bad" (LDL) cholesterol, with the common notion that high LDL leads to health problems. However many studies have shown that a person can have "high" LDL but not be at risk for heart disease, yet others with low LDL may indeed suffer the effects of unhealthy cholesterol levels. And the latest research shows that doctors should be more concerned with your LDL particle number rather than overall LDL levels.
So what are LDL particles? One of the leading experts in the field has explained fat/cholesterol within the blood stream using a very creative analogy.
"The first thing to understand is you don’t have a cholesterol level
in your blood, actually. Cholesterol is fat-soluble, and blood is
mostly water. For it to be transported around the blood, cholesterol
needs to be carried by a protein, specifically by a lipoprotein. These
lipoproteins are classified by density. So, you have very low-density
lipoprotein or VLDL, low-density lipoprotein or LDL, and high-density
lipoprotein or HDL, which are the main ones... If you imagine your bloodstream’s like a river, the LDL particles
are like the boats that carry the cholesterol and fats around your
body. The cholesterol and fats are like cargo in the boats. Right now
doctors are usually measuring the amount of cargo or cholesterol in the
LDL particles. But what we should be measuring is the number of LDL
particles, or the number of boats in the river, so to speak, because
that’s a much more accurate risk factor for heart disease.” Chris Kresser
He goes on by explaining the importance of cholesterol within the body and how it is used by nearly every cell. In fact it is so important that the body can't rely on food as its only source and therefore produces its own, nearly 75% to be exact. That means only 25% comes from diet, and it's regulated so closely that if you do not consume enough dietary cholesterol the body makes more. But to get back to Chris's analogy, in order for cholesterol to be utilized each cell must activate LDL receptors which sit on the outside of the cells and acts as a docking station for the LDL particles (boats) to dock and offload. Without proper LDL receptor signaling the boats (LDL particles) simply drift around within the blood stream.
And therein lies the problem... just as an over consumption of sugar and grains will eventually lead to insulin resistance; it also leads to leptin resistance, which means the cells never activate the lipoprotein receptors (docking stations).
For more information see NMR Lipoprofile