Conventional knowledge would have you believe that high levels of cholesterol cause heart disease, and that if you have high cholesterol, you need to take cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, and reduce your intake of fatty foods. But, you actually need cholesterol to survive. It is produced in your body by your liver; and it is essential for normal cellular function, hormone production and to fight infection. Cholesterol is the precursor to the production of hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. Although cholesterol is also found in animal products, and the amount of cholesterol you consume affects your cholesterol levels to some extent, so do genetics and the type of nutrients you eat.
The goal is to have the right kind of cholesterol—high HDL (good) cholesterol, low LDL (bad cholesterol), low triglycerides and cholesterol particles that are large and fluffy. Small, dense and hard particles are what cause heart disease and plaque to build up in arteries. And it’s not necessarily the dietary fat that you consume but the sugar (and refined carbohydrates) that reduces your level of good cholesterol, causes your triglycerides to go up and increases the risk of metabolic syndrome or prediabetes.
A typical diet has about 400 milligrams of cholesterol, and most foods that contain cholesterol are also good sources of protein, such as eggs, dairy and meat. And protein is essential for many reasons, in addition to being the building blocks of cells in your body, but its role in successfully carrying cholesterol through the arteries and veins in your body so it can perform its essential functions in your body.
Research has shown that a low-carb diet like Atkins, where you are consuming monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in the form of fish, olives, nuts and avocados and saturated fats in the form of meat, poultry, butter, eggs and cheese, plus optimal protein and fiber-rich vegetables, while eliminating manmade trans fats and refined carbs (found in most margarines, baked goods, fried foods, crackers, chips and many packaged foods), may help you achieve this perfect cholesterol balance of high HDL, low LDL and triglycerides, while decreasing your risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome and prediabetes.