What Does Cholesterol Have to Do With Cholesterol?

Like me, SL is fighting the inevitable. At 55, he’s working out vigorously at least once a day. “I feel a hell of a lot better,” he tells me.

Working out not only makes him feel better, it has reduced his risk of heart disease. His cholesterol counts are better than before, but not as good as he’d like them to be. He’s still taking statin drugs and he doesn’t like it.

I asked about his diet and was surprised to hear that he is following an old-fashioned, low-animal-fat, high-carbohydrate plan.

“Eating a lot of cholesterol doesn’t give you high cholesterol,” I told him. He looked at me like I was nuts.

It’s amazing how little most people know about nutrition.

On a recent plane ride, I sat next to a young filmmaker who’d just completed a documentary about dieting. “I really bashed Dr. Atkins,” he said proudly.

I told him that I’d been Atkins’s publisher and asked him what was so objectionable about the Atkins diet. Turns out that he, too, believed that eating cholesterol leads to high cholesterol.

If you want to keep your cholesterol low and avoid statin drugs, Dr. Al Sears provides a complete plan of action in his book, “The Doctor’s Heart Cure.” Here are some of his recommendations:

  • Engage in interval exercise to raise your levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.
  • Eat plenty of protein, the right kinds of fat, and keep your carbohydrate intake low.
  • Eat a diet high in plant sterols, fiber, garlic, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Supplement your diet with policosanol, niacin, vitamins C and E, CoQ10, and L-carnitine.
[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]