The Cholesterol Myth Exposed: Why It Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease


Heart disease is the number one cause of death in industrialized nations. High cholesterol is usually blamed as a major culprit. Yet of the nearly million people who have a heart attack every year in the US, half of these people have normal cholesterol.

What if everything we’ve been told about cholesterol and heart disease is wrong?

Let’s take a look at the myth surrounding cholesterol as a cause of heart disease.

Cholesterol Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease

“Cholesterol causes heart disease” — this is one of the biggest health myths of all time. Mainstream medicine, the media, the US government, and even the American Heart Association have told us to eat a low fat diet and avoid saturated fat for our hearts. Yet, people who follow a diet high fat aren’t dropping dead of heart attacks. Quite the contrary!

Numerous studies have proven that there is no correlation between saturated fat consumption and heart disease.

High fat diets lead to lowering of triglycerides, normalization of LDL (bad cholesterol), and an increase in LDL particle size, which is a good thing — I’ll explain shortly.

This short video explains the findings from a World Health Organization study on trends in cardiovascular disease. It clearly shows that no correlation between cholesterol and heart disease has been found.

You’ll notice that Switzerland has the highest levels of cholesterol and the lowest rate of heart disease!

The American Heart Association Diet Fail

The landmark Lyon Diet Heart Study followed 650 participants who were at extreme risk for heart attacks. They were overweight, sedentary, smoked, and had high cholesterol levels — the works.

Half were put on a Mediterranean diet and half were put on what was called a “prudent” diet recommended by the American Heart Association. The study was halted before it was done because it was deemed unethical.

Why? People on the Mediterranean diet stopped dying even though their cholesterol levels didn’t budge. However so many more people on the AHA diet were dying, researchers felt it was unethical to continue putting people at risk on this diet!

Treat the Patient, Not the Numbers

Unfortunately, most doctors tend to worry more about lowering cholesterol numbers than the overall heart health of their patient. Testing for HDL (good) cholesterol or LDL (bad) cholesterol levels is an outmoded idea. There are more than five kinds of each, so this philosophy is overly simplistic.

One test that seems to provide good information about your risk for heart disease is to measure LDL particle size. Large LDL molecules just move through the blood stream, doing no harm. But small LDL molecules are caused by oxidation and are dangerous. They embed themselves on artery walls, causing inflammation, and leading to plaque development.

If high cholesterol does not cause of heart disease, what does? Here are some of the worst culprits that do contribute to heart disease:

  • Inflammation promotes every degenerative disease. It causes microinjuries to your arteries, causing plaque formation.
  • Free radicals attack LDL turning it from large (safe) to small (harmful) particle LDL.
  • Sugar is highly inflammatory, promoting plaque formation. It also increases stress hormones.
  • Trans fats increase bad cholesterol, decrease good cholesterol, increase inflammation, and raise triglycerides.
  • Stress increases blood pressure. In fact, blood pressure is a measure of stress applied to artery walls.

Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The Great Cholesterol Myth, lists these seven steps to prevent heart disease.

  • Eat an anti-inflammation diet.
  • Reduce and eliminate sugar, grains (especially wheat), and omega-6 fats (vegetable oils).
  • Manage stress.
  • Exercise.
  • Drink moderately.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Supplement intelligently.

His top recommended supplement for heart disease is an omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement.

The Dangers of Statin Drugs

When a doctor sees high cholesterol levels, he’ll most likely want to treat it with a cholesterol-lowering statin drug.

Statin drugs are a health disaster. They decrease production of a heart-protecting nutrient, CoQ10, leading to fatigue and muscle pain.

Because cholesterol is a building block of sex hormones, statin use leads to loss of libido. (Is it a coincidence so many men need Viagra these days? Maybe not.)

Dr. Stephen Sinatra, founder of Heart MD Institute, cites the alarming statistic that 48% of women who take these medications become diabetic.

Dr. Duane Graveline, a medical doctor and NASA astronaut, wrote an eye-opening account of the dangers of one popular statin drug in Lipitor Thief of Memory. He experienced two bouts of serious memory loss diagnosed as transient global amnesia (TGA). Ultimately, this was traced to his taking Lipitor. When you consider that your brain is largely made up of cholesterol it’s no wonder these drugs cause memory loss.

Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the best-seller Grain Brain, goes so far as to say that we should think of cholesterol as our brain’s best friend. Low cholesterol increases the risk of suicide, depression, and dementia. The risk of dementia is reduced by 70% in those with high cholesterol. You read that right – high cholesterol reduces risk of dementia!

Why Doctors Push Statins

Don’t be surprised if your doctor doesn’t acknowledge these side effects. One study found that 65% of doctors don’t report statin side effects because either they don’t believe there’s a correlation or they have been “influenced” by the drug companies. Many doctors will simply tell you these side effects are just signs of age and not to worry about it.

Pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in continuing to promote this $31 billion industry.

The only modest benefit that has been proven for these drugs is when taken by middle-aged men (not women) who have already had a heart attack. It seems likely that this benefit stems from the fact that statin drugs have a slightly anti-inflammatory effect, not because they lower cholesterol. There are much better ways to reduce inflammation without risking all of these side effects.

How to Talk to Your Doctor

If you currently are on statins, make an appointment to talk to your doctor, but go in armed with as much information on cholesterol as possible, like the kind you find in The Cholesterol Crime or The Great Cholesterol Myth.

Ask to have the small particle LDL test done. Most doctors won’t run this test as a matter of course. Some doctors won’t even know what it is!

Even doctors who understand the value of this test don’t recommend it because it’s normally not covered by insurance. You can ask for it anyway and offer to pay out of pocket.

You can also order this test on your own at an online lab like True Health Labs.  You can get what’s called the “VAP cholesterol test”. This measures all parameters that matter including particle size.

Know for sure if you have a genuine cholesterol problem. Then if you don’t, work with your doctor to wean yourself off the cholesterol medication you are on.



Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. She teaches the best ways to stay mentally sharp for life at her website Discover how to protect your brain from the many hazards of modern life and optimize your brainpower – sign up for her e-course 21 Days to a Brighter Brain here.


Deane Alban
Deane Alban is co-founder of and author of "Brain Gold: Brain Fitness Guide for Boomers" and "21 Days to a Brighter Brain."

Deane holds a bachelor's degree in biology from University of South Florida, where she also studied journalism. She has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years, including teaching healthy cooking classes.

As a baby boomer, Deane has turned her passion for healthy living to focus on a major problem people everywhere are facing – issues with mental decline right now and worries about Alzheimer's disease and dementia in the future. Deane brings the science down to earth in an entertaining and engaging way, giving her readers practical, easy-to-follow advice to keep their minds sharp for life.

Deane lives near Tucson, Arizona with her husband and business partner, Patrick, a retired chiropractor. She loves living in the desert where plenty of sunshine and outdoor activities help keep her mind young!