Clarifying Cholesterol

I was asked earlier today about the dangers of eating too much red meat. I knew that red meat is not unhealthy, but I was a bit shady on the exact reasons for this. Since the Whole Life Challenge has started I constantly find myself in conversations such as this. I used to plead total ignorance to issues such as this and follow the crowd. Each time I do this challenge I find myself becoming more informed about what I am putting in my body.

As you know the Whole Life Challenge is in some ways in-line with the Paleo style of eating. Although it does not follow Paleo to a ‘T’, they are very similar. What helps me to think about this is a general framework to look at my nutrition in. One of the many benefits of this is learning how certain foods affect you. Here is some clarification…

A common viewpoint says that if you eat foods such as red meat, eggs, and butter you will have high cholesterol.Let’s take a closer look…

Cholesterol is present in all cells. It helps metabolize sex hormones and fat soluble vitamins. Your body will down regulate and up regulate quantities in relation to how much cholesterol you ingest. HDL and LDL are the two transport vehicles of cholesterol. HDLs (High Density Lipoproteins), recognized as good cholesterol, are transport vehicles sent into the blood to move excess cholesterol back to the Liver. LDLs (Low Density Lipoproteins), recognized as the bad ones, are the transport vehicles that transport cholesterol from the liver out into the blood where it is needed. Neither HDL’s or LDL’s are cholesterol, they are carriers of cholesterol.

Cholesterol isn’t a bad thing. It is sent to the rescue by the body when bad things are happening. Arterial inflammation, however, is one of these bad things. If there is inflammation in your arteries, your body sends cholesterol to remedy the inflammation. If the inflammation goes down, everything returns to normal. If not, the cholesterol is continually sent to remedy this issue, your arteries start to clog, and plaque starts to form. Then, more serious problems ensue.

School is in session.

School is in session.

So the big question is, where does the inflammation come from?

Elevated insulin levels cause inflammation. When carbohydrates (glucose) enter your body, insulin is released to lower blood sugar. Insulin is the gatekeeper to cells. It lets things in the cell doors for storage. A diet high in carbohydrates causes elevated insulin, which then causes sugars to store in your cells, which leads to weight gain. This is a pretty common problem in the typical American diet. Not surprisingly, so is heart disease and other cardiac dysfunctions.

So reasoning stands to say if you alter your eating to decrease the carbohydrate and sugars in your diet, your insulin levels will come down, which will decrease fat storage and the inflammation in your arteries. This, in turn, regulates the cholesterol levels in your blood, and brings you back to a healthy place.

Cholesterol gets a bad name, while insulin tends to get off scot-free. Target insulin and get control of your cholesterol. Eating dietary cholesterol is not the the cause of high cholesterol. Your body has a built in adjustment bureau for this called HDL’s and LDL’s. Enjoy red meat, eggs, and butter, and watch that sugar intake.

Cheers to being healthy and happy!


Danny Lesslie


Thursday’s Workout:

8 rounds:
3 Hang Power Snatch (135/95)
6 Clapping Push Ups
100m Run
(1:1 Work to Rest)


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