The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: HDL, LDL & Excess Insulin

All of the cholesterol that our bodies require on a daily basis is made in our liver.  For example, in a healthy situation, if we consume 20% cholesterol through our diet…. our liver will make the other 80%.  Cholesterol in and of itself is harmless.  It’s actually a sealant, quite reparative and a carrier of antioxidants.  We need cholesterol to make bile, vitamin D and for cell membrane integrity.  When LDL & HDL are mentioned, we are made to believe two things: one, that LDL & HDL are cholesterol; and two, that LDL is “bad” and HDL is “good”.  As I have learned, LDL & HDL are actually protein molecules that transport cholesterol to and from the cells to enable the cholesterol to carry out its important function and then to later be excreted from the body. For LDL to become pathogenic or “bad”, it really depends on the ratio of the body’s antioxidant defense to the level of oxidative stress that the arteries are under.  Cholesterol ONLY collects in the arteries once the arteries have been damaged – if the arteries are not damaged, cholesterol doesn’t accumulate inside of them.

Artery walls are weakened & damaged by vitamin deficiencies.  Once that process begins, the body activates repair mechanisms.  The body will only use cholesterol for mending when it lacks other structural repair substances, like collagen – again, due to nutrient deficiencies.    At this time, LDL levels become elevated due to the body’s need for repair (thus being deemed “bad).

I believe our main focus of “lowering cholesterol”, especially via pharmaceuticals, is misleading.  Statistically there are just as many people having and dying of heart attacks with total cholesterol levels below 200 as there are with total cholesterol levels above 200.  There are studies that began in the 1960s that show that all of the processes leading to plaqueing of the arteries are caused by the overproduction of insulin (Schwarzbein, 1999).  Excess insulin appears to be the real culprit, more so than cholesterol.  Our focus needs to be on evaluating diet & lifestyle to determine why there is excess insulin is in the blood and what nutritional deficiencies are causing the arterial damage in the first place.