The odds are 1 in 2 that you will die because of too much cholesterol in your bloodstream. Fifty percent of all men and women will die of coronary heart disease (CHD), and elevated cholesterol levels are the major cause. Roll the dice — odds you live, evens you die. Flip a coin — heads you live, tails you die. Step on a crack, break your mother's back. So if you're happy with these odds, don't bother reading any further. Click over to — don't want to hear it, don't want to know, stick my head in the sand and it will all go away.

If you'd prefer to better your odds, take heart (pun #1). CHD is mainly a lifestyle disease, and lifestyles can be changed. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to have a cholesterol problem with what we currently know about diet, nutrition, and healthy living.


There is so much terminology floating around with this issue that it is hard to make any sense of what it's all about. That's why you have to start by understanding what they're talking about: the "good," the "bad," and the ugly.

What is "coronary heart disease"?

Apart from being the #1 killer of both men and women in North America, CHD is a condition caused by a narrowing of coronary arteries (tubes that act as passageways in and out of the heart) which blocks the supply of oxygen and nutrients (carried in the blood) to the heart. Everybody has heard about "hardening of the arteries," which basically means that the arteries become clogged with cholesterol and fat deposits until blood flow is reduced or stopped. This is also called atherosclerosis. It happens slowly, quietly, and there are no symptoms. The first sign of it is usually a heart attack or stroke, at which time it is often too late. The coin toss has gone against you. So the only real way to fight it is with preventative action.

What is this "good and bad" cholesterol all about?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found only in animals or animal products (meat, cheese, eggs). It is actually manufactured inside our bodies. The liver takes some of the fat and cholesterol we eat, and makes it into our own cholesterol, and ships it throughout the body. Cholesterol is part of the family of lipids, or fats, which includes certain "fatty acids," or triglycerides. The liver wraps up its cholesterol and triglyercides in proteins to form little transportation molecules and sends them out into the bloodstream. These transportation molecules are called lipoproteins (lipids and protein).

The main ones that concern us are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). We know, we know, we're throwing lotsa medical terms at you. But it makes us feel important.

What's the difference, and which one is bad?

The Good

HDL cholesterol is "high density" because it has a high amount of protein and not very much fat. The HDL molecules find excess cholesterol in the blood stream and carry it back to the liver for disposal. This is why it is good. If HDL levels are too low, it means there aren't enough around to carry away excess cholesterol and you will be at risk for CHD.

The Bad

LDL cholesterol is "low density" because it has a low amount of protein and a lot of fat. The LDL molecules carry cholesterol from the liver to the other parts of the body, and if there are too many of them, they store the cholesterol and fat in various arteries throughout the body. When there is too much of it, it constantly builds up in the walls of your arteries until a blockage occurs. This is why it is bad. If LDL levels are too high, it means that too much cholesterol is being transported and deposited in your arteries, and you will be at risk for CHD.

The Ugly

The triglycerides are considered the ugly lipid. These are the fat cells that are stored all over your body, usually coming from dietary fat, being absorbed through the small intestine and transported through the bloodstream. If there isn't enough fat in your diet, your body will make the carbohydrate "sugars" into triglycerides for long term storage in your ass, thighs, love handles, or the fleshy places at the backs of your arms. It has many favorite storage areas, including the coronary arteries, making high triglyceride levels another suspect risk factor for CHD. And we have the liver to thank for it!

Can't I just have my liver removed?

…and if I have a headache, can't I just have my brain removed? Shut up. Why do we have cholesterol at all if it's bad, right? Strange evolutionary trait, to produce something which eventually kills us. You'd think that crap would die off, and everybody's arteries would be clean as a whistle. Unfortunately, we need cholesterol to live. It is present in cell walls or membranes everywhere in the body. It is needed to produce many natural hormones, including sexual hormones, as well as vitamin D and bile acids which help us to digest fat, all of which are required to sustain the body, and human life on the planet in general.

So, yeah, it's kind of important, and you have to keep your liver. But only a very small amount of cholesterol is needed in the bloodstream, and the excessive amounts present in the vast majority of adults in North America today are being systematically stored in the arteries, leading to CHD. The direct link between CHD and high blood cholesterol has been suspected and anecdotally known for some time, but it was finally confirmed in 1984 by the "Lipid Research Clinics – Coronary Primary Prevention Trial." (We believe Lance Ito was involved.) The evidence is in, and the facts have to be faced.

How does high cholesterol occur?

Plain and simple, high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, comes from eating foods which are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. What is the most common source of both? Animal products: all meats, cheeses, milk, eggs, etc. We are eating more of them now than at any other time in the history of the world. Big mystery, huh?

There are other peripheral causes that are related to various diseases or disorders that your doctor would be all over like white on rice. We're talking very low numbers here. Do not delude yourself, the main cause of high cholesterol is eating the beasts of the world and their various ovulations and mammary secretions. Welcome to reality.