Fred Kummerow, a 98-year-old researcher and emeritus professor of comparative biosciences at the University of Illinois, argues that dietary cholesterol is good for your heart. He has spent more than six decades studying the dietary factors that contribute to heart disease.
Kummerow states that dietary cholesterol is good for your heart and that there are other, more pressing factors that contribute to heart disease that have been ignored.
Oxysterols or Oxidized Cholesterol is a Major Factor in Heart Disease
In a new paper in the American Journal of Cardiovascular Disease, published in February 2013, Kummerow reviews the research on lipid metabolism and heart disease with a focus on the consumption of oxidized cholesterol, which, in his view, is a primary contributor to heart disease.
According to Kummerow,
Oxidized cholesterol (oxysterols) enhances the production of sphingomyelin, a phospholipid found in the cellular membranes of the coronary artery. This increases the sphingomyelin content in the cell membrane, which in turn enhances the interaction between the membrane and ionic calcium (Ca2+), thereby increasing the risk of arterial calcification.
In 2001 Kummerow and his colleagues reported that the arteries of people who had had bypass operations contained elevated levels of sphingomyelin , one of several phospholipids that make up the membranes of all cells. The bypass patients also had significantly more oxidized cholesterols (oxysterols) in their plasma and tissues than people who had not been diagnosed with heart disease.
Increase in Sphingomyelin in Cell Membranes
The increase in sphingomyelin was a prime suspect in the blocked and calcified arteries of the cardiac patients. According to Kummerow,
When we looked at the arteries of people who had had bypass operations, we found up to 40 percent sphingomyelin and about 27 percent phosphatidylcholine… It took us many more years to discover that when you added large amounts of oxysterols to the cells, then the phosphatidylcholine changed to sphingomyelin.
Further evidence implicated sphingomyelin in atherosclerosis. When Kummerow and his colleagues compared the blocked and unblocked arteries of patients needing second bypass operations, they found that the arteries with blockages contained twice as much sphingomyelin as the unblocked arteries. The calcium content of the blocked arteries (6,345 parts per million) was also much higher than that of the unblocked arteries (182 ppm).
Deposition of Calcium Where it Should Not Be
Other studies had demonstrated a link between increases in sphingomyelin and the deposit of calcium in the coronary arteries. Kummerow’s team searched the literature and found a 1967 study that showed that in the presence of certain salts (in the blood, for example), lipids like sphingomyelin develop a negative charge. This explains the attraction of the positively charged calcium to the arterial wall when high amounts of sphingomyelin are present, Kummerow said.
So there was a negative charge on the wall of this artery, and it attracted calcium from the blood until it calcified the whole artery.
Oxidized LDL is Another Underlying Cause of Heart Disease
While most people have been taught that LDL is the bad cholesterol, it is really the oxidized LDL that is problematic. In this study published in 1998, Kummerow et al showed that oxidized LDL contributes to heart disease by increasing the synthesis of thromboxane in blood platelets, thereby increasing blood clotting.
Trans Fats and Diet High in Polyunsaturated Fats is Another Major Cause of Heart Disease
For years conventional medicine said to stop eating butter because it has saturated fats. However, many studies now show that it is the trans fats that are the culprit. If you are eating packaged foods made with hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils, you are eating trans fats.
Additionally, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vegetable oils, are a source of bad fats. Eating these rancid oils from the oil industry (soybean, canola, corn oil, etc.) drives the internal oxidation of cholesterol.
Cigarette Smoking is Another Major Factor
Cigarette smoking (as well as trans fats) both inhibit the synthesis of prostacyclin, which inhibits blood clotting. By increasing the ratio of thromboxane to prostacyclin, these factors interact to interrupt blood flow, contributing to cardiovascular events and sudden death.
Persistent National Burden of Heart Disease
All of these risk factors are the result of diet or lifestyle choices. The consumption of oxysterols from commercially fried foods such as fast food like fried chicken, fish and french fries — which are fried in rancid vegetable oils that cannot withstand the high heat cooking of deep frying are an ongoing assault to the cardiovascular system.
Internal oxidation caused by consumption of trans fats in packaged foods along with smoking, are the real causes of the enormous burden of heart disease in this country.
Cholesterol is protective and may, in fact, be an innocent bystander at the site of the damage, the arterial wall.
What You Can Do To Avoid Heart Disease
- Stop smoking.
- Stop eating trans fats, fast food and packaged foods with additives and hydrogenated oils.
- Stop avoiding dietary cholesterol. The saturated fats and cholesterol from real meat, cheese and eggs from animals raised on pasture have high quality fats that are necessary for good health.
- Know Your LDL Particle Number — it is more important than HDL and LDL. Read this article here at Chris Kressor to find out more about the LDL particle number. It may be hard to convince your doctor to order this test as most doctors are very slow to change until they are told to do so by their associations.
The Weston Price Foundation has the Opportunity of a Lifetime and We Need Your Help!
The Weston A. Price Foundation has a tremendous opportunity to access an independent research laboratory to further the mission of restoring nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through research, education, and activism.
The research lab is the Burnsides Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, which for many years has been guided by the esteemed Dr. Fred Kummerow. It was Dr. Kummerow who over 40 years ago performed research showing the damaging effects of trans fatty acids, a fact which Americans now take for granted.
Today, at age 98, he continues to do research on the causes of heart disease as outlined above. Dr. Kummerow’s legacy continues with the work of post-doctorate Chris Masterjohn, PhD. Chris is using the Burnsides Lab to study the interactions between fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K, examining the protective effects of vitamins A and K on soft tissue calcification otherwise caused by vitamin D consumed in isolation.
Chris’s research will provide important insights into the fat-soluble vitamins, the key to healthy traditional diets, as discovered by Dr. Weston Price.
The Weston Price Foundation has been assured by the university that $300,000 per year will allow WAPF to have complete access to the laboratory to do their important research. Just imagine the opportunity this presents!
- Chris Masterjohn, PhD, can do further research on the fat-soluble vitamins, including the testing of various foods for levels of vitamins A, D, and K.
- WAPF can research harmful additives in our foods, such as hexane.
- WAPF can investigate the impacts of various cooking and preparation techniques on the nutrient profile of the foods we eat.
- And so much more!
This research will answer the questions we have about nutrient dense foods.
Please donate today to help meet the goal. They have already raised $100,000, but need help to obtain the remaining $200,000. Won’t you help us make up the $200,000 shortage?
Thank you for your support of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Helping now to the best of your ability will go a long way in turning this tremendous opportunity into a reality.
Thank you in advance for whatever donation you can afford. If everyone donates just a few dollars we can make this dream a reality!