Is cholesterol really dangerous ?
Is cholesterol really a foe to eliminate ? Should we use the famous statins, those medication that are so controversial?
A natural molecule
Brigitte-Fanny Cohen, health columnist explains through a brand-new book that, a nutritionist gives his opinion on this issue and on the topic of fats in general. Let’s first remember that cholesterol is a vital molecule, i.e. one that the body needs it to live and it is also molecule created by our body itself and that we swallow when we eat. The cholesterol molecule as presented by the French nutritionist Jean-Michel Cohen plays a role in the artery walls, it serves to cement the cells and give them a certain strength and flexibility.
…but not to be in excess
The problem is excess cholesterol: don’t have too much in the wrong place ! It can become a risk factor for heart attack or stroke. However, it should be remembered that there are other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases: hypertension, smoking, obesity, inflammation of the arteries, the ability of certain blood cells to stick together and form blood clots.
Historically, cholesterol was easy to measure and it is not very expensive to measure by a blood test. Because of these historical reasons, they have been made an ideal culprit by perhaps minimizing the other risk factors discussed above.
The pharmaceutical industry has therefore developed medication to fight excess cholesterol. However some of them can have side effects and are controversial, these are statins. This raises the question of what is really at risk from cholesterol.
Who risk the most?
The individuals with higher risk of cholesterol are people with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disease that prevents them from eliminating excess cholesterol. So this is clear that for those people it is necessary to avoid nutrional excesses. Indeed, the danger for these people is to have very young cardiovascular diseases with records of age of infarction or even from childhood.
For these people with this genetic disease, statins are vital.
They were discovered and developed for them. It is also necessary that these people with higher risk do not eat too much food with a high rate of cholesterol since they do not know how to eliminate it, they must not have excess cholesterol in the way they eat.
Seniors and cholesterol
For all other people, cholesterol remains a risk factor but among many others. Especially for people over 75, the link between cholesterol and cardiovascular risk becomes very weak. For example, people with the highest cholesterol also have the highest life expectancy according to some studies, surprising as that may seem.
It is indeed in the group over 75 years of age that the questioning of statins seems the most justified because the benefits do not seem to be there following modern studies. In addition, side effects such as muscle pain are still very present. So there is undoubtedly a great challenge to be made here.
For healthy people
For all people not suffering from familial hypercholesterolemia, the approaches are hygieno-dietary, i.e. the fact of doing physical exercise lowers cholesterol levels.
Why is that? Simply because cholesterol remains the marker of an imbalance between the calories we eat and the energy we spend. As cholesterol circulates everywhere and is sticky, it remains in the arteries and participates in the formation of plaques.
Before choosing or avoiding certain foods as do nutritionists such as the French Jean-Michel Cohen, it is important to consider that it is the excess calories that raise blood cholesterol levels. This excess of calories comes from fats and sugars. The latter, in excess, if they are not burned by physical effort, will turn into fat and in particular into cholesterol. He therefore has his caloric intake adjusted to his expenses.
And for many, who don’t work hard enough (in a sedentary job for example), it means having to eat less. A concept that Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen and other famous nutritionists have taken up through their different types of low-calorie-based diets.