Facts About Cholesterol

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Confused about cholesterol? You’re not alone…There are some very pervasive cholesterol myths out there, and most doctors don’t even realize it. It’s no wonder that patients often are in the dark when it comes to cholesterol and cholesterol treatments. In the video above, radio host Lillian McDermott and I explore some of these cholesterol myths and what you can do to protect your health.

Cholesterol Myths vs. Facts

Myth: High cholesterol is the primary cause of heart disease.
Fact: Inflammation is the root cause of heart disease. Cholesterol is found at the scene of the crime, so to speak, but really plays only a minor role in the cascade of inflammation.

Myth: Saturated fat is dangerous.
Fact: Saturated fats are not dangerous. The real killer fats are the trans-fats from partially hydrogenated oils.

Myth: The higher your cholesterol, the shorter your lifespan.
Fact: Higher cholesterol may actually lengthen your life, as it protects you from gastrointestinal disease, pulmonary disease, and hemorrhagic stroke.

Myth: High cholesterol is a predictor of heart attack.
Fact: There is no correlation between cholesterol and heart attacks.

Myth: Lowering cholesterol with statin drugs will prolong your life.
Fact: There is no data to show that statins have a significant impact on longevity.

Myth: Statin drugs are safe.
Fact: Statin drugs can be extremely toxic. They deplete the body of co-enzyme Q10, which it needs for healthy heart function, and can even cause death.

Myth: Statin drugs are useful in men, women, and the elderly.
Fact: Statin drugs do the best job in middle-aged men with coronary disease.

Myth: Statin drugs are useful in middle-aged men with coronary artery disease because of its impact on cholesterol.
Fact: Statin drugs reduce inflammation and improve blood viscosity (thinning blood). Statins are helpful in men with low HDL and coronary artery disease.

The Great Cholesterol Myth 2020 Edition Cover
Pre-order it on Amazon now!

Coming Soon: 2020 Edition of The Great Cholesterol Myth

I’m excited to share that co-Author Jonny Bowden and I recently reunited to update our best-selling book The Great Cholesterol Myth, and it will be available for sale in October. This new edition also includes the latest research and clinical findings on high-fat/ketogenic diets, sugar, genetics and other factors.

Check it out on Amazon to learn more and pre-order your copy>

Additional Facts about Cholesterol

Here are some other must-know facts about cholesterol:

1. You don’t just get cholesterol through the food you eat; you make it within your liver, brain, and almost every cell in your body. Your body uses cholesterol as a raw material – to build protective cell membranes and structures within cells, to make steroid hormones (the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as stress hormones), and to generate bile salts you need to digest food and absorb fats. Enzymes in your body also convert cholesterol into immune-supporting vitamin D.

2. Your body makes cholesterol as it is needed. The more cholesterol in your diet, the less your body makes and vice versa. On average, your body gets 15 percent of its blood cholesterol from the food you eat, and manufactures the rest of it.

3. Your brain needs a lot of cholesterol – about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your body – for neuron function and to make the fatty myelin sheath coating every nerve cell and fiber. Naturally occurring cholesterol is linked to mental function, and lower cholesterol levels can lead to poorer cognitive performance.

4. Your cholesterol levels can fluctuate throughout the day.

5. Cholesterol tends to go down in the summer and up in the winter. This is likely due to lack of direct sun exposure in the winter months as a means of making vitamin D.

6. After any surgery, your cholesterol soars. It also increases when you battle infections, are under a lot of stress, or have had a heart attack. Reason being, your body relies on cholesterol as a healing agent – to help create new cells whenever they’re needed. Exposure to environmental agents and toxins can also affect your cholesterol levels.

7. Toxic chemicals, free radicals, pathogens, trans-fats and other damaging agents you’re exposed to end up in your blood stream, where they damage the endothelium – the razor-thin lining of your blood vessels. When endothelial cells need to be repaired, your liver sends LDL to the site, and when the healing process concludes, HDL carries the spent LDL particles back to the liver to be removed from your body.

8. Certain antioxidants, herbs and nutritional supplements can naturally reduce cholesterol – interestingly enough, by neutralizing toxins and other damaging agents. Hence such supplementation results in the liver not having to produce as much cholesterol for healing; it also supports other biochemical processes crucial for wound healing.

9. Rather than automatically reaching for a prescription pad upon discovering that a patient has high cholesterol, a doctor should seek out the cause. Through successful treatment of the cause, the symptom of high cholesterol often disappears.

Can Cholesterol Be Too Low?

10. Statin therapy can have many negative side effects, including muscle pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps, constipation, gas, and upper respiratory infection; they can also cause amnesia and other mental deficits. Some of these side effects are due to depletion of Co10, a nutrient your body needs for cellular energy production and a healthy immune system.

Older folks are particularly vulnerable to infections and weakness associated with statin drug use, and some research suggests that doctors should exercise extreme caution when prescribing statins to the elderly, especially if they are frail. I agree – not only because of potential CoQ10 depletion, but because lack of cholesterol can lead to decreased quality of life and mental acuity. I’ve heard from many patients that their strength, energy, appetite, and vitality returned when they stopped taking statins.

As with the elderly, the very young also need cholesterol for growth, development and metabolism. You may have heard about doctors giving statins to children, and if you think this is ludicrous, you’re not the only one.

© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply


  1. nata

    on April 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm


  2. morris zuchter

    on September 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Doctor, thanks for all your updates. How do I get my GP to open his eyes to your messages. He doesn’t feel I need a Lpa blood test just LDL and HDL and its ratio. I am 65 years young, Thanks, Morris.


    on September 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Without Dr. OZ and the internet.i thought every doctor knew everything..How do get off satin drugs?

  4. morris zuchter

    on October 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    [quote]Hi Doctor, thanks for all your updates. How do I get my GP to open his eyes to your messages. He doesn’t feel I need a Lpa blood test just LDL and HDL and its ratio. I am 65 years young, Thanks, Morris.[/quote]

  5. HMDI Editors

    on November 12, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Bob and Morris, Here are URLs to articles we have at HMDI about statin drugs; perhaps they will be of use to you in talking to your doctors:




    Best of health and happiness to you both.

  6. Charles Smirnoff

    on June 11, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    I had my aortic valve replaced with a cow valve three years ago.The warning sign was a mild heart attack.It was leaking badly.Probably due to Rheumatic fever at age 11.The surgeon at UCLA also closed up the hole in my heart (I had it since birth).I am 60 yrs. old and active exercize and mountain bike.My diet is good.My cholesterol readings are good but my cardiologist insists that despite the bad press about statins,a person like me with heart disease should take statins as insurance against further cardiac problems.Over the last three years I’ve been reduced to 20 mg. statin(generic) per day.The only side effects I encounter is muscle cramps and ocasional loose stool.My dilemma is should I continue or is it safe to stop?

  7. Elle

    on August 31, 2020 at 6:18 am

    I just want to do what I can to make sure that my arteries are as clear and flexible as possible. How can I do that naturally?

  8. brit

    on August 31, 2020 at 9:41 am

    sadly altho I was only eating the “good” fats as recommended by Dr Sinatra and also my cholesterol being good, they found I have 50-70% blockage in one of my carotid arteries ;( Now what do I do? Was told to stop ALL fats and go on a statin (which I do not want to take).

  9. James E LaRock

    on September 1, 2020 at 8:47 am

    Thanks for this info on Statins. I just had my annual physical and my cholesterol jumped from about 150 to 210. My GP prescribed a low dose Statin. After reading this it is going to stay on the shelf

  10. Corinne A Palmer

    on September 8, 2020 at 11:01 am

    HI! My name is Corinne Palmer & I was a patient of yours in Manchester, CT for years & years. I moved to Naples, Fl. and Dr. Perlmutter was my doctor until he retired. I have been unable to find an Integrative Cardiologist here. My cholesterol is 260, but my Trigycerides are 165 & my LDL is 165. So I am now on a Ezitimibe, Pravastatin, Fenofibrate. I feel tired all the time now. I had a stroke 4 years ago & wasn’t on anything at that time, so in addition to those meds I am also on Amlodipine, Metropolol, . I would like to get off some of these drugs. What can I do ??

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