Strengh Sensei Bookshelf
The Great Cholesterol Myth
The truth about the real cause of heart disease
Those who have followed Charles Poliquin’s career know that he was quite skeptical of many of the beliefs about cholesterol and recommendations. For example, here is what he once wrote about consuming eggs and its effect on cholesterol:
“Only dorks eat egg whites…A guy training naturally needs whole eggs. The studies that showed that eating eggs raised cholesterol were done by the cereal board. Back then, they didn’t differentiate between types of cholesterol, so those studies are invalid. Eggs can raise cholesterol – HDL, the good cholesterol.”
That’s Coach Poliquin! But he has a point about there being many misconceptions about the association between cholesterol and health. This misinformation is detailed in The Great Cholesterol Myth by board-certified nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, and board-certified cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC. “We believe that misinformation, scientifically questionable studies, and corporate greed have created one of the most indestructible and damaging myths in medical history: that cholesterol causes heart disease and that statins are the answer,” says Bowden and Sinatra. They add that this misinformation has distracted us from addressing the actual causes of heart disease, including oxidation, sugar, and stress.
In a change from the first edition of this book published in 2012, this revised and expanded edition is divided into three parts.
Part 1 focuses on defining cholesterol and how it works in the body. There is considerable hardcore medical information in this chapter. However, the authors wrote the material for a general audience and use many graphic design tools, such as callouts, sidebars, and summary statements to aid understanding. One of the critical topics in this chapter includes recognizing the basic types of cholesterol-protein combinations, which VLDL, IDL, LDL, and HDL — although the authors say, “scientists have now been able to identify at least thirteen different subfractions of cholesterol.” It also explains how atherosclerosis occurs and the primary cause of heart disease (spoiler alert: chronic inflammation).
Part 2 takes on the role of diet in heart disease, primarily the misunderstood topics of sugar (which the authors consider the “real villain of the heart disease story”) and the role of dietary fats. Then Bowden and Sinatra take on what they refer to as “The Statin Scam.” As a teaser, the authors believe that the benefits of statin drugs have been “widely exaggerated” through creative marketing and that the risks of taking these drugs may not be worth the risk, especially considering the alternatives to dealing with heart disease.
Part 3 is a section that many readers might want to read first. It provides practical, drug-free methods to improve and maintain heart health. These interventions include dietary modifications, the use of supplements, exercise, and stress management.
It’s also important to mention Appendix B, which gives guidelines into the numerous types of medical tests that can give you critical information about heart health. For example, there is a marker for inflammation the authors say is “directly associated with overall heart and cardiovascular health” called C-Reactive Protein (CRP). And for those who are skeptical about any of the material in this book recommendations, there is an extensive chapter-by-chapter reference section.
The first edition of The Great Cholesterol Myth was published in 2012, and this 2020 edition provides the most current research on this controversial topic. The authors say the promise of their book is “to set you straight on the subject of cholesterol and heart disease.” And they did just that!
[You can purchase The Great Cholesterol Myth by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., CNS, and board-certified cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD, FACC through amazon.com.]