No.

End of post?  Well, perhaps not, as so many people seem to think there are.  I have written about cholesterol before (“On Statins, Cholesterol and the Like“) but I am still getting questions, so perhaps I’d better explain.  But first a simple test.  Can you tell the difference between the various pictures below?

[hr] [clearboth]

Bus

Taxi

People

People

[hr] [clearboth]

We hear about cholesterol and we hear about HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.  HDL and LDL are not cholesterol. They are vehicles for transporting cholesterol, hence the silly question above.

For cholesterol: think “people”.  For HDL think “bus” and for LDL think “taxi”.  HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) and LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) are the vehicles used to carry cholesterol around your body.

Cholesterol is vital: it’s in pretty much every cell of your body, and it is nearly all (over 80%) manufactured in your liver.  The amount of cholesterol derived from dietary sources is pretty low.  After your liver has manufactured cholesterol it is loaded into taxis and shipped out to whichever part of your body needs new cholesterol.  Worn out cholesterol is loaded onto buses and shipped back for repair or discard.

Now, what is of interest is, do you have big taxis or small taxis, and how crowded is the highway?  Buses are no problem, big taxis are no problem; it’s having rush-hour numbers of small taxis that causes hardening of the arteries.

High LDL-P

High LDL-P (Mumbai tuk tuk taxis)
(Courtesy Joel Duncan Photography)

The big taxis come from eating animal-based food, by and large.  The tuk-tuks come from eating carbohydrates. Don’t take it from this old man.  Hear a top expert on “It’s not the passengers, it’s the cars”.  You will hear them talk about particles.  Those are particles of LDL: that’s taxis.  LDL particles come as big and fluffy (big taxis) or small and hard (tuk tuks).  When they talk about LDL-P that’s a count of particles: how crowded the road is.  When they mention atherosclerosis, that’s what we non-medical folk call “hardening of the arteries”.

Here’s Dr Tara Dall:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fLuxjQ2s6s

For more information, the “go-to” place is Chris Masterjohn’s http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/, but he’s not the only one.  The good folks at http://coconutoil.com/ are also talking about it: “Putting The Myth To Rest: There Is No Such Thing As Bad Cholesterol“.

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