by Dr. John Briffa
The Cholesterol Truth


I regularly lecture in front of groups, and I’m usually emphasising the value of good nutrition and what this actually means. I believe in eating a natural, unprocessed diet comprised mainly of foods that have been in the human diet the longest including meat (yes, even red meat), fish, eggs, nuts, fruits and vegetables. We’ve become, generally, fat-phobic over the last 30 years, particularly with regards to saturated fat. The fact that I advocate a diet that is richer in saturated fat than is traditionally advised can look somewhat out of step with conventional ‘wisdom’. One thing that practically everyone seems to know about saturated fat is that is raises cholesterol levels. My reaction to this is, so what? This attitude may sound blasé, but it’s actually based on a fundamental principle: the impact a foodstuff has on cholesterol is not the important thing, it’s the impact it has on health that counts.

Our focus on cholesterol levels has allowed many drugs and food products to be marketed on the basis of their cholesterol-reducing properties, in the absence of any evidence that they actually, say, reduce the risk of heart disease or death. Classic examples of this include foods laced with cholesterol-reducing compounds known as ‘sterols’, and the drug ezetimibe. I’ve written about both of these things more than once on this site.

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