The Low Down on Cholesterol

updating imageAs many of you probably read Tony Gentilcore’s scathing blog post the other day on eggs, cholesterol and why the cashier’s at Trader Joe’s suck, I am going to continue in the “cholesterol from your diet raises your blood cholesterol and causes heart disease theme.”

I just finished reading Dr. Jonny Bowden’s revised new edition of Living Low Carb. It is an excellent book that covers a lot of reasons why reducing carb intake, and improving carb sources, will go a long way to maximizing your health. He also busts some myths, gives supplement advice, and analyzes popular low-carb diets (he gave Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, a friend and colleague of mine, the top recommendation for her wonderful book Women’s Health Perfect Body Diet).

In Living Low Carb Dr. Bowden throws out some awesome information that really helps to show why the intense focus on saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease is misguided. Today we are going to focus more on the dietary cholesterol side of things.

He references the enormous and long-term Framingham Heart Study, one of the largest studies ever undertaken to prove the point.

This data clearly shows, from hundreds of thousands of people, that on average, dietary cholesterol intake had no impact on blood levels of cholesterol. People who ate below the average amount of cholesterol or above it had equal blood cholesterol levels. The body has a negative feedback system. When we consume more cholesterol, we produce less (granted there are people who’s system is broken, but they are the exception, not the rule).

We also have some similar info from another large-scale long-term study, the Tecumseh study.

Oddly enough, or probably not so odd, people in the upper 33% of blood cholesterol levels had the lowest cholesterol intake from their diet, showing yet again that dietary cholesterol intake has little to no impact on blood cholesterol levels.

Even Ancel Keys, the misguided creator of all this saturated fat/cholesterol causes heart disease nonsense, stated, in 1991 no less, “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in blood and we’ve known that all along. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t matter unless you happen to be a chicken or a rabbit.”

Well that statement was only 40 years late and after we had become a nation obsessed with the wrong data, but we seem to finally to heading in the right direction.

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About Brian St. Pierre 6 Articles

Brian is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and received his Bachelor’s in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Maine, where he also received his Master’s in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN) as well as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Brian worked for three years at Cressey Sports Performance as the head Sports Nutritionist and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, working with hundreds of athletes and recreational exercisers of all types. During this time, he also authored the High Performance Handbook Nutrition Guide, Show and Go Nutrition Guide, Ultimate Hockey Nutrition, Ultimate Hockey Transformation Nutrition, and dozens of articles for publication.

Nowadays, Brian is the Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition, working with a host of professional sports teams including the San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Browns, and more. He also works closely with Dr. John Berardi as a nutrition educator at Precision Nutrition, writing articles, presenting at seminars, and educating other fitness professionals as part of PN’s Certification courses.

Brian is a regular contributor to the Precision Nutrition blog, and has been featured in Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Q Magazine, STACK, Testosterone Magazine, and more. He is also regularly featured in many fitness and nutrition podcasts. Check out his published articles.

With his contagious passion and enthusiasm Brian is able to communicate with people of all ages, from a multitude of backgrounds, which has allowed him to work with young student athletes, professional athletes, and working professionals alike. With his obvious passion for seeing his clients succeed, Brian is able to use his knowledge, experience, and energy to create highly effective training and nutrition programs for clients of any age and background. Feel free to contact Brian at

Brian lives with his beautiful wife Anna and their two children, Kate and Will. He resides in Scarborough, Maine.

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