So here’s a little known fact that we’ve been meaning to write about for quite some time – cholesterol may not actually be bad for you.
And we’re not just talking about “good” HDL cholesterol. We’re talking about total cholesterol, which is actually a composite of high density lipoproteins (HDL or “good cholesterol”), low density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad cholesterol”), and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL).
This may sound controversial to many of you, but that’s only because the whole “high cholesterol leads to heart disease” thing is such an accepted fact in American society today. (And I say “American” because the fixation with cholesterol is a uniquely American thing.)
But when you actually dig into all the research that has been done in this area, it turns out that the link between cholesterol and heart disease is really quite weak. One thing is for certain – it isn’t nearly as strong as the food and pharmaceutical industries have made it out to be over the last several decades.
How can we suggest such a blasphemous thing?
Because we’ve been reading up on the works of authors who have actually read through all the research. The book that opened our eyes to this perspective is a fantastic book called Real Food. The author, Nina Planck, devotes an entire chapter to a thorough discussion of how cholesterol has been wrongly vilified for decades. In fact, entire books have been written about the so-called “cholesterol myth,” and the best known such book is appropriately titled The Cholesterol Myths. We haven’t read this one yet, but we’ll be reading the updated version soon.
And this brings us to the point of this post – we’re not sure exactly what our “official view” on cholesterol is at the moment, but we’re going to be doing a deep dive into the research over the next several weeks to figure that out.
Based on what we know now, our view favors the one espoused by Nina Planck in Real Food, which suggests that the substance that is most directly responsible for increased heart disease is not cholesterol, but an amino acid called homocysteine. We’re guessing you haven’t heard this name before, and neither had we, until we read Real Food. But learning about it completely changed our perspective on cholesterol – we went from fully accepting that cholesterol is bad for heart health to seriously questioning whether cholesterol is bad for you at all.
So we’re going to be figuring this out over the next several weeks (as much as it can be figured out), and we invite you all to come along for the ride.
In fact, we’d love it if you’d help us out with this. What are your views on cholesterol? Have you read any books or studies that make a compelling case either way? We’d love to hear about them. And we’d love to hear from you, to the extent you have an opinion.
We’re still very much open to both perspectives, and we’ll continue to be open to new studies that make a compelling case either way. But at the end of this deep dive, we do intend to have an opinion because that’s our job – to make sense of all the competing claims, come up with a view, and then reflect it in our menu. This way, you guys can feel good about the food you’re eating at Dig Inn.