You hear a lot about the dangers of high cholesterol. There’s a lot to dispute about those claims (such as eliminating all fats from your diet). As a direct result of false information, many people are unaware of the necessity of cholesterol for so many functions in your body.
It’s exceedingly rare to hear the dangers of low cholesterol but that’s absolutely something you need to know about for your own health. Not all cholesterol is equal but every cell in your body needs cholesterol to function.
Cholesterol aides in the…
- Manufacture of hormones (cortisone, progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen)
- Production of vitamin D (which affects calcium absorption)
- Digestion of food through production of bile
- Preservation of brain health (25% of your brain is cholesterol)
Your body makes all the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol that it requires. Our modern diet of too much sugar, salt, and saturated (unhealthy) fats drives this particular type of cholesterol above healthy levels and deposits too much in the bloodstream.
Some people naturally make too much LDL and are predisposed to extremely high cholesterol readings, heart disease, and other health issues.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol is necessary to rid your body of too much LDL so it doesn’t build up in your arteries. It’s also blood protective and anti-inflammatory.
No matter the type of cholesterol, your body uses it. We might not understand how all of it works and drugs to artificially lower it (statins) are presenting an entire laundry list of issues in long-term health. Alongside the extensive side effects are how our bodies are struggling without this essential building block.
The Dangers of Low Cholesterol
- Increased risk of cancer
- Anxiety and depression
- Premature birth
More studies are needed to clearly define the connection between low cholesterol and cancer but researchers are already certain that a connection exists.
“There has been some debate as to whether or not medications used to lower cholesterol may contribute to cancer, but the evidence so far tells us that the drugs themselves do not increase the risk of cancer. We wanted to take those medications out of the equation and just look at the link between cancer and low LDL-cholesterol itself in people who had never taken statins or other cholesterol-lowering drugs,” explained Dr. Paul Michael Lavigne with Tufts Medical Center.
One fact is clear. Cancer patients tend to test with far lower cholesterol levels than those without the disease. The connection bears closer examination.
Mental Health and Cholesterol
The more troubling aspect of low cholesterol is in regard to the brain. Your brain is comprised of water, fat, and cholesterol. Depriving it of any of these substances is tantamount to starvation.
One group of researchers with Sveti Ivan Psychiatric Hospital in Zagreb studied the differences of patients with Alzheimer’s and those without.
Those affected by the neurodegenerative disease were proven to have extremely low cholesterol (including LDL). The patients who’d had Alzheimer’s for the longest period of time had the lowest cholesterol readings.
Barcelona, Spain scientists reviewed subjects confined to the Youth Correctional Center. Their conclusions were disturbing.
“Low cholesterol levels are associated and related to different neuropsychiatric disorders. Lowered cholesterol levels seem likely to be linked to higher rates of early death, suicide, aggressive or violent behavior, personality disorders, and possibly depression, dementia, and penal confinement among young males.”
With the hard push to use pharmaceutical drugs to lower cholesterol by force, we may be seeing the very long-term result and it doesn’t look good.
The Truth about Healthy Fats
The bottom line is that your body needs fats. The type of fats you consume is very important to your overall body health. They provide sustained energy, mental clarity, insulate organs, and keep your cells structurally sound.
Eating the right healthy fats in moderation is the key that’s been missing to the low-fat craze. Cutting out all fats starves your cells (especially your brain) and makes your cholesterol drop into dangerously unhealthy levels. Eating too much of the wrong fats gives your body nothing positive and puts a strain on your heart.
Finding the balance starts with diet.
- Oils made from coconuts, olives, and avocados
- Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna
- Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and cilantro
- Nuts and seeds
- Unsweetened cacao and dark chocolate (70% cacao)
Cholesterol is necessary to human health. You need to guard against the foods that raise your LDL but you cannot live without it.
If you have unusually low cholesterol levels, it may also be a sign of another issue such as an overactive thyroid, issues with your liver, malnutrition, or poor nutrient absorption.
Talk to your doctor about your personal lipid profile and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
Dr. Joseph Mercola: Why Low Cholesterol Is Not Good For You
Healthline: Can My Cholesterol Be Too Low?
Healthline: The Benefits of Cholesterol and How to Increase HDL Levels
National Center for Biotechnology Information: Relation between cholesterol levels and neuropsychiatric disorders
Dr. David Perlmutter MD: Your Brain Needs Cholesterol
Science Daily: Low LDL cholesterol is related to cancer risk
National Center for Biotechnology Information: Serum lipid levels in patients with Alzheimer’s disease