Smorgasbord Health Column – Cholesterol – Part One – An essential substance our bodies need by Sally Cronin

health column final


In the last few weeks I have been looking at two of the major organs in the body. The brain and the heart. There has been a focus in the last 10 years on reducing heart disease and the first line for that focus has been reducing cholesterol. In fact one of the suggestions made by the health service is that all men over 50 and many women should be put on Statins to reduce not just the unhealthy cholesterol but the healthy kind.

As you will see in this post.. that would appear to be rather extreme considering the role that cholesterol plays in the body.

Cholesterol – An essential substance our bodies need

I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen.

I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones, including the sterol Vitamin D, (thinks it’s a hormone), that keeps me happy in the winter and free of colds and flu, and my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood.

And others such as cortisol, there when I need it, and DHEA, very important for my bone density now I am in my 60’s, as well as helping keeping me young and remembering what happened yesterday.

I was grateful for my progesterone in my younger days that kept my periods more or less regular, and for the oestrogen that developed me into the woman I was and remain today.

I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight, will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70’s and 80’s. Also help to prevent the development of dementia, and keeping me active until a ripe old age.

Sound flippant? A little yes, but not so flippant as the suggestion that everyone over the age of 50, whatever their current cholesterol readings should be given Statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. My opinion is that the NHS has given up trying to educate its clients into adopting a healthier diet and exercising. Instead it is going with the mass medication option, because they say it will prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia down the line.

Quite frankly, they are terrified – they have an aging population- who are going to be more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, and dementia simply because the natural process is deterioration. However, without the protection of healthy forms of cholesterol many functions in the body are compromised including brain health and our sex drive.

What is ‘flippantly’ ignored is that cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and well-being. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues, and of course then, medication may be the right decision, but it should never be something that is given to all.

There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that we can all make to make sure that the cholesterol in our bodies is getting on with its job and not causing us health problems, but before I move onto the solutions, I would like to spend a little exploring the reasons for the interactions that are taking place in the body and resulting in clogged arteries.

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein – because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol, we refer to high density lipoprotein, and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly, but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles, the more you are likely to develop coronary disease, than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque, whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.

In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities, including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat, as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.

Next week.. the myths about fats and foods that are said to cause high cholesterol in our bloodstream.

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©Sally Cronin Just Food For Health 1999 – 2018

As always delighted to get your feedback and questions. This is not intended to take the place of your doctor’s presence in your life. But, certainly in the UK, where you are allocated ten minutes for a consultation and time is of the essence; going in with some understanding of how your body works and is currently functioning can assist in making a correct diagnosis. Some doctors believe that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I believe that understanding our bodies, how it works, how we can help prevent health problems and knowing the language that doctors speak, makes a difference.  Taking responsibility for our bodies health is the first step to staying well.

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share.

20 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Cholesterol – Part One – An essential substance our bodies need by Sally Cronin

  1. Today’s traditional lipid panel offers little value. An individual may have a “high” HDL number but these same HDL’s may lack FUNCTION. Size and particle density for both HDL and LDL play a greater role in determining CV risk. Don’t you wonder when today’s traditional health practice will catch up with today’s scientific knowledge and CHOOSE to offer quality evaluation and treatments rather than blindly following outdated testing and treatment protocols?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As you say we need much better evaluation of patients from the outset to prevent a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Unfortunately time is not allocated nor are the personnel at the front end, to ensure that the GP has a facts before him to make the best use of the ten minutes he has with the patient.

      I am accustomed to spending at least an hour with a client completing a very comprehensive questionnaire on diet, lifestyle, stress factors, previous medical history etc. And that is just to design a tailor made eating programme.

      I love it when clients bring their test results as it gives us a starting point and weight, BP, Blood Sugar, Cholesterol etc are measurable and they also offer an opportunity to set targets. I am disappointed that more surgeries do not have nutritionists on staff who work one to one with the patients who need it. I am still convinced after all these years that a more holistic approach to treatment is the best option. Particularly when used before the prescribing of drugs such as statins.

      Anyway… with more and more pressure being put on the health services, it is unlikely that will happen any time soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s really up to the consumer (to a large degree.) Information and knowledge certainly hasn’t been enough to convince them how important a role they play in their outcome. They still believe the physician is the “driver of health.” In reality, the physician is often the “driver” in maintaining chronic diseases. The physician RARELY (if ever) aims to RESTORE health in chronic conditions; they aim to slow progression? In doing so, their treatment protocols often lead to secondary complications resulting in reduced quality and function in life.

        The consumer simply isn’t willing to accept the level of responsibility needed to become healthy and maintain healthy function. If we don’t begin the LEARNING process in the early years of life, it becomes exceedingly difficult to alter paths driven by addictive behaviors.

        One must question why the educational system is unwilling to accept greater responsibility in addressing this problem.

        Liked by 1 person

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  3. Great sharing of important information, Sally. I was told two years ago I had high cholesterol and of course, the doctor wanted to put me on Lipitor. I refused, asking to be allowed to treat it naturally. She huffed about it, but what could she do? It is my body. I eat healthy, avoid processed foods and drink lots of water and couldn’t see many ways to change my diet. So, I began a regime of garlic, flaxseed oil and Tumeric every morning before I take in any food. In one year, I lowered my overall cholesterol by 52 points. She was speechless. I loved it. 🙂 So, here’s what I do. I chop a clove of garlic and swallow it with water as if it were a capsule. Then, I take 1 TBSP of Flaxseed oil and swallow a capsule of Tumeric with Curcumin. It works! The proof is in the pudding.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is fantastic Jan.. well done. Certainly the garlic and turmeric are staples in our diet. Turmeric is excellent because it encourages the release of bile from the gallbladder by causing it to contract. This helps digest the fat in foods more efficiently and can help prevent gallstones from forming. Unfortunately not good for anyone who already has gallbladder stones or a calcified gallbladder as it can cause problems so they need to take things easy, especially with concentrated supplements. We also use avocado oil drizzled on vegetables and salads and a great way to get healthy fats.. Fantastic job… I hope your doctor passed that on to other patients. hugsxx


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