What about the “cholesterol myth”?

I would love to see more debate with regard to…cholesterol/saturated fat proponents (Gary Taubes, for example). I don’t know how many times people have recommended I read Taubes books….Just look at the reviews on Amazon for Johnny Bowden’s The Great Cholesterol Myth!

Synergy / Originally Posted in Does Coconut Oil Clog Arteries?


I wrote about the cholesterol “skeptics” in my book Carbophobia (now available free, full text online).

I think the issue was best summarized in a medical journal editorial entitled Cholesterol Myth Club on Par with Flat Earth Society that read: “as mixed up as Flat Earth Society members obviously are, at least you can laugh their dumb idea off, and if you want to believe the Earth is flat, this view is not going to cause serious problems like… coronary artery disease.”

image credit: Grahams Child via Wikimedia Commons


Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.

110 responses to “What about the “cholesterol myth”?

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    1. I recommend the “Plant Positive” YouTube channel for more evidence-based video rebuttal of Taubes et. al. than most may have patience for.

      1. That was amazing. thank you for sharing. I was not aware that there is not a single peer reviewed, published study for the atkins diet. That explains quite a bit.

            1. This actually might be the only such study published (anyone correct me if I’m wrong; it’s the only one I know of). First off, it’s not the kind of research Ornish was saying we’d need here; this study is all about temporary biomarkers, weight loss, etc. not about sustained, long-term health. Secondly, this study has been highly criticized for not getting participants to follow Ornish’s actual diet, which recommends somewhere around 10% calories from fat. Participants said to be following an Ornish diet in this study were eating around 30% calories from fat, including liberal use of oil.

      2. Taubes is just too condescending and uneducated to listen to. They are wasting their time with him. It would be more interesting if they had a real conversation with someone who had solid education and held a different vuew… and there is the rub. The people (95%) who are educated and do real research don’t disagree with the Ornish, McDougall, Novick, Gregers of the world.

        1. So true. I do find that those who aren’t that much into veganism give half-hearted praise to Dr. Greger and company. You may find this short essay by Dr. Joe Schwarcz to be an interesting example of a Greger critique.

  1. i would like to know how to gain weight on a vegan diet.Since 3 months i skipped dairy/meat products,but lost 7 kilo’s,wich i cant afford to lose.My hight is 1.63 cm and my weight went from 52 kilos to 48,wich makes my BMI 18(too little for my seize)

    1. Hey, check out vegan bodybuilding sites. veganbodybuilding . com and veganmusleandfitness . com are good places to start. From what I understand when you switch to a nutrient dense whole foods diet, initially everyone will lose weight. The more toxic you are the more weight you will lose, as fat is used by the body to remove and store toxins. So your weight should stabilise to a healthy weight.

  2. I have a question for Dr greger:

    Can you tell more about dark circles under eyes.
    I have had them since a very long time, from the beginning of my teens actually. Its not like dark dark, but more like a blue , and you can also see a little bit of blue veins.

    1. Hi Ann,

      I see that this is an old comment but I would like to respond anyway. I have always had hereditary dark circles (as opposed to fatigue or illness-induced ones), as it sounds like you do too. I know how incredibly frustrating they are!

      Over the years I tried all the topical products and nothing worked. I do not believe there are any products in existence that genuinely remedy hereditary dark circles.

      However, since switching to a nutrient dense WFPB diet, and consequently consuming massive amounts of well, most vitamins, but particularly vitamin K (lots of kale and berries), I do think there has been a very gradual but significant improvement. I still wear undereye concealer every day, but not as much. I used to wear three separate layers, now I wear two (concealer plus setting powder). Might not sound like a huge improvement but I remember in years past when I would try to skip one of the three layers and everyone would be so concerned! “Oh, are you okay?” “Are you sick?” Lol! Now when I don’t have concealer on, there are still circles there, but not to a degree in which I could frighten small children. ;)

      p.s. the best concealer I’ve found (and I’ve tried them allll) is also the cheapest, is widely available, and is not tested on animals: glamoflauge by hard candy. Six bucks, can get it at walmart. It’s not perfect, but again, it’s the best I’ve tried. Dark circle sufferers unite!

      1. Is your vitamin D level definitely optimal? Do you have any other symptoms? I created a Dr.Greger friendly short facebook page called Ehlers Danlos Nutrition Support, with extra info about vitamin B12 too.

  3. Yes, Dr. G., would love to have some things to point to when people bring up The Cholesterol Myth. Some of my friends have gently suggested that maybe I’m just seeing the data that confirms my bias. Where do you weigh in on how some are saying that cholesterol is not the problem we once thought it was?

    1. The evidence linking cholesterol intake to arterial disease is pretty solid at this point. We all tend to be guilty of confirmatory bias. It is true that as our understanding has progressed that the focus of the research has shifted to other areas such as the nitrous oxide system. This just shows how the old information about cholesterol fits into our new improved model. This is not controversial… people are entitled to their opinions but not their own facts. Unfortunately to understand the studies requires a degree of understanding of statistics which most folks lack. As the saying goes many folks use statistics like a drunk uses a lamp post…more for support than illumination. Keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org as the science keeps changing.

      1. Thanks Dr. F. I don’t understand all the science stuff most of the time, so I have to base my opinions on the research/writings of people whom I respect and who don’t seem to have ulterior motives. This gets me in to trouble sometimes. :-)

        1. Stick with reliable sources as there is no way to keep up. You are correct alot of ulterior motives… pushing supplements and pseudoscience. The most reliable sources free of ulterior motives are Michael Greger MD, John McDougall MD, PCRM(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), and Jeff Novick RD. Be well and try and stay out of trouble!

      2. I have been vegan for three years and started to see my cholesterol and triglyceride levels start to fall. Still being about 40 pounds overweight, about four months ago I also reduced my fat intake and have lost just over 15 pounds. My blood work just came in and my cholesterol has shot up to its highest level ever. What’s that about?

        1. What constitutes your vegan diet? Are you consuming processed white flours? Do you consume free oils? These are important points as one needs to eat minimally processed plant foods to reach optimal health goals.

          1. Right now I am using the Happy Herbivore food plans. I will need to look through the site to determine what makes up a free oil. My consumption of oils like olive oil etc. are almost non-existent. I make my own vegetable stock and use that for all sauté and stir fry.
            She does depend some on canned items, but for the most part I make foods from scratch. Her plans are higher in carbs than I ate previously, but not what I think is a lot of processed flours. There is some use of corn tortillas, or whole wheat tortillas.

            1. Happy Herbivore is a good stepping stone, but still tends to be higher in salt and added sugars compared with forks over knives recipes.

              If you exercise regularly, eat minimally processed plant foods, get plenty of leefy greens and fruits in your diet and limit your consumption of added sugars, added fat and added salt, you should find that your cholesterol numbers will drop. Do you exercise regularly?

              1. I probably do OK on the salt as I don’t add any, and cook some items from scratch. Sugar maybe not so much.
                Have stuff going at work right now that has meant working very long hours – I’ve actually dropped nearly all exercise since September. I was actually online yesterday trying to find a couple of classes that could be outside of all of the hours I am working. Will stress drive up total cholesterol?

        2. Mostly vegan for a year, mostly vegetarian for about 9 years. For the past year no flours at all, no foods with added sugar, fats mostly consist of nuts, chia seeds, flax meal, avocado, and a little avocado oil or olive oil. My triglycerides have gone up and so has my total cholesterol, although HDLs went up and LDLs went down, VLDLs went up. My total cholesterol is the highest it has ever been, although the ratios are very good. I Lost 20 pounds in the past year and am at BMI 18 and trying to hold steady. When I googled triglycerides going up I found reference to active weight loss causing temporary increases in cholesterol and triglycerides as fat is burned away. Could weight loss be causing elevations in cholesterol or triglycerides? I hope it isn’t the fruit . . . :(

        3. Naturehike, when you burn your own fat, your cholesterol readings can indicate as such. Your body is ‘eating’ the fat stored on it, so naturally it is as if you are eating animal fat, especially if you got fat on animal fat to begin with. This is what can account for cholesterol readings during initial weight loss. The fat you’re burning is the fat you ate initially…Makes sense, eh? After your initial weight loss, the numbers will drop.

        4. My guess: your test caught you in a post-loss-bounce combined with less-active/high job-stress period. All it takes is a week or two getting happy for the numbers to show it.

        5. Iodine deficiency can affect the thyroid and cause cholesterol to go up. Many are deficient due to industrial halogens in the environment. Like flouride in water and bromide flame retardants in furniture. Iodineresearch.com

      3. “The evidence linking cholesterol intake to arterial disease is pretty solid at this point.”

        Which study/studies shows that dietary cholesterol contributes to CVD?

  4. wtf man u go on here looking for advise from these educated doctors and they cant agree on anything?????? so my question is an answer if one says vagan and another says meat maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle? but if all meat is bad cuz of the studys then all fruit is bad too.. what clots your arteries?? meat or sugar? or both? if i ate meat and sat around on my fat ass i am sure i would get clot same with fruits.. what do u think doc?

    1. Most of the physicians who are knowledgable about the role of nutrition in avoiding disease and disability agree 95% of the time. The science does keep changing however it keeps building to support the following paradigm or belief. Anatomically and physiologically we are “hind gut fermenting herbivores”. Eating meat, dairy and eggs even if they do not contain persistent organic pollutants (e.g. dioxin, pesticides) and chemicals such as mercury and arsenic is not healthy unless to avoid starvation. Fruit is fine in limited quantities. We burn glucose as our primary fuel so starches (e.g. potatoes, rice, whole grains) should be our main food. Fructose in fruits or added to sodas is only metabolized in the liver to triglycerides, uric acid, inflammatory aldehydes and cholesterol. Some does get converted to glucose but that the amount and thresholds for these are still being worked out. I would stay tuned to nutritionfacts.org as the science is changing. Other reputable commercial free information can be found on the John McDougall MD website and the PCRM website. You mentioned exercise which is certainly important but nutrition is probably 80%, exercise 15% and 5% other. At any rate.. my opinion based on the current science. I am open to change as the science changes.

        1. I think moderate fruit consumption is fine. I would avoid the concentrated processed sugars although used in limited amounts you are most likely okay. There may be certain patients with fructose malabsorption syndrome or elevated cholesterol that would need to decrease consumption of fruits. The current pharmacokinetics of how the body handles fructose suggests that up to four servings a day should be fine but more research would be useful.

  5. Dr. Greger,
    Six months ago I was facing yet another stenting ‘procedure’, after a heart attack, Quad-bypass, two stenting procedures (5 stents total). I was suffering, intensely, from every side effect that comes with statin drugs including dementia and muscle wasting and cramping, popping Nitro like candy just to get through the day, 30 pounds overweight, and, in candor, mentally getting my final business in order.

    At the same time, I chose to stop statin drugs and become an Uber-Vegan. This decision was after extensive research and information gathering about statin drugs and ways to live without them. Operative word here is LIVE – not exist. The information that you have offered, along with several others, was instrumental for an educated decision to take my sojourn into a new life.

    My status today, at 64; I am off all medications except for nutraceuticals, my cholesterol is 155, results of my latest Nuclear stress test shows no indications of blockages, 34 pounds lighter – from 192lbs to 158lbs (from a snug 38″ waist to a comfortable 30″), briskly walking 3+ miles a day, mentally sharp, and looking forward to a longer and healthier life.

    Wishing to share this option to others in my predicament, I am working on a project in which your information would be important to reference.

    If you would, Doctor, please PM me at ronzet@hotmail.com to let me know if it is possible and if you would be willing to discuss this project with me.
    At your service,
    Ron Z

    1. What an incredible story! Congratulations! p.s. I love your username! I’ve often thought about taking up the cello and as an old dog learning new tricks would no doubt be a “bad cellist”. I think it’s such a beautiful instrument. Cheers.

  6. Hi Doctor… I eat 4 egg whites every morning (no yolk at all). Is this still bad for me ? I believe there is no cholesterol at least in egg whites. Is there anything else I should be aware of ? It would be great if you did a video of this, many people have stopped eating yolks and feel safe with the whites, hope we aren’t wrong.


    1. There are lots of problems with eggs in addition to the IGF-1, like the choline. Just go to the top of any page on this site and type, “egg” in the search box. Then watch a few videos for a sense of the problems and risks.

  7. Dr. Gregor. Would you be able to comment on the recent article about Saturated Fats that was published in the British Medical Journal on Oct. 22, 2013. I would love to know your perspective on what he says. Thanks. Pete Greider. Here’s the link: “Saturated fat is not the major issue.” BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6340 (Published 22 October 2013)Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6340

    1. I will share with you what I have shared elsewhere on this site regarding this myth.

      “Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease”


      This Meta-analysis looked at 21 different studies, and came to the conclusion that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD [heart disease].”

      Shared by Jeff Novick:

      One major problem with this study is they did not look at any studies where the saturated fat intake was less than 7%, which is the level recommended by the American Heart Association. Most of the diets had saturated fat intakes in the range of 10-15% (or more).

      So, just like the studies that criticize “low fat” diets, but never analyze any diet that is truly low fat and based on the principles of low fat, high fiber, whole plant foods, this study criticizes the impact of lowering saturated fat, but never looked at any diet that truly lowered saturated fat to the level recommended.

      Another problem with the study is what the subjects replaced the saturated fat with when comparing the 2. For many, if not most, it was with either (or products containing) hydrogenated/trans fat, while flour, white sugar and/or mono fats.

      People who replaced saturated fat in their diet with polyunsaturated fat (omega 3/6) reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by 19 percent, compared with control groups of people who do not.


      Lastly, studies on all-cause mortality trumps findings for subsets such as CHD and CVD. Most all-cause studies demonstrate a direct relation between saturated fat intake and all-cause mortality and the lower the better. Here is a list of studies showing just this.

      “the results of this study support earlier observations that dietary intakes low in SF or high in FV [fruits and vegetables] each offer protection against CHD mortality. In addition, however, our data suggest that the combination of both high FV with relatively low SF intake offers greater protection against both total and CHD mortality than either practice alone.”


      “The major finding of the present study is that the average population intake of saturated fat and vitamin C and the prevalence of smokers are major determinants of all-cause mortality rates. Saturated fat and smoking are detrimental, but vitamin C seems to be protective in relation to the health of populations…The potential effect of changes in saturated fat, vitamin C and the prevalence of smokers can be illustrated as follows. A change in saturated fat of 5% of energy is associated with a 4.7% change in age-adjusted all-cause mortality rate (Table 3).”


      “A high RRR pattern score, which was associated with high intake of fat and protein and low intake of carbohydrates, increased the risk of death. Subjects with a pattern score belonging to the highest quintile obtained on average 37·2 % of their energy from fat and 37·6 % from carbohydrates and thus did not meet current dietary recommendations (Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2002). Food groups that contributed to this unfavourable pattern of energy sources were red meat, poultry, processed meat, butter, sauces and eggs, whereas a high intake of bread and fruits decreased the pattern score.”


      From the National Academy of Science:

      “Saturated fatty acids are synthesized by the body to provide an adequate level needed for their physiological and structural functions; they have no known role in preventing chronic diseases. Therefore, neither an AI nor RDA is set for saturated fatty acids. There is a positive linear trend between total saturated fatty acid intake and total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol concentration and increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A UL is not set for saturated fatty acids because any incremental increase in saturated fatty acid intake increases CHD risk”


      “The saturated fatty acids, in contrast to cis mono or polyunsaturated fatty acids, have a unique property in that they suppress the expression of LDL receptors (Spady et al., 1993). Through this action, dietary saturated fatty acids raise serum LDL cholesterol concentrations (Mustad et al., 1997).”


      From the editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology.

      “As shown in Figure 1, most of the risk factors do not in themselves cause atherosclerosis [heart disease]…The atherosclerotic risk factors showing that the only factor required to cause atherosclerosis is cholesterol.”


  8. ABC Catalyst recent documentary “Hearth of the matter” http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/heartofthematter/ made a strong statement interviewing many doctors who think that the association between high colesterol and hearth disease is uncertain, to say the least. I think you should address this claims with scientific rigor and not just dismiss them as the matter is really important. Thank you

  9. My wife works out 2 hours per day and has been doing wonderfully on the 100% Vegan for about a year and her health has improved along with her blood numbers. With my energy levels low would there be foods you might suggest I get back into to repair what you outlined as missing (heme iron, taurine, CoQ10, not to mention cholesterol, saturated fat, and protein generally) in your email? I would appreciate it. I’m thinking fish(oil) fresh from the sea or sardines? FYI, just for interest sake this is what I eat each day: Anyone else out there having energy issues with Vegan? Remember guys, a damaged ego is better than death!)

    Everyday starts
    1 Quart of Lemon Water (this has appeared to be very helpful to me)

    6 various fruits per day
    Oatmeal(real oats) with Chia/Millett/Flax/raisins/drop of MS or Agave/ goji berries, hemp hearts(have this about 3-4X’s per week(weekends flax bread with PB&J)

    3 pounds of salad made up of broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, red pepper, snow peas, carrots, tomatoes, quinoa, red onion and a drop of homemade dressing(olive oil/lemon)
    or large homemade mushroom or other vege soup

    Cooked various vegan cookbook fair with lots of veges

    Homemade ginger cookies or banana bread or fruit

    I figure if you saw what I eat maybe you would have some quick suggestions about ‘what foods’ I’m missing. I sincerely appreciate your thoughts as this is becoming quite frustrating when I have ALWAYS been perfectly healthy and although I only workout 30 minutes per day, have always had stamina!

    PS: For the past 8 years our meals have been similar except we ate ‘fresh from the sea’ no processed varieties of NS fish 4 nites per week.

    Happy New Year. Ross

    1. Ross, find out what your vitamin D level is exactly. Also, see my Dr.Greger friendly facebook page called Ehlers Danlos Nutrition Support (extra info in B12).

  10. Dear Dr,
    I am still confused about the cholesterol myth. After reading the book I am convinced that cholesterol does not cause heart disease and it’s more of an inflammatory response which drives the disease. I have read your posts on the Atkins diet as well. If we all ate a low sugar diet (which causes lots of inflammation) ate predominantly vegetables and a little bit of meat and animal products, would that be the best option for optimal health? It’s difficult to get my head around with so much conflicting evidence! Clients always ask me about this and I just wanted to clarify. Thanks so much, I love your website! (you saved me a lot of research whilst I was in uni!)
    Kind Regards,

    1. “I am convinced that cholesterol does not cause heart disease” –

      Thats too bad because the “inflammation – sugar” myth/lies has been debunked. How much of your beliefs about Cholesterol take this below video into consideration? Make no mistake about it. Dietary Cholesterol is bad for our health. Have a look.



  11. Dr. Greger, I appreciate your work on this site. It has helped me eat more plant-based.

    But this post is seriously lacking, especially for anyone who is trying make informed decisions.

    The premise behind “The Great Cholesterol Myth” is that dietary cholesterol has little to no influence on blood cholesterol, and therefore dietary cholesterol cannot be blamed for CVD.

    The sources in your “Carbophobia” book, and the medical journal editorial entitled “Cholesterol Myth Club on Par with Flat Earth Society” do not show that dietary cholesterol causes CVD, or raises blood cholesterol to significantly increase CVD.

    What are your real thoughts on this?

    1. That article bases alot of its points around the “fluffy LDL” particle myth. Dr Greger addresses this in his video below. I would not trust opinion blog posts like this to give you the real scoop on health. These type of trendy online zines are notorious for this type of sensationalistic misinformation as click-bait.

      Dr G talks about the “fluffy LDL” myth here.


  12. I’ve been searching for a study that demonstrates eggs raise LDL cholesterol levels but have not yet found one. Most of what I read indicates eggs only raise cholesterol in “hyper responders,” who make up 30-40% of the population. Can anybody provide insight into this?

    1. There are many, many studies showing that consuming dietary cholesterol raises LDL levels. There’s certainly nothing special about eggs to make them an exception to the rule. Try searching “eggs” in the search field, then open the citations under various videos. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of studies that show eggs raise cholesterol.

  13. Maybe you should check out “The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease – “Saturated fat does not cause heart disease”— concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.The dubious science behind the anti-fat crusade”http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303678404579533760760481486?mod=WSJ_hp_RightTopStories&mg=reno64-wsj

    1. But look who wrote the article, Nina Teicholz. She is one of the most notorious non accredited opinion bloggers around. She is nothing more than a health hobbyist and armature writer. Not someone I would trust my health to. She also has a for-profit book out that is based on giving saturated fat and cholesterol a free pass, and lets face it, any book telling you bacon and butter are good for you is going to sell a lot of books regardless weather it’s true or not. Nina knows this and is trying to profit from the public’s confusion. She is no more qualified to write on the subject than an bro-science jock at the gym. It’s people like her and others who jump on the “Cholesterol deniers” bandwagon that are causing the confusion. There is no confusion if you take the profit motive out of the equation.

  14. When I click on the link above “Cholesterol Myth Club on Par with Flat Earth Society” it takes me to the publication but it only shows the title. There is nothing there to read. Any suggestions?

    1. Lawrence: Dr. Greger does his best to provide full references and *when possible,* links to the actual studies or editorials. However, many times it is just not possible to link to the full text of the study because those studies/papers are available only to paying subscribers of the related journal.

      Some ideas: Sometimes local libraries, especially university libraries have subscriptions to those journals. You might try there. If you were really gung-ho to read an article, *I think* some publications have some short-term or single-study access rates. Other than that, I’m not sure what else you could do other than paying for a full subscription to the journal. Other people may have better ideas than me.

      Personally, I would like to see journal’s supported in some way that makes their content fully available for free to the public. But no one asked me.

  15. I am sorry to read about flat earth. Seems like you are not taking science into serious consideration. As a Dane I am aware of the Danish researcher and professor Uffe Ravnskov, ph.D.. He worked on cholesterol myth in more than 20 years. Please See his results on: http://www.ravnskov.nu/cholesterol
    Also the distinguised double Nobel Prize Winner: Linus Pauling has stated that the cholesterol plays a minor roll. It is the Lp(a) which parcitipates in giving CVD. Refer to his studies also with Dr. Rath and Pauling. But apart from that I honour your very serious and Scientific based results here on this website. Best Regards Michael Frank , Denmark.

    1. Ravnskov is part of the problem we are seeing with bought and paid for puppets. He is the founder of a “Cholesterol deniers” organization called THINCS. THINCS mission staetment states “to denounce that animal fat and protein are harmful”. He is not to be trusted and his THINCS organization is backed by dark money from the animal products industry. I would advice you to stop listening to people like him and start looking at the REAL science Dr Greger presents here showing saturated fat and cholesterol to be harmful and damaging to the endothelial lining of our arteries. Far too many people have been bought or duped by the “inflammation myth” and ignore the dangers of a diet high in animal foods loaded with artery damaging saturated fat and cholesterol.

    1. I have familial hypercholesterolemia and I’m wondering the same thing. Have you found Dr. Greger’s answer to this question? If so, I would love to know what it is.

      1. Hi Terry, I am one of the site moderators. There are several genetic types of familial hypercholesterolemia, some of them cause people to make enormous amounts of cholesterol which can only be lowered by medical interventions including drugs and at times filtering of the blood via apheresis. If you have tried a very low fat diet on the order of Dean Ornish, Caldwell Esselstyn or John McDougall then you may have done as much nutritional intervention possible and medical intervention is your best bet to reduce your risk for disease. I hope this clarifies things.

  16. I would like to ask Dr Greger on how to increase testosterone production without(or very low) saturated fat/cholesterol. Everywhere I research it seems to be the general consensus that to increase testosterone production (along with better sleep, more zinc/magnesium/vitamin D and such) it really starts with building the testosterone from cholesterol/saturated fats. Is there any way to increase testosterone levels while limiting/replacing cholesterol(or at least balance its negative effects with something else).

    Thank you for any clarity/information on the subject !

    1. I believe your logic is fundamentally flawed. The idea that you have to eat cholesterol to increase testosterone is nothing more than “bro-science”. The body makes all the cholesterol you will even need to produce testosterone. Why not switch to plant based protein like beans and lentils and save your arteries? You get all the benefit but none of the damage caused by cholesterol and sat fat.

  17. Just read the comments on “the cholesterol myth”. A little clarification please. Studying for my diplomate in clinical nutrition we review the importance of various chemical substrates in the overall production of many essential organic materials. If I try to eliminate cholesterol from my diet how am I suposed to produce vitamin D endogenously?

  18. Attacking the intelligence of someone on the other side of an issue rather than addressing the issue is at best unhelpful. If you don’t have a real answer, just say so.

  19. I can’t seem to find a copy of “cholesterol myth club on par with flat earth society.” anywhere. PubMed has it but won’t let me even look at it.

  20. One of top missions has been to educate people on real cause of heart disease and it’s not a cholesterol issue as we’ve been let to believe for so many years.Coronary inflammation is the major predictor of heart disease. To predict heart disease risk it is necessary to run the tests for markers of inflammation. For a closer look on the truth of cholesterol you can refer to http://www.drsinatra.com/the-great-cholesterol-myth

    1. I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you. I admire your enthusiasm for truth but you seem to have been duped by the “Inflammation and sugar myth” that is making its rounds on the internet with the express intent to confuse the public about the dangers of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol, mostly found in animal foods like meat, eggs and dairy.

      Dr Sinatra is a typical “Cholesterol denier” who simply ignores the data and studies Dr G presents. Sinatra does this because he has an agenda and is beholden to the meat, eggs and dairy industry. I would not trust him or his work as there is a profit motive that takes precedence over good science like what Dr G presents.

      Here are a few videos that show how misguided and dangerous Dr Sinatra “Cholesterol denial-ism” is.




      The last video speaks directly to professionals like Dr Sinatra who have been bought and paid for by the meat, eggs, and dairy industry.

  21. I think that high cholesterol is not the major cause of heart disease. According to research, the true cause of heart disease is inflammation. Chronic inflammation is the major predictor of coronary artery disease and in order to prevent this inflammation Dr. Jonny Bowden, an author of the Great Cholesterol Myth, is an excellent resource on how to debunk this myth. He had developed a 7-Point Program for preventing heart disease. To learn more go here http://jonnybowden.com/my-7-point-program-for-preventing-heart-disease/

    1. Enid: The science/evidence explaining what causes heart disease is very strong and very clear. The people who promote cholesterol denialism are very persuasive and often trick for those who are not aware. It is easy to understand why so many people fall victim to it. If you would like to learn about the many flaws behind the arguments proposed by Dr. Jonny Bowden and other cholesterol confusionists, you can start on this site.

      If you want to get at the nitty gritty focusing solely on the holes in cholesterol denialism, check out Plant Positive. Here are some videos that mention Jonny Bowden:

      Here is a whole series of videos addressing the serious logic flaws and deliberate lies behind cholesterol denialism:

      It’s a lot to get through. But worth it.

    2. The “inflammation Myth” has already been debunked. When we reduce saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet, our arteries can clean out and repair.

      This has been proven by both Ornish and Esselstyn. Many people who buy into the “cholesterol myth” and eat high fat diets are having heart attacks now. It’s a “trendy lie” making its rounds on the blog-o-sphere that dietary cholesterol and sat fat does not cause plaque build up in our arteries. It most certainly does and quack Bowdens “7 point race to a heart attack” is dangerous pseudoscience.

      Lipotoxicity is the mechanism ignored by cholesterol apologists like the quack Bowden. Have a look.


      I would advise you to re-think your views on cholesterol and sat fat being harmless. It just might save your life as plaque build up from a high fat diet takes time to choke off our arteries making your last years on earth miserable and full of stents and bypasses. No thanks, I’ll stick to Dr Gs advice to eliminate meat, eggs and dairy from my diet.

    1. Saturated fat and cholesterol almost exclusively found in animal products is known to increase serum cholesterol. We have known for decades from a plethora of studies that a direct relationship exist with increasing total cholesterol concentration in the blood and increasing risk of coronary heart disease(CHD) and death. In fact, if one reduces consumption of saturated fat and replaces it with healthier polyunsaturated fat that “would significantly reduce rates of CHD”. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2843598/

      Another observational study followed more than 300,000 subjects for 10 years and the conclusion was similar, replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat helps prevent heart disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19211817

      When regarding any competing hypothesis, especially one with such drastic potential outcome such as sudden cardiac death, I tell my patients to employ the precautionary principle. Many excellent studies have shown an association between meat consumption and increased heart disease. I have not found one study that shows a link between vegetable consumption and increased heart disease. For me, I’ll take the safest route and eat only plant foods. Furthermore, as Dr. Greger points out, there is only one diet that has shown in scientific peer reviewed literature, to reverse heart disease and that is a plant based diet. For an excellent review on this subject please see this article by a renowned cardiologist. http://dresselstyn.com/JFP_06307_Article1.pdf

      1. Finally I have found the answer I was looking for. Many thanks for this. I will pass it on to my friend who is reading a cholesterol myth type book.

  22. Dr. Gregor:

    I am having a hard time reconciling your views with this research.


    Limitations for cholesterol will likely be removed from the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans; overconsumption of dietary cholesterol is now cited as being of no concern.

    A recent review of studies investigating the link between dietary fat and causes of death concluded that recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.

    When fat was removed from processed foods, sugar was added in. This has led to a massive increase in obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, even among children.

    1. Dr Mercola is an unapologetic capitalist first and foremost. He sells products for personal gain. That has to be addressed first. He understands that hoping on the “cholesterol myth” bandwagon will bring in the profits from those who want to keep eating fatty foods. Mercola ignores the medical research data that Dr Gs presents much like Charlton Gary Taubes does. I don’t follow Mercola anymore. I wised up to him.

  23. I see that this is an old topic, but unfortunately the flat earth theories are still the ones being published. The most recent publication of Mother Earth Living (Nov/Dec 2015) included the headlined article, “The Great Cholesterol Myth”. Again this is Bowden selling books and apparently killing people like my family who read this magazine. It is published as a new factual – real take on cholesterol. My friends, family and co-workers are bombarded by this type of information in the media. I talk about Pritikin, Ornish, Esselstyn, Campbell and Greger – and one article like this is held up as proof they are incorrect and extreme. I’m not sure what to do about it. I could send a letter to the editor – but I’m not sure I am qualified to point by point offer a healthier alternative. I wish I would see rebuttals printed to these types of articles. Regardless – thanks for all the info and the access to it!

    1. I just found the answer to my own post in the topic “The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail.” If only there was a way to get this information published – or more so.

      1. timn: Yes, it is so frustrating. This information is available and clear. It’s hard to understand why it isn’t more widely known–especially by the medical community.

  24. If I may, I have two non-urgent questions that I have looked for answers to on this website but have not been able to find an answer. The first one had to do with a speech Dr. Gregor gave roughly 10 years ago about a 40 something year old vegan that died of a heart attack. What I got out of it was that a major possible contributor to his death was an omega 6 to 3 ratio much higher than 4:1 and an elevated homocysteine. What I was wondering is if you had seen any evidence of vegans mortality from MI improving once this omega 6 to 3 ratio, and homocysteine level improved?

    The second question is, how does a vegans list of top 10 causes of death compare to there meat eating counterparts?

    Thank you and may you have a wonderful new year. I greatly appreciate the work you and your team does.

    1. There is evidence that vegans live longer – A search on the site for Seventh Day Adventist should hopefully do it.
      There likely hasn’t been funding for a follow up vegan study.
      As far as I know, Dr.Greger was raising awareness of the importance of B12 (which many vegans previously neglected to take according to his B12 videos), plus the importance of avoiding dietary oil (too high in omega 6), plus the importance of including omega 3 rich plant foods, specifically ground, golden flax seeds.

  25. Hey guys! I’ve been a reader and watcher of the site for a while now but wanted to jump in – hope that one of the awesome volunteers may be able to help. I was wondering if anyone could comment on what is stated in this relatively recent article: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cholesterol-u-turn-as-research-shows-fatty-foods-might-not-be-bad-for-us-after-all-10277837.html It states that the US Government and the USDA (whose stats I think Dr. Greger often cites in his videos, correct me if I am wrong) have revoked their standing on cholesterol. Is there any comment on this as it seems like there would have to be a lot of recent research behind a move such as that? Also the links in Dr Greger’s response to the original question seem to out of date, the link to Carbophobia ‘now available free, full text online’ goes to the atkinsexposed.org website; and the Cholesterol Myth Club article links to a study with no actual text – maybe is has been taken down? My apologies if I am being completely clueless! I have recently adopted a whole plant based diet and am trying to get all of my information correct before I recruit family and friends. When they present an article like the one published in Independent I would have no idea what to say, and linking back to this page wouldn’t help seeing it was posted two years before the article came out. All help and clarification most welcome!

    1. Atkinsexposed.org is the web version of Dr Gs book “carbophobia”. I’ll admit the website looks old and amateur and needs to be updated to a more professional look. Also the word “carbophobia” should be prominent on the page someplace. The core data is great, but the website itself needs a new paintjob.

  26. Hi, I understand you have addressed the issue of protein combining but could you also address the issue of food combining. To date, I haven’t found any scientific evidence that addresses all these charts put forth particulary by the raw vegan community that you should eat certain fruits together and not combine high protein foods with high carbohydrate foods. Even doctors like Mercola will say they believe in it with some practical sounding explanation of PH changes in the stomach and digestive times but not cite any scientific studies. Please explain your thoughts and cite studies if you have them!

  27. Dr Geger, have you responded to Nina Teicholz’ book, The Big Fat Surprise? I want to more fully understand how she could make the claims she is making in her book. On a plant based diet I lowered my cholesterol 80 points! Thanks for motivating me. I’m trying to figure all this out, thank for your help!

    1. dangrissom: I would say that this whole site is a response to Nina’s book. Dr. Greger also wrote a book called Carbophobia some years ago that likely is a pre-response to Nina’s book. https://www.amazon.com/Carbophobia-Scary-Truth-Americas-Low-Carb/dp/1590560868 I think it would likely be fair to say that the Dr. Greger’s new book, How Not To Die is also a response to the book. Or response is not quite right. Dr. Greger has laid out the science as he sees it. There’s no need to respond to Nina since the science speaks for itself.
      That said, there are several videos/articles on this site that talk about how studies can (and are!) designed to mislead people, but they still get published. You might think of these videos as a ‘response’ to Nina’s book. I can give you links to those NutritionFacts pages if you are interested.
      What was interesting to me about your post was the wording of this sentence: ” I want to more fully understand how she could make the claims she is making in her book.” I think answers like this apply: People like to hear good news about their bad habits. (Dr. McDougall’s point.) Nina is saying something people want to hear. It doesn’t have to be true. Publishers are happy to publish books people want to buy. Truth and people’s health and well being is irrelevant to many aspects of our culture. So, a combination of greed/money (on both Nina and the publisher’s parts), and our general culture (especially the history of what we ant to believe about eating animals), and people’s desire to hear what they want to hear all plays a role in how a book like that gets published.
      http://www.PlantPositive.com is a site with a series of videos where the researcher/author takes a very, very scholarly look at cholesterol deniers/confusionists, including Nina. I highly recommend the whole site. He doesn’t spend time on Nina per-say, but it’s all the same arguments. I think you could dive in anywhere and see how to respond to something like Nina’s book.
      If you haven’t seen it yet, the following page from PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) does a fun job of address some of Nina’s book. http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/index.php/dietary-guidelines-scientific-evidence-for-nina-teicholz
      What do you think?

  28. Just saw this in the media today. Just saw this today and would love Dr Greger to address it and dispel any myths. From my readings it would seem clear that eradicating cholesterol from the diet is a good thing , not to mention the animal protein. But recently I have seen some in the nutrition community coming out with statements like this. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/02/10/feds-poised-to-withdraw-longstanding-warnings-about-dietary-cholesterol/

    Love your work and you do such a service to society and mankind!

    1. Hi, Marie. I am Christine, a NF volunteer moderator. I understand your confusion and frustration on this issue. People love to hear good news about their bad habits. The fact is that the human body produces cholesterol in sufficient amounts to meet its needs for synthesis of hormones, bile, etc.
      This topic has been covered in several of Dr. Greger’s videos and publications. You might be interested in these:
      I hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Christine . I have seen Dr Greger’s videos and have his book and am just perplexed when I see qualified nutritionists even here in Ireland talking about the cholesterol “myth”. My question is how is there still debate about this when it seems that it is fairly clear cut?

        1. Marie, I think it is because some misleading studies have, by design, received a lot of publicity. In grad school, some of my instructors were propagating the so-called myth, as well.

  29. what about the saturated fat within nuts? does consumption of 100g/200g of walnuts a day have similar impact on arteries? (i.e. does it lead to cvd? or build-up in arteries?)

  30. HI GB! Thanks for your question. I’m a dietitian and volunteer moderator who helps Dr. G answer questions. As you are likely aware, there is alot of compelling evidence that saturated fat from animal foods raises cholesterol and negatively affects our arteries ability to relax/dilate. On the other hand, walnuts and almonds have been shown to both lower cholesterol levels and have no negative effect on our arteries. Dr. G. has a couple of great videos on the studies to back these statements:

    It is important to note that all fat containing foods will have a mixture of types of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. So, when reflecting on diet sources and heart health, it’s important to keep the total diet in mind ….. the more plant based the better, in a nutshell (no pun intended!). Hope this helps!

  31. I remember Dr. Greger didi a video tackling the argument that cholesterol isn’t related to heart disease, I can’t remember the name or seem to find it for the life of me though, can anyone please help? Thanks!!

  32. Dr. Greger mentioned in his answer that his book “Carbophobia” is available free on atkinsexposed.org but there is the only link to Amazon to buy it. Or “Atkins facts” book is the changed title for book “Carbophobia”? I am a little bit confused, thanks ;-) If Carbophobia is the different book is available for free?

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