Why Carbohydrates, not Fats, raise your Cholesterol Level

Posted by in Health Tips

My Big FAT Rant

I’ve explained the relationship between carbs, fats and cholesterol levels to countless clients, friends, family and blog subscribers. Many have been receptive, but the movement away from a low-fat diet plan has been glacial at best. Read this post with an open mind and feel free to challenge me with your questions and thoughts.

The following bullet points set the table for the article, a pictorial analogy explains the relationship, then a quick summary with an amazing reference to further your understanding…let’s roll!

  • Every cell in your body has a layer of fat surrounding it.
  • 60% of your brain is fat.
  • Fats provide flavor, have anti-inflammatory properties and lower the Glycemic Index rating of carbohydrates.
  • Total Cholesterol Count = HDL + LDL + 20% of your Triglycerides
  • LDL (bad) = Low Density Lipoprotein
  • HDL (good) = High Density Lipoprotein
  • Triglycerides = main constituents of natural fats and oils, and high concentrations in the blood indicate an elevated risk of stroke.
  • Eating good fats (see chart) can actually help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol & triglyceride levels while increasing your HDL (good).

Wait a minute…I thought fat intake increased my cholesterol levels?!

The low-fat diet was born in the early 1900’s, expanded in the 50’s and exploded in the early 90’s due to an endorsement by the American Heart Association. Unfortunately it has done nothing to curb obesity rates, diabetes, or heart disease.

When fats are removed from a product, the replacement is often timessugar. When you personally remove fats from your diet in an effort to cut calories, here’s what can happen:

  • Increased Carbohydrate Intake
  • Increased Blood Sugar/Insulin Levels
  • Increased Systemic Inflammation
  • Increased Cholesterol Levels

Here’s the skinny on Fat and Cholesterol:

Cholesterol defined is “a compound of the sterol type [waxy solids] found in most body tissues, including the blood and the nerves. … its derivatives are important constituents of cell membranes” (see bullet point #1 at top)

Only ~30% of your cholesterol count comes directly from dietary intake of bad fats such as trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.

The other ~70% is produced by your liver in response to systemic inflammation due to lack of good fats present and high blood sugar/insulin levels. Remember, good fats have anti-inflammatory properties.

Allow me to elaborate:

Processed carbohydrate intake can create systemic inflammation causing “pothole-like” damage to surrounding cell walls within your arteries and veins…your circulatory network.

Processed Carbohydrate Damage

Two Ways to Fix Damaged Cell Walls:

#1: Consume More Good Fats

Consuming a diet with sufficient intake of healthy fats listed in the chart above, can combat both elements that add up to heart disease:

  • Decreased Processed Carbohydrate Intake
  • Decreased Blood Sugar Levels
  • Decreased Systemic Inflammation
  • Decreased Cell Wall Damage
  • Decreased Production of Cholesterol (LDL)

Healthy fats essentially work as volunteer road crew (less tax dollars spent) repairing potholes in the cell walls for free!

Good Fats Helping to Repair Cell Walls

#2. Produce More Cholesterol

If fat is reduced or eliminated from your diet, the body’s response is to have the liver produce more LDL to help repair cell wall damage. LDL works as a literal road crew, repairing pot-holes in cell walls within your body’s circulatory network.

LDL Cholesterol Fixing Potholes

Chronic inflammation + Elevated Cholesterol = Heart Disease or Diabetes…precisely what the American Heart Association’s goal is to prevent.

Summary Points:

  • Learn to love good fats, they’re extremely useful/productive calories within the body.
  • Low Fat often times means more sugar
  • Sugary “whites” such as breads, cereals, bagels, pasta, soda, chips, candy all can cause systemic inflammation, diabetes, and eventually heart disease.

Here’s an amazing resource to further your understanding of fats:


“I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.” ~Author Unknown