The 9 Irrefutable Benefits of Cholesterol in the Diet

by Sarah healthy fatsComments: 30


benefits of cholesterol

It was gratifying to see Time magazine recently set the record straight and admit it was wrong by finally pronouncing on its cover what some of us have known for many years: that saturated fats like butter containing natural cholesterol are in fact beneficial to health and not the dietary demons they’ve been portrayed for the past 5+ decades.

While it was great to see butter and the benefits of cholesterol finally get their day in the sun, don’t expect to see the lowfat/nonfat dairy and butter substitutes disappear overnight from the dairy aisle at your local supermarket. Changing the thought process of several generations duped into thinking saturated fat and cholesterol are bad takes years if not a decade or more.

If you take the initiative to research on your own, though, no worries. You are far ahead of the curve and will avoid harm from the standard nutritional nonsense still being taught despite even conventional sources like Time magazine which now recognize the benefits of cholesterol and saturated fats.

Are you new to the concept that cholesterol is beneficial to health and that saturated fat sources like butter, coconut oil, liver and eggs should play a prominent role in a healthy, traditionally oriented diet?

If so, the list below of the benefits of cholesterol should help clarify the importance of this nutrient’s role in the body. The list summarizes the nine critical body functions that either don’t work at all or work very poorly without cholesterol.

Let’s make it clear, however, that this list is talking about cholesterol in an unprocessed state. Oxidized cholesterol that is found in processed foods is to be avoided.  It is this damaged cholesterol that contributes to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, to atherosclerosis, not the natural cholesterol in whole foods.

And guess what?  Oxidized cholesterol in the form of milk powder is exactly what food manufacturers add to skim milk to give it body. Milk powder is created by forcing liquid milk through a tiny hole at high pressure, and then blown out into the air (source). Skim milk is not the health food portrayed by conventional dietary dogma.

So eat your cholesterol in the form of whole, not processed foods and you will be doing your body good by enjoying all the biological benefits of cholesterol.

The 9 Benefits of Cholesterol in the Diet

Source: Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon Morell

  1. Cholesterol is vital for balanced hormones and the manufacture of those that deal with the stress of everyday living.  These hormones also are protective against heart disease and cancer.

  2. Cholesterol is needed by the body to make all the sex hormones including andogen, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and DHEA.

  3. Cholesterol is necessary for the body to properly use Vitamin D, which is critical for all body systems including the bones, nerves, proper growth, mineral metabolism, muscle tone, insulin production, fertility, and strong immunity.

  4. Bile salts made by the liver require cholesterol. Bile is critical to the digestive process and absorption of dietary fats.

  5. Cholesterol functions as a powerful antioxidant in the body and is protective of free radical damage to tissues.

  6. Cholesterol is vital for proper functioning of the brain. Cholesterol is used by serotonin receptors .. serotonin is the body’s natural “feel good” chemical.  No wonder low cholesterol levels have been associated with aggressive and violent tendencies, depression and suicide.

  7. Breastmilk is ideally rich in cholesterol and contains a special enzyme for the baby to properly utilize it. Babies and children need cholesterol for proper growth and development of the brain, nervous system, and immune function.

  8. Cholesterol is necessary for proper functioning of the intestines and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal wall.  Low cholesterol diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome and other digestive problems.

  9. Cholesterol is critical to repair of damaged cells. This is why cholesterol levels naturally rise as we age and are beneficial to the elderly.  Women with the highest cholesterol actually live the longest!  Dr. Meyer Texon MD, a respected pathologist practicing at New York University Medical Center, observes that accusing saturated fat and cholesterol for hardening of the arteries is like accusing white blood cells of causing infection, rather than helping the immune system address it.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


Sources and More Information

Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease

Cholesterol Myths to Wise Up About

The Untold Story of Butter

What Oxidizes the Cholesterol in Eggs?

Cardiologist Speaks Out Against Lowfat Diet

The High Risks of Low Cholesterol

Comments (30)

  • Kathleen Garnett

    Hi – Another interesting article. I was just wondering what your thoughts were on those who inherit the “bad” cholesterol gene. It is very common but many do not even realise they are suffering from this condition. What would you recommend to those who have been diagnosed with this gene? Continue their natural diet? Take statins? Reduce their saturated fat intake?

    March 9th, 2016 12:41 am Reply
  • Hilda Labrada Gore

    Thanks for this post, Sarah! I saw my doctor recently and she commented on how healthy I was. And yet, she had to add, “Hmmm. Your cholesterol is on the high side.” I feel like she doesn’t get point #9. We need more cholesterol as we age!

    March 8th, 2016 11:10 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Good point! I would be EXTREMELY WORRIED if my cholesterol wasn’t edging up slightly as a I got older. My cholesterol is higher than it was in my 20’s and 30’s and I am GLAD. Shows my body is responding to the increasing repair duties needed as we get older.

      March 9th, 2016 8:05 am Reply
  • Kimberly

    The mistake was seeing cholesterol around the hearts during autopsies of heart attack victims. They concluded the cholesterol was the cause of the heart attack. In fact, the opposite. Cholesterol rushed to the heart to heal it.

    Classic interpretation mistake.

    March 8th, 2016 12:09 pm Reply
    • Sarah

      Cholesterol is the biological equivalent of a fire fighter, not the fire starter.

      March 8th, 2016 12:29 pm Reply
  • Sandy Parent

    Sarah, Thanks so much for helping explain to others easily and simple. I appreciate the ease and clear information that some might not understand. I can’t say thank you enough for your wonderful blog, recomendations, and all the gifts you provide just being you. Grateful !

    March 7th, 2016 8:08 am Reply
  • Zzg00gzz


    I’m 26, female, 115 LBS. I started taking red yeast rice for my high cholesterol (fatal familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic predisposition for the body to store cholesterol) and my doctor recommended the RYR for my cholesterol, and 2400 MGS. So, I’m not sure if this a placebo but this hasn’t happened with any of the other supplements I’ve used.

    I started taking it and within a week or so I noticed aching in my muscles. I thought it could have been due to to taking spring break from my aerobics class, but it didn’t go away. It got worse. I then noticed I was feeling really bored and losing interest in the things I enjoyed. Jamming to jumpstyle, dancing to disco, busting some wild grooves with gabber, chilling with dub and reggae, or raving to dubstep, drumstep and drum n bass…suddenly, just…didn’t interest me much, In fact going back my aerobics class didn’t sound fun…and I ENJOY that class!!

    Then my boredom went into fatigue, then frustration. I got angry about little things. Hearing a wrong note, even if in vibrato in a song would get me criticizing it to no end when before I would merely tell myself “it’s how they like to sing”, Then I was getting very frustrated with other things, so much to the point I was yelling and pounding on them. I thought it could just been the day, but had to remember this had been happening a lot recently…then my ears started ringing, then ringing to a loud roaring. My hearing decreased from the roaring. I thought to myself “I’m a musician! I can’t have this going on when I’m trying to compose a track!”

    The aching went to my fingers after a while. I actually wondered if i had arthritis. At my age?!? The aching was worrying me more and more. Having to stretch every time I would stand up? I was beginning to feel much “older” than I was. That got me thinking to my aerobics class. How could I even exercise with all of these aches and pains?? I had been taking about 30 MGs of CoQ10 during the day too, so i didn’t link it to the red yeast rice.

    Finally in the last days, I was feeling more and more uneasy. I nearly blew up at my music teacher! I don’t ever wish that to happen! He means a lot to me!

    I was struggling with some strange, dark thoughts. Being a victim of some horrible tortures and begging to be killed. Very, very unusual thoughts for me! I can normally get rid of those thoughts by eating high protein meats…not this time. Sleep was getting unusual too, I was staying up later and later. Then waking up in the night from my ears roaring at me. I took this roaring as a “calling” to hunt down the causes. Then I had a dream, a nightmare that summed it all up, one that was eerily similar to the thoughts I was having during the day.

    My muscles and then later my kidneys and liver were being dissolved by an acidic substance. I was convinced that going through such a procedure would lead me on a path to enlightenment and good health…I woke up, hot and sweating like a pig in a near scream. I knew what it was. Taking that natural statin.

    I got off it immediately and pumped up on the Coenzyme Q10. It took me about four days to feel moderately normal. It’s been two weeks now and I’m feeling pretty good now.

    The fact is, I’m a small person, smaller than an average 26 year old woman! It could also be that at my size, even a small dose of statins could have a big impact upon my mental, emotional and physical health.

    I was tempted to try this again in hopes that it’s not a placebo. Then again, if it’s NOT a placebo, why would I want to willingly put myself through that mess again? Yeast infection? Could be too, but still, I’m not going to risk going through that again. I’d rather take my chances with high cholesterol and risk the threat of dying unknowingly than live my life in such a way.

    I’m going to be writing a song about some of the things I’ve been finding out about within the medical community outlining just why people so desperately need to be made aware of these things and be on alert for frauds (and to pay attention if they do feel they or someone in their family are being turned into a fraud victim), not just in the medical field, but in some cases even in the homeopathic realm. I read were some of the lower end companies don’t even use the real ingredients in some of the items they sell, and medical companies can use that as a way to say that ALL homeopathy is a fraud while dismissing any detrimental effects of their medications. There’s good and bad on both sides.

    So be AWARE and do as much research as you can on BOTH sides, not just with what you prefer!

    April 4th, 2015 4:28 pm Reply
    • June

      I was on a statin drug for high cholesterol for years and was always complaining about stiffness and muscle pain. My doctor pretty much ignored my complaints. Then it showed in my bloodwork that the statin was effecting my liver…she put me on a different statin. The stiffness and muscle pain worsened to the point I called my doctor and refused to take it anymore. She told me to switch to Red Yeast Rice which I researched before taking. Good thing I did. Statins are derived from RYR and it carries the same side effects! I’ve been working very hard to reduce my”bad cholesterol and triglycerides but after reading this Time article will look into this further.

      March 22nd, 2016 3:28 pm Reply
  • Dusty Copeland via Facebook

    natural, raw grass fed butter, otherwise it is still highly processed junk food

    October 2nd, 2014 10:36 am Reply
  • Brandi Shaw via Facebook

    I got into an argument with a guy who insists, eating fat makes you insulin resistant. Facepalm all day, but what did i expect when his link was a vegan website. Vegan trolling MDA and spewing his ignorance. BUTTER FOR LIFE!

    October 1st, 2014 4:53 am Reply
  • Richard Gamble via Facebook

    The moron on the left in the glasses is Ansel Keyes

    October 1st, 2014 1:39 am Reply
  • Sharon Hill-Walker via Facebook

    A step in the right direction! Thanks for sharing this!

    October 1st, 2014 1:22 am Reply
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  • Anton

    Time magazine having a slow month?

    Things have come full circle in some respects on the question of natural unprocessed cholesterol.

    The question is not so much do we need cholesterol as a beneficial part of our diet but do we need to be eating quite so much of it or anything else?

    Cholesterol in our diet is not the same as cholesterol build up in our arteries, the cholesterol we eat is mostly safely broken down in our stomachs, the bad cholesterol our body produces blocks our arteries. The good cholesterol our bodies produce don’t. Your cholesterol score from a blood test tells you both.

    There is not so much cholesterol found in natural foods we consume but where it is moderation as with everything is the key. Where one or two eggs a week are a part of a healthy varied diet six or more are not etc. It’s the calories that we are counting not the cholesterol we consume.

    There is always a danger on focusing on just one fat as being good, no we shouldn’t be eating coconut oil by the tablespoons everyday. No its not a super-food. Super-food fads are a real danger to our health.

    A varied moderate diet lowish in calories is best for our health. Obesity is bad for our health.

    “The eggs are good for you” amongst other beneficial cholesterols news broke during the late eighties in Europe. The egg issue and spotlight came after disastrous egg PR by British member of parliament Edwina Currie who claimed all eggs in the UK were tainted with salmonella.

    The real killers in all the fats however (besides over eating into obesity) are as is mentioned the heat processed fats.

    I am surprised what with the litigious nature of the Americans there hasn’t been a class action suit against any number of manufacturers there that must have literally killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans with their processed highly damaging fats, partially hydrogenated fats high amongst them. There was a period decades ago where these fats were being touted as “healthy” for us compared to unprocessed butter in the form of margarines and spreads for example.

    These bad fats dont even contain cholesterol.

    Yes unprocessed low salt butter in moderation is positively good for you certainly compared to processed partially hydrogenated margarine spread. Does this mean we should only eat and cook with butter?

    A big fat NO.

    Oils and fats both animal and plant should only be a very small part of our diet, very small in fact those already occurring naturally in our food stuffs should be more than enough for a well balanced diet. The same for vitamins for example, we should be getting enough of them in our diet we really don’t need more unless we are suffering some medical condition or damaging ourselves in some way or other like drinking too much or smoking.

    Eating varied whole natural unprocessed foods has always been the key to good health.

    No good ffods stand out as being better or worse than anything else unless we are consuming it out of balance to the rest of our diet, even meat can be a killer fat on or off if we eat too much of it.

    The three things factory processed foods concentrate and are bad for us in those concentrations are salt, sugar and fat any kind of fat, best to void completely.

    Lastly some processed fats are actually good for us. Read labels. Cold pressed and filtered oils are the best as are all unsaturated oils as they are much lower in calories. Unfortunately many convert to bad fats when heated in cooking processes like high baking or frying and roasting so you need to select the right oil for the job too, one that can take a high temp for example or avoid over heating when cooking. Also many good oils cannot keep and will oxidise in daylight.

    Do we need so many oils and cooking fats? No we should be getting enough in our diets already.

    Gentle steaming is often the best, it preserves the natural oils like omegas and vitamins in our food and poses no danger to our health like high heat roasting, frying and intense baking can. Long low and slow cooking is also a healthier option.

    Bon appetite

    July 20th, 2014 11:32 pm Reply
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  • sophie

    Thanks for the article. Something I don’t really understand, however, is how cholesterol can be responsible for all these things when, “Most of the cholesterol in our bodies is actually produced by our own cells and every cell in the body can produce cholesterol. The cholesterol we eat is usually a minor source compared to the amount we produce.” (

    Any thoughts?

    July 14th, 2014 6:17 am Reply
  • Kieran

    Doesn’t our liver make enough of our daily cholesterol? Do we have to get extra cholesterol from animal sources? How much is beneficial and how much is too much? are vegans cholesterol deficient in any way? (not that I have heard of)

    July 14th, 2014 3:01 am Reply
    • sophie

      Vegan are more than likely deficient in cholesterol because cholesterol is ONLY in animal product. That being said…saturated fat CAN be converted into cholesterol and vegans CAN get saturated fat.
      The problem is they may not be getting enough. Furthermore, having low cholesterol may not show up, but what may show up are hormonal problems…which are caused by low cholesterol…

      July 14th, 2014 6:22 pm Reply
  • Kimberly Faith Cabe via Facebook

    Since going lower carb, high fat paleo, I’ve raised my HDL by 25 points and lowered my LDL by 20 pts. Also, all my inflammatory markers normalized. I think those results speak for themselves. Eat the fat!

    July 12th, 2014 7:48 am Reply
    • Walter Sobchak

      Report back in five years and tell us how it’s going. You’re following a fad diet.

      January 6th, 2016 12:38 pm Reply
      • Isk

        I’ll give my report card instead since I’ve been eating fats for nearly 30 plus years- 4 pastured eggs every morning, grass fed butter every day, bone broth at least once a month, whole grass fed milk, chicken, bison, beef…in a nutshell, not a day without wholesome fat.
        And, here’s the report you prompted: low LDL, healthy HDL levels, great skin in a 130 lb, 5.7 tall female, great energy levels, and general great health. Btw I never believed anyone (even the ones with an alphabet of medical credentials after their names) saying that wholesome foods like eggs, milk and butter were bad for health. Instead, I continued eating those foods because they made me feel full, feel good, feel healthy and full of energy.

        March 6th, 2016 2:57 pm Reply
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  • April

    Have had major digestive problems since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and Celiac. Been to a dozen doctors who only want to prescribe pills. None of them were interested in my diet. By chance I came across a little old lady from Poland who told me that when the elderly are sick in Poland they load them up with RAW milk…butter..eggs to help them regain their strength. Let foods be thy medicine. I have been eating these foods and I am very satisfied. I am feeling stronger every day and I will tell anyone who will listen “Eat Saturated Fat”. It will heal you and will also keep you from “overeating”. Blessings to all.

    July 2nd, 2014 1:31 pm Reply
    • sophie

      The Polish know what they’re talking about…trust me 😉

      July 14th, 2014 6:23 pm Reply
  • Sandeep Agarwal

    Great article. I particularly liked your picture of the 3 Time magazines. We have original copy of all of these 3 Time magazines in our collection at

    July 1st, 2014 3:37 pm Reply
  • Dr. Sylvia Onusic

    Thanks for the great article, Sarah. Over 50 years of damage from Mr. Cholesterol Ancel Keys low fat/ low cholesterol pronouncements which were implemented as food policy and made millions for the food industry in selling damaging vegetable oils, fat free and low fat “foods, sugars and artificial sweeteners. Even babies were not exempt from this policy and baby formulas were loaded with the anti-foods. We are seeing the results now with skyrocketing obesity, diabetes, cancer and other diseases which are largely food dependent, and an epidemic of mental health issues among our children and youth. Even toddlers on anti-depressants? That can’t be right. Rather, give them butter.

    July 1st, 2014 9:41 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Good point Sylvia. Yes, demonization of butter was all about building the edible oil industry empire with its transfats, interesterified fats and GMO oils. Cheap oils, big profits all sold to an unsuspecting public in the name of better “health”. Follow the almighty dollar.

      July 1st, 2014 11:18 am Reply
      • Terri

        Yes, butter is back. The question that needs to be asked now is where did it go. You answer that in this reply but my concern is how come we let the dietdictocrats get away with bad information. I have to scratch my head and say, “Why did butter go away, who did that, and how come they have so much power to influence my food choices, and what will be the next victim?” Why are these questions not being asked on the front of Time magazine. Who will be held accountable? No need to answer, I know the answer.

        July 1st, 2014 12:30 pm Reply
    • Beth

      TIME magazine’s “Eat Butter” article was a huge reversal of over 50 years of wrong reporting. Too bad the editors of TIME didn’t more fully own up to their significant role in perpetuating the low-fat myth with their erroneous cover articles spanning 5 decades.

      The question now is how can we bring about wider awareness of this egregious mistake and get rid of “heart healthy” claims for things like Raisin Bran and fake butter?

      When will we see the term “heart healthy” in its rightful place on pastured butter, eggs, milk, tallow, lard, organ meats and meat, and tropical oils like coconut and palm oil?

      July 6th, 2014 11:55 am Reply
  • megan

    #2 interesting. the longer I have been eating farm raised eggs. I know the farmer farm….. My monthly has straighten out without me eating soy to up the estrogen.

    July 1st, 2014 8:04 am Reply

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