The “eggs make you have high cholesterol” argument is very 1980s and was debunked many years ago, and continues to be supported by research. Dietary cholesterol accounts for only about 10% of cholesterol, the rest of it is made in the liver.

Cholesterol is formed by the breakdown of glucose. Glucose>AcetylCoA>HMGCoA>Cholesterol.

Cholesterol is then used by the body to do one of three things:

  1. Vitamin D synthesis.

  2. Steroid hormone synthesis.

  3. Cell membrane production/repair.

It’s a pretty important molecule.

If your cholesterol levels are too high, it’s usually because your body is trying to make more of one of these substances.

Clinically, I find that patients with high cholesterol often have high intake of simple carbohydrates – especially refined sugar. This leads to systemic inflammation and increases the need for cell repair – so the high sugar intake people often fit into category number 3.

The other reasons for high cholesterol are also really common – low vitamin D which is almost everyone in my clinic – we all spend far too much time indoors, and when we are outside we are covered with clothing, hats and sunscreen so we aren’t making as much vitamin D as we like to think we are. And low steroid hormones – especially low cortisol which is common in adrenal fatigue and burnout, and low testosterone, estrogen or progesterone – also common hormonal imbalances in response to the modern lifestyle.

From a TCM point of view, cholesterol is a yin substance – used to anchor the yang of the sun (for vitamin D synthesis), it supports your Kidney Yin and Yang and Jing expression (hormone production and reproduction capacity). Fixing your low vitamin D, or low hormone levels, or reducing your inflammation will help your cholesterol levels return to normal. Eating less sugar and keeping your blood glucose levels in a good range helps too!

If you’re body isn’t making enough cholesterol, usually it indicates a big problem – mostly with liver function (because that’s where cholesterol is made). Low cholesterol also means you won’t be able to do those 3 things very effectively. Blood/yin dryness is usually a big component of the clinical picture in those with low cholesterol, usually Liver blood dryness/yin xu, sometimes Kidney yin xu.

Clare Pyers