Debunking Misconceptions to Improve Fertility: the "Low Cholesterol" Myth

By Julie Chang, Owner and Founder of Zen Fertility Center

For decades, we have been advised by our doctors and the media to eat a certain way to attain optimal health.  In fact, we are so ingrained by this doctrine that it's difficult to question the validity of this advice even though health crises – including infertility affecting 1 in 8 couples, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health problems - are at an all-time high and affecting the population at younger ages. 

Over the past 15 years, I have treated thousands of patients, researched food and its impact on the body, and studied health extensively. Based on this knowledge and experience, I believe the fundamental reason behind these health crises is that certain diets and foods, some even recommended by doctors are actually negatively impacting our overall health and, conversely, our fertility and the health of future generations.

For instance, the common refrain that eating a diet that promotes low cholesterol will prevent heart disease is a misconception.  A diet that allegedly focuses on heart-health proposes that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our blood and recommends avoiding certain foods, such as red meat and butter, in order to maintain a low cholesterol level.  However, many studies have resoundingly disproved this assertion. Notably, George Mann, M.D., former Associate Director of the 40 year Framingham Heart Study, contends, “The diet-heart hypothesis has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit, and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies, and even governmental agencies.  The public is being deceived by the greatest health scam of the century.” 

These are strong words to swallow and there is a great deal of conflicting information on the topic. So let’s take a moment to set the foundation for this argument. First and foremost, understanding what cholesterol is and does is essential to making an informed decision. Cholesterol is a large fat molecule made by almost every cell in the body, but mostly in the liver.  It has many functions, including vital ones directly relevant to fertility and child development, such as:

  • Precursor to important fertility hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol
  • Steroid essential for the development and function of the brain and nervous system
  • Precursor to Vitamin D – needed for healthy bones, reproduction, normal growth, eyesight, nervous system

As you can see, cholesterol is essential to creating and sustaining optimal life!  In fact, it is needed in every cell of your body to function properly.  My recommendations for improving fertility and the health of your unborn child or existing children are to include more sources of cholesterol in your diet.  These include grass-fed red meat, grass-fed organ meats including liver and heart, and raw dairy (including milk, butter, yogurt, cheese).  I also suggest patients eliminate completely all sources of polyunsaturated oils (e.g. corn, safflower, soybean oils) – basically all oils that remain liquid in the refrigerator.  Instead, cook with raw butter, coconut oil, grass-fed beef fat, or grass-fed lard.

Whaaat?!?  Eat red meat and butter??  That’s right.  Those are some of my recommendations to improving fertility and the health of your children.  In future posts, I’ll go into more depth about why I recommend these specific foods. Until then, enjoy a steak tonight!