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Statins and Heart Health: A Wake-Up Call for Millions

Statins, Heart Health

In a medical world dominated by the prescription pad, statins have become the sacred cows of cholesterol management and heart disease prevention.

But what if this “standard of care” has not only misled physicians… but also jeopardized the lives of millions of patients?

A groundbreaking study from the University of Pittsburgh, led by Dr. Tim Anderson, sheds new light on this controversial topic. The PREVENT study, using a sophisticated heart disease risk calculator, has revealed startling findings…

As many as 4 million Americans currently taking statins might not even “need” them.

According to Anderson:

The 10-year risk of developing heart disease determined with the new tool was about half that estimated with the previous one.”

These findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, challenge decades of conventional medical practice and, hopefully, will shift the landscape of heart disease prevention.

In this article, we will delve into the complexities of cholesterol, the true impact of statins, and the profound role of diet on our heart health.

First, let’s take a look at that highly misunderstood substance – cholesterol!

Understanding Cholesterol: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Cholesterol

Cholesterol is essential for the body, playing a vital role in cell membrane structure, hormone production, and other critical functions.

However, not all cholesterol is created equal.

Healthy cholesterol is crucial for these bodily functions, while unhealthy oxidized cholesterol is the type that sticks to the arteries, causing inflammation and clots.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, oxidized cholesterol is significantly more likely to contribute to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular events compared to non-oxidized cholesterol.i

Does Lowering Cholesterol Actually Reduce Heart Disease Risk?

Statins are designed to reduce cholesterol levels, but does this actually lower the risk of heart disease?
A comprehensive review in the American Journal of Cardiology concluded that the relationship between cholesterol levels and heart disease is more complex than previously thought and that other factors, such as inflammation and oxidative stress, play significant roles.ii

Interestingly, research has shown that people with higher cholesterol levels tend to live longer.

In fact, a groundbreaking study published in the BMJ found that elderly individuals with higher cholesterol levels had a lower risk of mortality compared to those with lower levels.iii

Because cholesterol is crucial for maintaining cell membrane integrity, hormone production, and immune function, having higher cholesterol levels might help protect against infections and diseases that are more common in older age.iv

heart nutrients, heart drugs

The Questionable Effectiveness & Side Effects of Statins

Statins are widely prescribed to lower cholesterol, but do they reduce heart disease risk?

A meta-analysis published in The Lancet raised questions about the true efficacy of statins, suggesting that their impact on heart disease prevention might not be as significant as once believed.v

Let’s take a look at the key points from the review:

  1. Marginal Reduction in Cardiovascular Events: The review analyzed data from numerous randomized controlled trials and found that while statins do reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events, the magnitude of this reduction is almost inconsequential. For example, a meta-analysis of statin trials showed that for every 1,000 people treated with statins for five years, only about 18 would avoid a major cardiovascular
  2. Questionable Impact on Mortality Rates: The analysis highlighted that the impact of statins on overall mortality rates is minimal. Some studies included in the review demonstrated no significant difference in all-cause mortality between those taking statins and those on a placebo.vii
  3. Overestimation of Benefits: The authors pointed out that the relative risk reductions often cited in statin studies can be misleading. While relative risk reductions might appear substantial, absolute risk reduction is often modest. For instance, a 20% relative risk reduction might translate to a small absolute reduction in actual cardiovascular events. viii
  4. Side Effects and Adverse Events: The review also considered the side effects associated with statin use, such as muscle pain, liver damage, an increased risk of diabetes, and depletion of heart-vital CoQ10 levels. It emphasized that these adverse events might offset the modest benefits of statins for many patients, especially those at low to moderate risk of cardiovascular disease. ix x
  5. Need for Personalized Medicine: Given the variable response to statins and the potential for adverse effects, the review advocates for a more personalized approach to prescribing statins. It suggests that clinicians should carefully weigh the risks and benefits for each patient rather than applying a one-size-fits-all guideline. xi

New Insights: The PREVENT Calculator

The PREVENT heart disease risk calculator, developed by the American Heart Association, offers a more accurate assessment of heart disease risk by incorporating newly recognized factors such as kidney disease and obesity. This tool aims to refine how we evaluate and manage heart disease risk.

In a study led by Dr. Tim Anderson, researchers compared the PREVENT tool’s estimates with older guidelines using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Improve the Health of Your Cholesterol with Healthy Fats

Healthy fats, such as the monounsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts, pastured pork, duck and duck fat, olives and extra virgin olive oil, can improve cholesterol health by increasing the size of LDL particles, making them less likely to stick to artery walls.

These fats also help boost levels of HDL cholesterol, which helps remove unhealthy cholesterol from the bloodstream.xii

Unhealthy fats, particularly trans fats, promote the formation of small, dense LDL particles that are more prone to oxidation and arterial plaque formation. The Atherosclerosis Journal reported that trans fats not only increase LDL cholesterol but also contribute to systemic inflammation, further elevating the risk of heart disease. Be sure to read labels and avoid anything with “hydrogenated” oils.

Omega-6 fats, commonly found in processed foods and vegetable oils, also can have a profound negative impact on cholesterol health. While omega-6 fats are essential in small amounts, an imbalance with omega-3 fats is problematic. In fact, research in the Journal of Lipid Research shows that high omega-6 intake is associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation, which increase the risk of heart disease risk.xiv

Our bodies and brains were not designed to handle the amount of sugar in our modern diet. And the result is disease and degeneration.

Carbohydrates, Sugar and Cholesterol Health

Sugar and refined carbs damage cholesterol by creating advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which promote inflammation – a key driver of heart disease.

The Diabetes Care journal highlighted that high sugar intake is directly linked to increased AGEs and chronic inflammation, exacerbating the risk of cardiovascular conditions.xv

The Prescription on Your Plate: Mother Nature’s Solution to Optimize Your Cholesterol (+ 1 Day Meal Plan)

We now know the benefits of statins are often overstated, offering only modest reductions in cardiovascular events and minimal impact on mortality rates.

What’s more, the side effects of statins, such as muscle pain, liver damage, and increased diabetes risk, further question their widespread use.

Shifting our focus to natural dietary interventions offers a safer and more effective approach to heart health. By basing our diet around healthy native fats, reducing unhealthy processed fats, and limiting sugar and refined carbohydrates, we can better optimize cholesterol levels and support long-term cardiovascular health.

To improve your cholesterol health, consider the following dietary upgrades:

  • Increase Healthy Native Fats: Incorporate more healthy native fats including grass-fed beef and bison, pastured pork and wild seafood, as well as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
  • Avoid Unhealthy Processed Fats: Avoid trans fats and omega-6 rich vegetable oils.
  • Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbohydrate Intake: Minimize consumption of sugary foods, beverages and refined carbs to lower the formation of AGEs.
  • Enjoy Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Enjoy foods like organic berries, dark chocolate and green tea that help to reduce oxidative damage to cholesterol.
grass cattle browse all natural pasture raised banner

Let’s put it all together! Here is a simple and delicious one-day sample ancestral meal plan designed to support healthy cholesterol levels by balancing blood sugar levels, providing healthy fats in the right ratios, and including antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies:

Breakfast: Wild Salmon and Avocado Bowl


  • 4 oz wild salmon, cooked
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Organic mixed greens
  • 5-6 olives


  • Combine mixed greens, cooked salmon, and avocado slices in a bowl.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and add olives on top.

Mid-Morning Snack: Macadamia Nuts and Berries

  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup mixed organic blueberries and raspberries

Lunch: Grilled Chicken and Artichoke Salad


  • 6 oz grilled pastured chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • Organic mixed greens
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


  • Toss mixed greens with artichoke hearts.
  • Add sliced grilled chicken on top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Dinner: Grass-Fed Filet Mignon with Garlic Butter, Cremini Mushrooms & Green Beans



  • Add half the butter to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add steak and cook to desired doneness. Set aside to rest on a plate, covered.
  • Add the remaining butter to the skillet. Add the green beans and cook 2 minutes, add the garlic and mushrooms and cook 2 minutes more.
  • Top the steak with the green beans and mushroom mixture.

Evening Snack: Green Tea & Dark Chocolate

Explore more health-conscious articles from Kelley and other trusted sources on our US Wellness Meats Discover Blog today!

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Kelley Herring

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  2. Ridker PM, Rifai N, Rose L, Buring JE, Cook NR. Effectiveness of cholesterol reduction in heart disease prevention. Am J Cardiol. 2019;124(5):856-862.
  3. Ravnskov U, Diamond DM, Hama R, et al. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review. BMJ. 2016; 6(6)
  4. Ravnskov U, Diamond DM, Hama R, et al. Lack of an association or an inverse association between low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol and mortality in the elderly: a systematic review. BMJ. 2016;6(6)
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  14. Lands WE, Hamazaki T, Yamazaki K, et al. Impact of omega-6 fats on oxidation and inflammation. J Lipid Res. 2020;61(5):674-680.
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