My Doctor Says My Cholesterol Is High

By Leon Ledlum

I have decided to bring to the open one of the many daily issues of discussions from the Liberian community, and the topic of concern to me has to do with, "My doctor says my cholesterol is high". Fellow citizens, before I go any further, let me say I am not your medical doctor, but a poor Liberian veterinarian, meaning an "animal doctor", who happens to read more medical articles than the average Liberian and, therefore, may understand more than y'all.

May I first ask: do all who talk about cholesterol in the Liberian community, know what that is, what it does to the body, and how it is formed? For the sake of those who do not know, let me provide some information for the understanding of all.

What is CHOLESTEROL? The word "cholesterol" is Greek for "bile solids". And in biochemistry and medicine, it means waxy fat, or fat-like substance (lipid), which is present in human beings as well as in animals. Its origin in animal and human is two folds:-(a) 80% of it is from the liver, and (b) 20% from the consumption of animal products, like:-meat, eggs, dairy etc.

Types of Cholesterol

There are four (4) types of cholesterol:-
· High-density lipoproteins (HDL) = Called "good" cholesterol.
· Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) = Called "bad" cholesterol.
· Very-low-density lipoproteins =Called "very bad" cholesterol.
· CHYLOMICRONS:-which only carry a small percentage of cholesterol. Chylomicrons are mostly rich in another type of fat (lipid) called TRIGLYCERIDES.

I would not venture into what is the right amount of cholesterol the body needs, because that has become very controversial and I would rather recommend that all interested, read more on the subject matter, by using the search engine. Interesting enough, there is one, which carries the views of Uffe Ravnskov, MD, PhD.

As we can see from the definition of cholesterol, food from plant origin should not be a factor or the cause of one's hike in their cholesterol. I bring this into the discussion because it has been sighted by many doctors in the US, according to those who talk about their cholesterol, as the cause of their high cholesterol levels. And mainly, they turn to point the accusing finger at our diet; I mean Liberian or African, with special reference to "PALM OIL" or "PALM BUTTER". This, my fellow Liberian, is not true, but rather a misleading diagnosis of sort.

Many of your doctors know very little or nothing about our diets. Let no one put you down by denigrating what you eat. Science as we know it, is not only by what is observed in the laboratory or in the test tube, but also the long history of peoples' ways of doing things, if it is measured and translated to into a scientific language. Many scientific conclusions arise out of studies on animals. We did not do such when it comes to our way of life. Notwithstanding, we have long years of history where our fore bearers had eaten those foods, and lived years with very little complaint. Why should we all of a sudden abandon those facts and pick on what is being offered by someone who has no idea as to what those diets were/are?
Liberians and Africans at large, beware how you are quick to heed the advice of your doctors in dumping what you've been used to eating before coming here. I have a theory, which I guess some may to want to call "conspiratorial".

This is what is taking place in the world of edible oils:-"Despite the many plants that have oil bearing seeds, only a few have commercial importance as edible oils. Of these, soya bean, palm, rapeseed and sunflower seed predominate and supply some 60% of the world supplies. Palm oil, which has long held second place to soya bean oil, is predicted soon to become the dominant oil."

As we speak, palm oil is the second largest edible oil and accounts for approximately 23% of the world's fats and oil supply. Since 80% of palm produced is used in food- its nutritional properties are of extreme importance.

My theory, therefore, is that the diagnosis being given by your doctors, accusing palm oil as the culprit to your high cholesterol, is rather a ploy to discredit the nutritional and health value of palm oil, so as to create our dependence on soya bean oil, which is mainly a US farm product. The whole issue has to do with marketing tactics to create more markets for the US farmer. This is a multi-billion dollar industry, and as the saying goes in the US, it is all about the bottom line!

Palm oil is also known as palm fruit oil. It is an expeller pressed oil obtained from sun-basked fruit bunches of the non-GM (genetically modified) oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Virgin palm oil is rich in carotenoids (pro vitamin A), tocopherols (vitamin E). Like all vegetable oils, it is cholesterol-free. Further more, it contains no trans-fatty acids.

For those interested and want to read more, please do the following search:-; then click on the sub-section on "health benefits.


Author of this article: Dr. Leon Q. Ledlum, former Director of Veterinary Services Division, MOA, Liberia; currently Vet. QCO at the Division of Animal Resource, Dept. of Research, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. E-mails:- and

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