The Winter of Their Discontent
Norris, a registered dietitian, hypothesized that the woman's "low" cholesterol was the cause of her feeling unwell. He said, "She was craving eggs because her body needed cholesterol." Cholesterol is only found in animal foods.
I thought that was an unusual pronouncement from a dietitian, a vegan advocate no less, because the human body, as anyone schooled in nutrition would know, makes its own cholesterol. Cholesterol is not an essential nutrient:
"Even if you ate a completely cholesterol-free diet, your body would make the approximately 1,000 mg it needs to function properly."In fact, the raw material for the production of cholesterol (and triglycerides) is a small 2-carbon molecule called acetyl-CoA, which comes from the breakdown of carbohydrate (and fat and protein), a nutrient that vegan diets provide in great amounts.
- Harvard Health Publications: CHAPTER 1: Understanding Cholesterol
The pathway for cholesterol production is complex. It requires many different enzymes and utilizes many feedback loops. (Statins lower cholesterol by impeding the action of one of those enzymes, HMG-CoA synthase.) This elegant complexity and redundancy and recycling is at the heart of homeostasis.
If it is true that the woman's cholesterol level was the cause of her feeling unwell (that was not established), given that most of our cholesterol comes from in-house production, this points to some disturbance or malfunctioning of the cholesterol synthesis pathway. It does not point to her not eating enough cholesterol.
By the way, I saw that the woman was eating not only a vegan diet but a raw food diet. It is difficult to thrive on a diet of raw plant food. Richard Wrangham (who argues in his book "Catching Fire" that "without cooking, the human brain (which consumes 20-25% of the body's energy) could not keep running.") said that people who eat mostly raw food "thrive only in rich modern environments," and they usually feel very, very hungry."
Even if you did live in a cooperative environment and could access adequate amounts of raw plant food, you'd have to consume a lot of calories. (Wrangham: Because raw food is harder to digest, it takes more calories to get the calories out of it, and you get fewer calories from it anyway.) You also have to spend many hours a day just chewing.