Cholesterol Myths Busted

 – by Yvette Sajem

All Cholesterol Is Bad

  • The idea that all cholesterol is dangerous is decidedly false. According to the American Heart Association  (AHA), your body needs cholesterol to produce cell membranes and some types of  hormones, and to maintain certain bodily functions. In fact, your body produces  approximately 75 percent of the cholesterol in your bloodstream. There are two  types of cholesterol: LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol). If LDL  numbers are too high, it can build up as plaque in your arteries, causing  blockages that can lead to heart attack or stroke. HDL, however, is believed to  protect your cardiovascular system from damage by expelling excess cholesterol  from your bloodstream and slowing the buildup of LDL. The key to good health is  maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance.

Total Cholesterol Matters Most

  • Many people believe that if their total cholesterol number is within normal  range, then all is well. Unfortunately this isn’t true. In an interview with  Heart Healthy Online, Scott W. Shurmur, M.D., explains that even if your total  cholesterol number is normal, you may still be at risk for heart disease.  Doctors prefer to break down your total cholesterol into HDL, LDL and  triglycerides. A better indicator of healthy cholesterol levels and a sound  cardiovascular system is a fifth number, your non-HDL cholesterol, which is  obtained by subtracting your HDL number from your total number. Says Dr.  Shurmur, “We like to see non-HDL cholesterol 30 points higher than your LDL  measurement. It’s a better predictor of heart-attack risk than your total  cholesterol number alone.”

Eggs Are Bad

  • This myth, which spread like wildfire in the 1980s, warned against the  dangers of eggs, based on the theory that because eggs have a high cholesterol  content, eating them could raise cholesterol levels to unhealthy levels. Not  true, according to Dr. Shurmur. Although one egg contains approximately 200 mg  of cholesterol—which is more than two-thirds of the AHA’s recommended daily  amount—they’re low in saturated fat, which is more culpable in raising bad  cholesterol (LDL) levels. Further, recent studies show that dietary cholesterol  is not as unhealthy as once thought. Only a portion of it is absorbed by your  bloodstream, and if your dietary cholesterol consumption increases, your body  compensates by manufacturing less.

“Heart-Healthy” Foods

  • According to MSN Health & Fitness, nutrition labels that declare food  “cholesterol-free” can be deceptive. Dietary cholesterol, in fact, is considered  the least important culprit when it comes to raising your cholesterol levels.  More dangerous are foods that are high in saturated fat, generally found in  animal and dairy products, and trans fats, typically found in hydrogenated oils,  fried foods, imitation cheese, and packaged foods like cookies, doughnuts, chips  and crackers. The AHA warns that saturated fats raise blood cholesterol levels  and trans fats not only raise your LDL levels but lower your HDL levels. The  lesson: Before you purchase any food product, read the nutrition label  carefully.

Supplements and Cholesterol

  • Reports that herbal supplements like garlic, guggul or ginger can improve  cholesterol levels are, according to Heart Healthy Online, exaggerated at best,  patently false at worst. Garlic and ginger may have a very mild effect on  cholesterol levels, but they are in no way a substitute for traditional drug  therapy. As far as the Indian herb guggul, or guggulipid, is concerned, clinical  trials have shown that it may actually raise levels of LDL cholesterol and cause  allergic reactions in some people. Leslie Cho, M.D., speaking on Heart Healthy  Online, states that although fish oil and omega-3 supplements have been proven  to protect against heart attack, it is a myth that they lower  cholesterol.

Cholesterol Is an Adult Problem

  • Think your kids aren’t at risk for high cholesterol? Think again. According  to MSN Health & Fitness, studies have shown that children as young as eight  can begin to develop atherosclerosis, the artery-narrowing plaque buildup that  leads to heart attacks and stroke. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics  (AAP) recommends that children with a family history of cardiovascular disease  or who are overweight or have hypertension should have their cholesterol levels  tested as early as age 2. The guidelines go on to recommend that children who  have high cholesterol should exercise, take fiber supplements  and consume a diet restricted in cholesterol and saturated  fat.

   Cholesterol Myths Busted brought to you by Tasty Farmer  

1 Comment

  1. admin

    Great article, so many untruths out there…we really need to relearn what we eat…

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