7 Myths About Cholesterol

Healthy Tips

When we talk about cholesterol, it is usually referred to cholesterol in the blood. This is waxy, fatty and can be found in all the cells of the body. The body uses cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D and bile acid, which helps break down fats.

Cholesterol travels in the bloodstream in low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high density lipoproteins (HDL). Too much LDL can cause cholesterol buildup (also known as plaque) in the arteries, which makes the heart work harder to circulate the blood.

Plaques can break and cause blood clots that block blood to the brain (a stroke) or the heart (a heart attack). For these reasons, LDL is nicknamed “bad” cholesterol. In contrast, HDL transports cholesterol from the whole body to the liver, which removes it from the body and is called the “good cholesterol”.

Having high cholesterol is largely related to having too much LDL and this puts you at higher risk of heart disease. In general, there are no signs or symptoms that indicate you have high cholesterol, which is part of the reason why heart disease, the number one killer in men and women, is called silent killer.

Myths about cholesterol

It is worth noting that the body produces all the cholesterol it needs, so there is no biological need to obtain it from food, although it is present in foods of animal origin and is called “dietary cholesterol”.

1.Eat cholesterol increases cholesterol

It seems a reasonable assumption, right? Therefore, before 2015, dietary guidelines recommended a daily limit of 300 milligrams of cholesterol, with the idea that eating cholesterol raised blood cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

However, the most recent review of the evidence found that eating cholesterol does not elevate blood cholesterol to worrisome levels and that it is no longer a goal of reducing public health. That said, many foods that contain cholesterol, such as red meat, also contain saturated fats. In addition, low cholesterol diets, such as those based on plants, can be very healthy.

2. Coffee raises cholesterol

Some short-term studies found that unfiltered coffee increased LDL. The good news is that filtered coffee, which is much more common, does not seem to affect cholesterol much. They point out that there is strong evidence that healthy adults enjoy one or two cups of coffee a day without worrying about increasing the risk of heart disease, cancer or premature death.

3. Fatty foods are full of cholesterol

Not all fatty foods are rich. In fact, cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin. That means that fatty foods from plants like avocados, nuts and olive oil are naturally free of cholesterol.

These foods appear in many of the healthiest eating patterns. In particular, nuts and olive oil are called key components of a Mediterranean diet that is very healthy for the heart.

4. Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates is a healthy way to lower cholesterol

According to the 2015 guidelines, replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates reduces total cholesterol and LDL (this is a good thing). However, it also increases triglycerides and reduces HDL (something that is not so good). Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates can be especially harmful if those carbohydrates come from refined grains and added sugars (soft drinks, cookies or chips, for example).

For better health, you should reduce total cholesterol and LDL by eating polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats. For each percent of calories that are exchanged (PUFA in, SFA out), the risk of heart disease is reduced by 2 to 3 percent. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that amounts to only 20 calories (about two grams) of saturated fat to replace and start to make a profit. Some foods rich in polyunsaturated fats include salmon, trout, sunflower oil, nuts and tofu.

5. A bad diet is the only reason

Most people with high cholesterol have unbalanced diets. However, one in 500 people will remove the LDL from the bloodstream, leaving it accumulated in the blood and causing damage that could lead to an early heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest before age 65.

Up to 90 percent of people with this genetic condition do not know they have it. Although this is a different route to high cholesterol, treating it still begins with eating better and moving more. In particular, that means exercising regularly, eating less red meat and full-fat dairy products, and eating more fish, whole grains, vegetables, nuts and oils. Depending on your situation, your doctor can add cholesterol-lowering medications to the mix, but a healthy lifestyle is an important basis for treatment.

6. Only adults need to be tested for cholesterol

National standards for health assessments recommend that even healthy children check their cholesterol levels once when they are between 9 and 11 years old, and again when they are between 17 and 21 years old.

In comparison, adults without risk factors should control their cholesterol once every four or six years. It is a good idea to talk with your doctor to find out if there are risk factors that may require more regular monitoring (for example, smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, family history of premature heart disease).

7. The only number I need to know is my total cholesterol

The total cholesterol score is a starting point, but not the whole cholesterol picture. In general, total cholesterol scores above and beyond 200 milligrams per deciliter of blood are warning signs. Within the total cholesterol scores are the results for LDL, HDL and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL).

The lowest risk of heart disease is associated with LDL of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, HDL of more than 60 milligrams per deciliter and triglycerides of less than 150 milligrams per deciliter (ie, 30 milligrams per deciliter of VLDL).

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