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Explore the myths surrounding this popular health topic and learn how to restore and maintain healthy cholesterol.
People often think the words "high cholesterol" comes with flashing, red hazard lights. Although high cholesterol may need to be warned with caution and taken seriously, elevated levels are not always indicative of poor health. In fact, the truths of cholesterol are often misunderstood and flawed. Learn all about cholesterol and cut the ties of its associated myths!
Cholesterol is a life-supporting component naturally produced in the body and consumed from animal products. Cholesterol is found in virtually every cell and some of its key roles include hormone, bile, and vitamin D production. The table below is a concise description of the common cholesterol types and desirable levels of each.
1. Eating eggs increases cholesterol levels.
Given up those beloved breakfast eggs each morning? Although it was once believed giving up cholesterol-containing eggs should be practiced to reduce cholesterol levels, new research suggests otherwise. In fact, eggs can certainly fit in a healthy diet. So, don't be afraid to get crackin'! But if worried about cholesterol content, avoid the yolk (where the cholesterol is found) and consume the protein-packed egg white only.
2. Eating cholesterol results to heart disease.
This compares to the belief described above. Like eggs, cholesterol-containing products have a seat in a nutritious diet without driving you to poor heart health. Animal products also offers much more than cholesterol - iron in beef, calcium in milk, and zinc in shellfish. Like any food, it is important to stick to the concept of moderation and adhere to portion sizes.
3. A low-fat diet is the best kind of diet.
There is this general misconception that eating fat will pack on body fat. Although it certainly can if choosing poor quality and consumed in excess, the body needs fat for day-to-day functions. Although cholesterol is found in saturated fat sources, generally from animal products, their intake can still be incorporated into a healthy diet.
4. Medication is the only way to reduce cholesterol.
False! Despite effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering statins, diet choices and exercise routines can keep cholesterol levels in healthy levels. Lifestyle choices and changes can not only reduce cholesterol levels, but lower healthcare costs associated with reduced or absent medication prescriptions.
5. High cholesterol is indicative of future heart attacks.
Consistent evidence implies there is no increased risk of heart attacks following a high animal fat and cholesterol-containing diet. Although swapping out saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat may effectively reduce cholesterol levels, there is no concrete data suggesting the substitution reduces cardiovascular disease and associated mortality.
Ramsden C, Zamora D, Majchrzak-Hong S, et al. Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73). BMJ 2016;353:i1246. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i1246.
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