Did you know that your body relies on cholesterol for a number of processes? Or that dairy products and animal foods are worse for your bad cholesterol than butter and shellfish? How about that eating eggs isn't half as bad for your cholesterol as you think?
There are many common myths about high cholesterol and it's about time we debunked them! Here's who's most likely to have high cholesterol, why it isn't necessarily a bad thing and the foods that can cause it.
Three of the most common myths about high cholesterol
When you hear the word “cholesterol” you may automatically think “bad news!” But while high cholesterol is a dangerous condition, the white, waxy substance isn’t all bad. Your body actually relies on cholesterol for a number of processes – from providing structure for your cell membranes, to insulating the nerve cells in your brain. This is why your body makes cholesterol – your liver and cells elsewhere in your body make about 75% of the cholesterol in your blood.
Furthermore, many people don’t clearly understand the role of cholesterol in heart disease
. To break it down for you – cholesterol travels through your bloodstream by high-density (HDL) and low-density (LDL) lipoproteins. It’s only your LDL cholesterol – the so-called “bad cholesterol” – that’s responsible for atherosclerosis, a condition involving the hardening and narrowing of your arteries that can lead to a heart attack.
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#2: If a food contains 0 mg cholesterol, it’s heart-healthy
Dietary cholesterol is only one of the things found in food that can drive your cholesterol through the roof. So even if a food label reads 0 mg cholesterol, that doesn’t mean it’s free of everything that can contribute to elevated cholesterol.
In fact, foods that are high in saturated fat
– like dairy products and animal foods – and trans fats – like processed, packaged foods – appear to be worse for your cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol. This is because foods full of saturated fat
and trans fats have a greater impact on your LDL cholesterol than dietary cholesterol does.
#3: Eggs are the worst food you can eat for your cholesterol
It’s true that eggs are chockfull of dietary cholesterol – 200 mg and upwards, to be exact, which is more than two-thirds of the American Heart Association’s daily recommendation of 300 mg. But as explained, dietary cholesterol isn’t as bad for you as you may think. When you consume foods high in dietary cholesterol, your body compensates by producing less of its own cholesterol. Therefore, only some of the cholesterol in food ends up as cholesterol in your bloodstream.
So is it fine for you to eat eggs every day for breakfast? Well, not exactly – but you can enjoy them two or three times a week. After all, eggs are a top source of protein and contain unsaturated fat, also known as “healthy” fat!
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