7 Myths About Cholesterol Debunked
When we talk about cholesterol, it’s usually in reference to blood cholesterol (vs. dietary cholesterol). It’s waxy, fatty and can be found in all of the body’s cells. The body uses cholesterol to make 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 (aka plaque) in the arteries, which makes your heart work harder to circulate blood. Plaques can break open and cause blood clots that block blood to the brain (a stroke) or to the heart (a heart attack). For these reasons, LDL is nicknamed “bad” cholesterol. In contrast, HDL carries cholesterol from around the body back to the liver, which removes it from the body, earning it the “good cholesterol” moniker.
Having high cholesterol largely refers to having too much LDL and puts you at greater risk for heart disease. There aren’t typically signs or symptoms to let you know you have high cholesterol, which is part of why heart disease — the No. 1 killer of men and women — is called the silent killer. It’s worth noting that the body makes all the cholesterol it needs, so there’s no biological need to get it from food, though it is present in animal foods and is referred to as “dietary cholesterol.”
Myth 1: Eating cholesterol raises cholesterol
Myth 2: Coffee raises cholesterol
Myth 3: Fatty foods are full of cholesterol
Myth 4: Replacing saturated fat with carbs is a healthy way to lower cholesterol
Myth 5: A poor diet is the only reason cholesterol gets too high
Myth 6: Only adults need to have their cholesterol tested
Myth 7: The only number I need to know is my total cholesterol
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