5 High Cholesterol Myths Debunked!
How much do you know about cholesterol? Most people don’t know as much as they may think. Our team of physicians receive plenty of questions about conditions like high cholesterol, so this post will come in handy. Here we’ll take a look at the most common high cholesterol myths and the underlying truths.
This post should provide you with a much better understanding of high cholesterol by the time you’re finished.
What’s the Problem with High Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in lipids (fats) floating through the blood stream. Your body needs cholesterol to form new cells. Most already know that we can obtain cholesterol from food we eat, but our bodies also produce their own cholesterol. That’s why unhealthy diets can cause high cholesterol.
So what’s the problem with high cholesterol? Not much at first, there aren’t even any noticeable symptoms. However, high cholesterol can eventually cause atherosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries). This complication can get so bad that blood can’t flow through freely. At this point, the risk for heart attack and stroke become very real.
If you haven’t had your blood cholesterol levels checked in a while, we recommend it. Those who have high cholesterol could qualify for a clinical trial at our clinic in DeLand, Florida.
High Cholesterol Myths…and the Facts!
1) The U.S. has the Highest Rate of High Cholesterol
This seems likely based on the rate of obesity in this country, but it is a high cholesterol myth. Estimates show that about 35.7% of the adults in this country could be considered obese. That is roughly one-third of the population! That being said, clinical research shows that Americans have relatively average cholesterol levels overall.
In a survey taken by the World Health Organization, both American men and women had an average cholesterol level of 197 mg/dL. This number is just under the borderline high-risk levels:
- American men ranked 83rd in the world
- American women ranked 81st in the world
2) Any Food High in Cholesterol is Bad
This is one of the most common high cholesterol myths. The fact is that several foods which are high in cholesterol can still play a part in a healthy diet. You may be wondering how that could be true?
Research has shown that saturated fat is the primary contributor in many diagnosed of high cholesterol. In fact, it would appear that many of traditional “high cholesterol foods” don’t contribute to the development of this condition.
Takes eggs for example, which have about 200 mg of dietary cholesterol. This is a significant proportion of what is suggested for the entire day. High cholesterol clinical trials have shown that dietary cholesterol is not as bad as it was once thought to be. If eaten in moderation, your body can easily compensate by producing lower levels of cholesterol.
Eggs also contain unsaturated fat and are a good source of protein.
3) Peanut Butter and Avocados are both High Cholesterol Food Items
Looking at a bowl of peanut butter or avocado, it is not surprising that many assume these foods are high in cholesterol. Fortunately, this is a common high cholesterol myth. These are both “plant foods” and the only foods that naturally contain cholesterol are animal byproducts.
Many are surprised to find that peanut butter and avocados can actually help protect you from developing high cholesterol. How is that possible when they are high in fat? They both are great sources of monounsaturated fat.
4) Kids Aren’t at Risk for High Cholesterol
This is one of the more shocking high cholesterol myths, but kids can develop high cholesterol. Researchers have found atherosclerosis in children as young as 8! Should you be concerned as a parent? Do any of these apply?
- Your child is overweight
- Your child has high blood pressure issues
- Your family has a history of heart disease
If these apply to your child, then we recommend having their cholesterol levels checked. Children who have high cholesterol need to be put on a diet that restricts the amounts of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol consumed daily.
5) Those Who Exercise and Diet Can’t Get High Cholesterol
We wish this was true, but it is another high cholesterol myth. While some cases can be tied back to poor lifestyle choices, some are the result genetics or other factors that a patient has no control over. This means that there are people who exercise regularly and eat well but still need to take cholesterol lowering medications like statins.
The reason this can occur often comes down to how the body metabolizes cholesterol. Some naturally can’t handle the amount of cholesterol their own body produces. While they don’t take in a lot of bad cholesterol with their diet, their blood cholesterol levels will build over time.