Cholesterol has been considered a bad word. Cholesterol is not a deadly toxin, but a substance vital to the cells in your body. The more you learn about it, the more you can understand its importance and why it is often misunderstood. Here are some common misconceptions about cholesterol.
Myth: Cholesterol is always bad
Many people associate "cholesterol" with "unhealthy". It is more complicated than that. High cholesterol levels may be risky, but cholesterol itself is vital to certain bodily processes, like insulating nerve cells in the brain to providing structure for cells. This is why your body produces it. In fact, about three quarters of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver and cells elsewhere in your body.
Part of the confusion of cholesterol is understanding HDL and LDL. Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream by low-density and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL). LDL, known as bad cholesterol, and not the cholesterol it carries per se, is responsible for atherosclerosis. These, along with triglycerides and Lp(a) cholesterol, comprise your total cholesterol count, as shown in a blood test.
Myth: Americans are world leaders in highest cholesterol
Although the stereotypical fat American with cholesterol-clogged arteries may have a little merit, when we look at our national cholesterol levels we are clearly middle-of-the-pack.
According to the World Health Organization, men in the USA rank only 83rd globally in average total cholesterol, and American women rank 81st. For both men and women, the average total cholesterol number was 197 mg/dL, under the Borderline-High Risk category. That's much better than the highest countries. In Colombia the average cholesterol among men is a whopping 244, while the women in Israel, Libya, Norway, and Uruguay come in at 232.
Myth: Eggs are the enemy
Although eggs have about 185mg of dietary cholesterols of 200 mg, dietary cholesterol isn't nearly as dangerous as was once thought. Only some of the cholesterol in food ends up as cholesterol in your bloodstream, and if your dietary cholesterol intake rises, your body compensates by producing less cholesterol of its own.
Eggs are also packed with nutritional value. Just one egg contains 13 essential vitamins and minerals but only 75 calories. They are a good source protein and including all nine essential amino acids and unsaturated fat, a so-called good fat. Also squeezed inside are riboflavin, vitamin A, D, B6, B12 as well as phosphorus, calcium, iron and zinc.
Myth: Kids can't have high cholesterol
Many assume that high cholesterol is a problem begins n middle age. However, research has shown us that atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks, can begin as soon as age eight. The American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines in 2008 for children and cholesterol and recommended that kids who are overweight, have hypertension, or have a family history of heart disease have their cholesterol tested as young as two!
Kids with high cholesterol levels should restrict saturated fat to only 7% of calories and less than 200 mg per day of dietary cholesterol, according to the AAP. Fiber supplements and more exercise are also recommended.
Although the guidelines prompted an outcry from parents concerned that doctors would be pushing cholesterol-lowering statin drugs for their children, a new study suggests that less than 1% of adolescents between 12 and 17 could be considered good candidates for medication.
Myth: Food is considered heart-healthy if the label says "0 mg cholesterol"
The Cholesterol information on a nutritional label refers to dietary cholesterol, which is just one of the elements in food that can cause your cholesterol to rise. It's also considered to be the least important. Saturated fats, which are found in animal foods and dairy products, as well as trans fats, usually from packaged foods, appear to have a much larger impact on LDL levels.
Myth: People should avoid eating shrimp.
Shrimp is not evil as it was believed. LDL levels can increase if you eat fried shrimp or served in buttery sauce, which isn't the fault of the crustaceans.
Although shrimp, like eggs, are somewhat high in cholesterol, they're low in saturated fat. They also contain helpful fish oils, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. So enjoy shrimp if you have high cholesterol. Just don't prepare them with added fat.
Myth: You only need to worry about cholesterol if you're overweight.
Although those who are overweight run a higher risk for having high cholesterol levels, there are many thin people who have cholesterol problems as well.
Your weigh isn't the only factor that matters when it comes to your cholesterol. Your genes and lifestyle—what you eat, how active you are—also play a role. So be sure to get your cholesterol checked regularly, even if you're at a healthy weight.
The good news is that adults can take steps to improve cardiovascular health, including eating a proper diet, exercising, controlling their cholesterol levels.
An excellent cholesterol supplement that include many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the “bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!