We have always been told cholesterol is bad. Drug companies have done a great job in reinforcing this belief as they protect a market for cholesterol drugs worth in excess of $25 billion. They incentivize doctors to prescribe their drugs, they run clinical trials that they can choose to make public or not, and in the US they are the single biggest funders of the Food and Drug Administration. The pharmaceutical industry is riddled with conflicts of interest.
We are taught to avoid foods high in cholesterol like eggs that clog our arteries and lead us to an early grave. I personally have high cholesterol and I am happy to inform you that cholesterol is not the antichrist that it has been made out to be. In the blog, I will address three common myths about cholesterol and their truths.
Myth 1: All Cholesterol is Bad for You
Fact: Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs. It is an antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, helps in hormone production, and aids digestion. There are two different kinds of cholesterol in your body - good (HDL) and bad (LDL). Bad cholesterol was believed to promote the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries. That’s why numerous pharmaceutical drugs, namely statins, target this cholesterol. Now prepare for your mind to be blown. Research in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests otherwise published the findings of experts from seven different countries who evaluated data collected from 19 studies on a total of 68,094 older adults. The team was seeking to determine if LDL cholesterol is associated with death in older adults. According to the cholesterol hypothesis, it should directly relate. According to the BMJ study, it doesn’t.
Researchers say almost 80 percent of the participants in the studies who had high LDL cholesterol did not die because of their cholesterol level. On the other hand, researchers discovered people with low levels of LDL cholesterol, or LDL-C, had the highest rates of death related to cardiovascular disease.
Myth 2: Foods High in Cholesterol Increase the Risk of Heart Attacks
Fact: The amount of cholesterol in your blood and in your diet are two different things. Although it may seem logical that eating high-cholesterol foods would raise blood cholesterol levels, it usually does not work that way. When your dietary intake of cholesterol goes down, your body makes more. When it goes up, your body makes less. This breaks the link between cholesterol and heart disease.
Myth 3: All High Cholesterol Foods are Bad for You
Fact: Not all foods high in cholesterol are bad for you. You are seven that are actually very good for you. Top of the list is a food that is always top of the list of enemies - the humble egg. One egg delivers a powerful punch of cholesterol - 207 mg in total. Research is now showing they don't raise bad cholesterol levels and actually increase good cholesterol. Aside from being rich in cholesterol, eggs are an excellent source of highly absorbable protein and beneficial nutrients such as selenium, vitamin A, and several B vitamins. Secondly, full-fat cheese does not raise bad cholesterol levels, and they also provide a good amount of calcium, protein, and vitamin A, and B vitamins. Third on the list is shellfish. A 85 grams serving of canned shrimp has a whopping 214 mg of cholesterol. Shellfish — including clams, crab, and shrimp — are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and selenium. And here is the kicker, these “bad” boys of the sea are being shown to lower the risk of heart disease and level of bad cholesterol. The last four are pasture-raised red meat, sardines, organ meats like liver, and full-fat yogurt.