5 Myths about cholesterol, and what to do instead!

5 Myths about Cholesterol, and What to Do Instead

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated, but you do not need to be afraid of it.

Let’s jump into some myths and truths:

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it’s floating through your blood is what’s more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it’s combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

Lipoproteins are grouped into two main categories:

  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it’s even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn’t simply cholesterol.  It has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it’s bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It’s actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? ‘Cause that’s where it’s made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there’s a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don’t start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don’t seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?

Nutrition and exercise, baby!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

*Don’t worry the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.*

Other great ways to get a good balance are to  exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

There is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level, and I’m here to help!

Questions about your cholesterol or what you can do to improve your health in general? CLICK HERE to schedule a time to chat!


 

Recipe: Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

½ cup hemp seeds
½ cup orange juice
1 clove of garlic, peeled
dash salt and/or pepper

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.

Serve on top of your favourite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.


References:

How to raise your HDL cholesterol

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/

All About Cholesterol: Understanding nutrition’s most controversial molecule.

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