What’s that, cholesterol isn’t a dirty word? Maybe that stick of butter in your coffee isn’t so bad after all.
According to a survey by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in the US, around 76% of Americans claimed they had checked their cholesterol level at least once in the last five years.
Despite the similarity, patients are misguided severely about what the cholesterol test results mean to them. Most of them are not even getting accurate results at all.
Fig: What is Cholesterol
76% of Americans claimed they had checked their cholesterol level at least once in the last five years.
Wait, Whats That All Mean?
For example, you know almost nothing about your health status with a total cholesterol test. You have to know the amount of low-density lipoprotein and high density cholesterol numbers and the size of LDL cholesterol particles.
Getting confused? You’re not alone! It has always been the matter of suspicion behind heart disease for decades by the media and most of us have cut all high cholesterol foods strictly (no matter how healthy, nutritious and vital they were for our body) from our diets.
Many people started looking for cholesterol-controlling statin medicines as prescribed by their physicians. At least one in four Americans above 45 take those medicines, despite their huge list of effectiveness and side effects. But the question still remains the same. Is it really the matter of concern?
Is cholesterol really the culprit which is eventually blocking your arteries and taking you to a threatening condition of heart stroke? For most people, the answer is obviously no. So, let’s discuss some of the most common myths behind cholesterol busted once and for all.
Common Cholesterol Myths Uncovered!
All Types of Cholesterols are bad
Cholesterol is not bad at all. It is center stage of the great cholesterol myth. Your liver wouldn’t be able to produce it much, if it were bad. Most of us don’t know that our liver generates over 3-quarters of cholesterol in the body. This is why it is important. Most of the healthiest diets contain cholesterol in their foods in the form of saturated fats. Since the early 1950s, it has been a scapegoat with the arrival of wrongful research by Ancel Keys.
Actually, cholesterol helps our body in different ways in overall functioning. It plays a vital role in controlling the pathways of protein which signals the cells and also other processes of cells.
It has been already evident that cholesterol plays a vital role in the membranes of the cell. But it is also known to be interacting with proteins in the cells, which add up even more value. Your body consists of trillions of cells which should get in touch with one another.
Cholesterol is among those molecules which promote such kind of interactions to happen. For instance, it is supposed to be the ancestor of bile acids. Your digestive system may not work properly without proper amounts of cholesterol.
It is also vital for our brain, which holds up to 25% of cholesterol found in the body. It is very vital to connect neurons, which are helpful in thinking, building memories, and learning something new in day-to-day life.
Fig: Good and Bad Cholesterol
Bad Eating Habits are the Main Cause of High Cholesterol
This is another cholesterol myth. Diet is not the only factor in cholesterol levels. Instead, it can be hereditary. Our liver is made to filter extra cholesterol off our body. Genetics also play a vital role in our liver’s ability to control cholesterol to a healthy range. Let’s take an example of genetic familial hypercholesterolemia in people. In this condition, cholesterol levels go abnormally high, which may resist the levels of lifestyle strategies like exercise and diet.
Having healthy cholesterol-laden foods isn’t something you should relate to your guilt. In fact, they are good for your body. Also they will not increase cholesterol levels as you may have been suggested to. Only around 20% of cholesterol levels in your blood come from diet.
According to a survey conducted among adults in South Carolina, there is no connection of blood cholesterol with poor diet, such as animal fats, red meat, eggs, butter, bacon, whole milk, cheese and sausage.
If cholesterol in your food still haunts you, the recently released US Dietary Guidelines in 2015 are saying something else. According to previous guidelines, people should eat cholesterol-rich foods only around 300mg. per day, despite having strong evidences that it’s not the major culprit behind cholesterol levels in the body.
Finally, the recent guidelines refused the misleading information and even suggested egg yolks as the main sources of protein. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) has suggested the long overdue change, which acknowledged what science defines, i.e. cholesterol is not the matter of concern behind overeating.
Healthy Cholesterol Level of Everyone Must be Same
Healthy cholesterol level varies from person to person. No matter what doctor tells you, there is no scientific evidence that total cholesterol of everyone must not cross the level of 200 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter), and LDL must be below 100 mg/dL. In addition, it will not tell much about the risk of heart disease. If you are diagnosed with too high cholesterol on the basis of lipid profile, you should get more detailed info, especially when you have family history of cardiovascular disease. Initially, you can ask for LipoProfile NMR, which focuses on small LDL cholesterol particles.
Large LDL cholesterol particles are not that toxic. Only small density of LDL particles can cause a problem as they can squeeze through arteries. They can cause inflammation and damage if they oxidize. National Lipid Association (NLA) and other groups are moving their focus to LDL number rather than LDL and total cholesterol to determine the risk of heart disease. But it is still yet to reach the mainstream. Along with it, these tests can give better check up of risk of heart disease than total level of cholesterol –
HDL/Cholesterol – HDL cholesterol levels are a very potent risk factor of heart disease. HDL level should be divided by total cholesterol. It should be around 24%.
Triglyceride/HDL – Do the same with your HDL and triglyceride ratio. Be sure percentage is around 2.
Fasting insulin level – Any snack or meal rich in carbohydrates like refined grains and fructose generates huge spike in blood glucose level and insulin to regulate blood sugar levels.
Insulin which is released by consuming too many carbohydrates increase fat deposits and makes it even harder for your body to lose weight. Especially your belly fat plays a vital role in heart disease.
Fasting blood sugar level – According to the studies, people with around 100 to 125 mg/dL of fasting blood sugar level had up to 300% risk of coronary heart disease as compared to those with level under 79 mg/dL.
Iron level – Iron is supposed to be very strong oxidative stress. If you have high level of iron in the body, blood vessels can be damaged and there would be increased risk of heart disease. As a general rule, you need to keep track on ferritin levels and be sure that they are not high over 80 ng/ml. You can donate your blood to lower them, if they are increased. There may be therapeutic phlebotomy if it is not possible and it will remove the excess iron from the body effectively.
Kids Cannot Have High Level of Cholesterol
It is common for kids to have high levels of cholesterol, especially because of liver problem due to which liver cannot remove extra cholesterol from your body. Lifestyle changes like controlling sugar consumption, exercise, and eating unprocessed foods can help control healthy levels.
Margarine is Better than Butter for Controlling Cholesterol Levels
Especially raw and organic butter from cows which are fed with grass, butter is a range of nourishing fats and nutrition. According to the research, butter may have both long and short term benefits to our health. According to a Swedish study, fat levels in blood are lower after having meal loaded with butter as compared to eating a meal which is high in canola oil, olive oil and flaxseed oil.
In addition, having omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (margarine) instead of saturated animal fats is associated with high risk of death among patients suffering heart disease. Taking margarine is exact opposite of the needs of your body for heart health. Saturated fats are supposed to benefit our body with HDL cholesterol and it may also raise LDL cholesterol levels.
The latter is not that bad either, as it is confirmed that having saturated fats can raise the levels of fluffy LDL cholesterol particles, the type which doesn’t cause heart disease. But increasing consumption of saturated fat may even turn dense, small level of LDL into large and fluffy LDL levels. On the other side, margarine has had synthetic trans fat, worst artificial fat which increases dense, small LDL and risk of serious disease.
Cholesterol Drugs are Good for Heart Health
Drug manufacturer Eli Lilly in October 2015 stopped trial for Evacetrapib, a cholesterol-controlling drug. According to many people, drug which can lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL level would be another best cholesterol cure. Until 2016, results of study were presented at annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology which meant health professionals learned the dismal nature of study. Drug had almost no adverse impact on heart.
According to the New York Times, “Participants taking medicine had reduced LDL levels to 55 mg/dl from 84. The HDL levels of these participants rose to 104 mg/dL from 46. In comparison to 255 patients in group taking placebo, 256 people had heart attacks.
More than 92 patients had stroke who were taking the drug, in comparison to 95 in the group taking placebo. And 434 people taking this drug died of heart disease, including stroke or heart attack, in comparison to 444 people taking placebo.”
According to Dr. Steven Nissen at Cleveland Clinic, “These studies are known to be wake up calls for many of us.” It is indeed not the first time a cholesterol-controlling drug has been found to be useless.
Statins are Good for Your Heart
There are certain evidences that claim that statins may be unhealthy to your heart health and are only be effective because of statistical deception. According to a report in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, statin advocates used relative risk reduction (RRR), a statistical tool to control the trivial beneficial effects of statins.
When it comes to absolute risk, statin drugs are beneficial to only 1% of population. It doesn’t look that amazing. So, relative risk is a different statistic which is used by statin supporters. Statins become good for around 30% to 50% of population suddenly.
According to George Mason University’s STATS, “The best thing of relative risk is it tells nothing about the risk.” Statins further deplete the body of CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10), which is used for producing energy for every cell in the body and it is important for high energy levels, good health, overall quality of life and longevity.
The reduced form of CoQ10, ubiquinol is an important part of respiration of cells and production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is coenzyme used to carry energy to every cell of the body. If you think that heart is an organ which needs most oxygen in the body, you may be shocked how devastating its effects can be to deplete the main source of energy of your cells.
When one of the famous claims of statins is to reduce risk of heart disease, you are actually at high risk when you deplete the body of CoQ10. The depletion of CoQ10 is the reason why statins can cause acute heart failure. You should take CoQ10 as supplement if you are at statin drug. If you are above 40, you should take the reduced form of CoQ10 as it can be absorbed by the body more effectively.
Only Mens are at risk of High Cholesterol, not Women
To control cholesterol level in the body in normal range, women have high amount of estrogen levels. After menopause, there is no advantage of it. Women above 55 and men above 45 have higher risk of increased level of cholesterol.
You Cannot do Anything Much about High Cholesterol
Genetics surely play a vital role, but lifestyle and diet choices play a huge impact on high cholesterol levels. You should take preventive measures and be more careful to maintain normal level if your family have had high cholesterol in the past.
Medication is the Only Way to Lower Cholesterol Successfully
Once you know that you have high amount of cholesterol, you should investigate the matter. If you fix the cause frequently, your cholesterol will be back to normal. Lack of activity, poor diet, infection, physical stress like surgery, and mental stress are the common causes of high cholesterol level.
Another major misunderstanding that most people have is taking medication is enough and they don’t have to exercise or do anything with their diet. Cholesterol medications can just help you control it’s levels at a certain extent. You can get the most of your medication by making heart-healthy lifestyle choices and diet.
Food having “0 mg Cholesterol” is Heart Friendly
The Cholesterol level of this nutritional label is helpful in dietary cholesterol, which is one of the important things in food which can lead your cholesterol level to go up. Saturated food which is found in dairy food and animal fat and Trans fats in packaged goods seem to have a lot high effect on LDL, the bad cholesterol which is the cause of atherosclerosis. These are high cholesterol foods.
Cholesterol is Always Worst for Heart
When it comes to cholesterol, many people think bad of it. But reality is far more different. High cholesterol can be harmful but only cholesterol is not essentially harmful to functions of the body. Most people also confuse cholesterol with heart disease. The HDL and LDL lipoproteins carry it through bloodstream. Though LDLs are bad cholesterol levels, but they don’t always cause atherosclerosis.
Low Cholesterol is Always Good
Usually, LDL cholesterol is healthy. But according to a new research, people who have cancer also have LDL cholesterol before diagnosis than those who are healthy. With low cholesterol, people are also vulnerable to several infections suffering longer and are more likely to die of infection.
There are no Common Signs of High Cholesterol
With high cholesterol, some people develop xanthomas, yellowish red bumps which may take place on joints, eyelids, hands or other body parts. People with familial hypercholesterolemia or diabetes are highly vulnerable to have xanthomas.
So, it is always wise to check your cholesterol level to find out if it is high, at the age of 20 years or if suggested by healthcare provider.
Skinny People Don’t have to Worry About High Cholesterol
Cholesterol has nothing to do with thin, obese or in-between people. In fact everyone should check their cholesterol regularly. Overweight people may have high cholesterol by having fatty food too much, but skinny people who cannot gain weight should also control their diet and have good cholesterol foods.
Tips to Protect Your Heart
Here are some of our top suggestions if you want to improve your heart health without relying on any medication –
- Make a plan to avoid sugars and grains in your diet. It is very vital to avoid gluten-based sugars and grains like fructose.
- Eat as much raw food as you can. It is the best way to lower cholesterol.
- Be sure to get enough of animal-based high quality omega-3 acids like krill oil. According to a research, at least 500mg of krill oil per day can improve triglycerides and cholesterol and also improve good cholesterol levels.
- Refrain from hazardous vegetable Oils and Trans fats and adopt healthy oils like olive oil, avocado, butter, coconut oil and pastured eggs. Use coconut oil for baking and cooking, you can also use cold olive oil.
- Make your daily diet healthy with fermented foods. It will improve your intestinal micro-flora and also improve overall immunity. It will add healthy bacteria to your mouth which will help improve heart health.
- Improve your vitamin D intake, especially with proper sunbath as it can help body absorb vitamin D sulfate, which plays a vital role to avoid arterial plaque buildup.
- Be sure to add high intensity interval exercises to your routine and exercise regularly. It will help optimize the production of human growth hormone.
- Stay away from excessive alcohol and smoking.
- Get plenty of good sleep.
- Practice stress-management techniques regularly.
So, it’s the best time for you to make health goals and follow the ones you have set earlier. And also make all the important changes to your life to finish this year as healthier and stronger you.
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