6 Fast Facts About Cholesterol
June 19, 2019
Heart disease is the number one cause of death among Americans. High blood cholesterol and a poor diet are leading contributors to this common ailment. But a lot of confusion surrounds cholesterol, namely that there’s too much information floating around to keep track of it all. So let’s cut through all the noise – here are the must-know insights for 2019.
You Need Cholesterol to Function
Low-density lipoprotein is LDL. High-density protein is HDL. LDL is considered “bad cholesterol” because it can get bad, not because it’s bad for you. In fact, you need it to bring cholesterol from your liver to the rest of your body. However, too much of it can build up in the arteries, whereas HDL not only doesn’t build up, it prevents the LDL buildup. That’s why the goal is to have more HDL than LDL.
But Eating Cholesterol Won’t (Really) Raise Your LDL Levels
If eating something high in cholesterol increases bad cholesterol, it’s only slightly. Plenty of high cholesterol foods are good for you, and not because they have HDL instead of LDL. Instead, it’s because the cholesterol doesn’t really affect you, while the rest of the nutrients do (in a good way).
The Real Culprits? Sugar and Fat
Want to raise unhealthy levels of cholesterol quickly? Eat sugary treats and saturated fat. These will increase your liver’s LDL production, making it far likelier to raise your cholesterol than any cholesterol-heavy food.
Foods High in Cholesterol That are Good for You
In moderation, eggs and full-fat cheese can be good for you given their high calcium and protein content. Shellfish and sardines are high in cholesterol but rich in vitamin D, B12, and iron. Full-fat yogurt is also packed with nutrients while also acting as an effective probiotic.
Of course, fried, fast, and processed foods are terrible for you. But not because they’re high in cholesterol, but because they’re high in every other thing that’s bad for you.
Further, anything that negatively affects the liver (alcohol) should be avoided as well.
What About the Egg Controversy?
If you’re plugged into the newest health food developments, you no doubt saw the Journal of the American Medical Association study about the connection between eggs and higher cholesterol. However, the study relied on people not changing their diets for 20 years straight and taking the word of the subject instead of ongoing observation. More research needs to be done.
For right now, however, eggs are an incredibly great source protein and a viable source of good cholesterol. And if you’re still concerned about it, do not go for egg whites. Most of the nutrients are in the yoke. Instead, just substitute eggs for something else entirely.
As with a rock-hard six-pack, cholesterol starts in the kitchen. Follow the above advice so you know what to avoid eating.
However, a good workout will actually lower LDL and raise HDL. That means the combination of diet and exercise is key. An active lifestyle is essential for healthy living. If you’re not at least moderately exercising at least 30 minutes per day, five days per week, you’re not balancing your cholesterol as well as you could be – and probably should be.