An estimated 99 million Americans have high cholesterol—and while most people think they know a lot about cholesterol, most of this information is probably just a myth.
Here, the most common myths about cholesterol, debunked, from the cardiovascular experts at St. Luke’s Center for Lipid Disorders:
MYTH: Cholesterol is bad. The truth is your body needs cholesterol—most of which is produced by the liver—for a number of processes including the production of hormones, cell membranes, vitamin D, and bile acids that help to digest fats. It’s also critical for proper brain functioning. Just as with anything, too much cholesterol is bad for you.
MYTH: Eggs are unhealthy. Whole eggs are actually healthy for you. They’re rich in nutrients like protein; heart-healthy fat; and vitamins B and D. Eggs only have a slight effect on overall cholesterol levels. Unless your St. Luke’s cardiologist has advised you against eating them, go ahead and enjoy no more than two eggs a day.
MYTH: Statins are the only way to lower cholesterol. These medications can, and do, help, but eating a healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, lean meat and fish, healthy fats, and whole grains), moving your body every day, not smoking, getting enough sleep, and managing stress are equally important, too.
MYTH: Low fat is best. You need healthy fats in your diet for a healthy heart, brain, and body. Healthy fats are unsaturated fats, which include olive oil, nuts, and omega-3 fatty acids. Unhealthy fats (limit these as much as possible) are saturated fats. These include high-fat dairy, red meat, fried foods, and the trans-fats found in processed foods like pastries.
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol levels, schedule an appointment with one of the expert cardiologists at St. Luke’s Hospital to discuss how you can manage yours.