The Cholesterol Conundrum: Separating Facts from Fiction
Cholesterol often gets a bad rap. It’s associated with fatty foods, clogged arteries, and heart disease. But did you know your body actually needs cholesterol to function properly? Let’s debunk some myths and clarify the role of cholesterol in your health.
Myth: All cholesterol is bad.
Fact: Cholesterol is a fatty substance your body needs to build cell membranes and produce certain hormones1. There are two main types: LDL (often dubbed “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (called “good” cholesterol). While high levels of LDL can lead to heart disease, HDL can help protect against it by removing LDL from the bloodstream2.
Myth: Eating cholesterol-rich foods like eggs will skyrocket your cholesterol levels.
Fact: The majority of cholesterol in your body is produced by your liver and doesn’t come directly from the cholesterol you eat3. In fact, studies have shown that eating eggs doesn’t have a significant impact on LDL cholesterol for most people4.
Myth: Only adults need to worry about cholesterol.
Fact: Children can also have high cholesterol, and it can lead to health problems later in life. It’s wise for children to get their cholesterol checked if there’s a family history of heart disease5.
Myth: Thin people don’t have high cholesterol.
Fact: While being overweight can increase the risk of high cholesterol, thin people can have high cholesterol too. Diet, physical activity, and genetics are all factors that can affect cholesterol levels6.
Myth: If your cholesterol is high, you’ll have noticeable symptoms.
Fact: High cholesterol doesn’t cause symptoms. The only way to know your cholesterol levels is through a blood test7.
Understanding cholesterol is vital for maintaining heart health. Talk to your healthcare provider about your cholesterol levels and any potential risks.
1. Mayo Clinic. Cholesterol: Understand the numbers.(June 2023) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192″>Accessed 1 September 2023
2. American Heart Association. HDL Cholesterol, LDL Cholesterol, and Triglycerides. (November 2020) https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cholesterol/hdl-good-ldl-bad-cholesterol-and-triglycerides Accessed 1 September 2023
3. Harvard Health Publishing. How it’s made: Cholesterol production in your body. (February 2017) https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/how-its-made-cholesterol-production-in-your-body Accessed 1 September 2023
4. Eggs and Cholesterol — How Many Eggs Can You Safely Eat? (February 2023) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-eggs-should-you-eat Accessed 1 September 2023
5. High cholesterol in children: How is it treated? (October 2022) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/expert-answers/high-cholesterol-in-children/faq-20058392 Accessed 1 September 2023
6. WebMD. Cholesterol Myths and Facts. (July 2022) https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/ss/slideshow-myths-facts-manage-high-cholesterol Accessed 1 September 2023
7. CDC. High Cholesterol Facts. (May 2023) https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm Accessed 1 September 2023