Cholesterol myths busted [Eat food you thought you could not]

Cholesterol myths busted

Cholesterol myths busted like fat is always bad for the body, also checking healthy red meat consumption per week and foods that causes most heart problems.

Cholesterol myths busted:

Our health is at stake when we are influenced by misleading information and the more serious the health condition, the more we rely on reliable sources for information for healthy eating.

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in the blood. There are two types of cholesterol, High-density lipoprotein (HDL) and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is "good" cholesterol that protects against cardiovascular disease and LDL is "bad" cholesterol. The problem with LDL is that it builds up on the wall of the arteries.

In this section we will provide some cholesterol myths busted and insight if cholesterol diet is really needed. Furthermore, it will address some of the myths about good and bad cholesterol levels in order to help you understand why this lipid might not be as harmful as it is made out to be.

Cholesterol myths No 1: There is fat that is good for the body:

With fat being in the nutrition spotlight so much in recent times, it's hardly surprising that most people simply believe that all fat is bad. So faced with a high cholesterol problem, many people vigorously aim to eliminate all spreads and sauces, cook without oil, steer clear of nuts and avocado, shop for fat-free products and start reading the fat counts in recipes. 

While this will obviously benefit our waistline (and many with high cholesterol are carrying too much body fat), it's not the best strategy for their heart or their long-term health. In fact, for lowering cholesterol and eating healthily, only the 'bad' saturated fat needs to be kept low as the others can be a big help in healthy eating.

Cholesterol myths No 2: Healthy fats:

Healthy fats come in three forms:

1. Polyunsaturated fats:

Found in oils, wheatgerm and many nuts, these are on the Heart Foundation's approved list because of their excellent ability to drive down a high cholesterol. They're also the major source of vitamin E in the Australian diet.

2. Monounsaturated fats:

Found in olive, canola oils, macadamias and avocado.  Monounsaturated fat show evidence to reduce insulin resistance although, not to the same extent as the omega-6 polyunsaturates as mentioned above however, still they tend to be more stable and less likely to oxidise than polyunsaturates, so they draw less on your body's pool of antioxidants. The Mediterranean diet, widely recognised for its healthy heart profile is the opposite of the fashionable low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. It's high in fat, but the fat is largely monounsaturated being derived from olive oil and good for health.

3. Omega-3s:

From oily fish and other sources can steady the rhythm of the heartbeat, lower blood pressure and keep the blood flowing freely and without clots or clumps.

So, the fat message needs to be tailored for cholesterol lowering as healthy fat is OK to keep blood cholesterol levels in control and to reduce heart attacks risk.

cholesterol myths busted
cholesterol myths busted

Cholesterol myths No 3: Overlooking abdominal fat:

The fat you accumulate around your midsection (bellies) is related to your likelihood of developing heart disease and diabetes. According to studies, abdominal fat is more metabolically active and enters the bloodstream faster than fat that is stored for a long time around the hips and thighs. As the rule of thumb states, we should aim to reduce our waist size by the same or less than our hip size.

Cholesterol myths No 4: Thinking you can't eat eggs at all:

Not so. Even the strictest cholesterol-lowering regime allows two eggs a week with the provision that they are not fried in butter or drowned in cream. The negative publicity eggs received in the 1980s due to their high cholesterol still lingers on reflected in the steady decline in the number of eggs consumed since then. It's not just eggs other high-cholesterol foods such as prawns, squid (calamari), brains and liver can be consumed but limited to twice a week.

Cholesterol myths No 5: Not eating red meat:

Older analyses of meat often derived from the US, puts beef and lamb into the 'avoid' category on the basis of their  high saturated fat levels. As US and European cattle are often grain-fed and housed indoors during winter months, their cuts are more likely to be marbled with fat and less suitable. In contrast, in Australia animals graze on grass and the butchers trim away visible fat. 

Hence, Latest analysis shows that red meat has anywhere between 2% to 5% fat, similar to chicken with the skin removed at around 1% to 4%. So red meat has a place alongside white meats like chicken and veal.

Don't completely exclude red meat out of your diet instead, Consume no more than one or two servings of red meat per week, which is six ounces or less. Red meat intake should be limited to less than or equal to 3 ounces per week if you have heart disease or high cholesterol. 

Cholesterol myths
Cholesterol myths:

Cholesterol myths No 7: Not realising that diabetes and heart disease are connected:

Diabetes increases the risk of heart problems by two to four times. Heart disease overlaps with many diabetes complications such as overweight, high blood pressure, clotting and circulation problems. Several symptoms are grouped together under this name - the Metabolic Syndrome (once called Syndrome X). Sugar restriction is not as important as it once was. Sugar will mean fewer calories taken in and less junk food eaten but it's not the cause of diabetes or heart disease (whether consumed as soft drinks or confectionery).

Cholesterol myths No 6: Only buying foods labelled 'No cholesterol:

Cholesterol is not the same as fat. A food can have absolutely no cholesterol yet still be high in saturated fat as it happens with potato crisps, corn chips, fries, pies, pizza, biscuits, sauces and doughnuts. These foods are all cooked with vegetable oil such as palm oil, which has no cholesterol (being of plant origin) but is high in saturated fat. Not surprisingly, we can get confused - it's helpful if you can make the distinction between these foods. The foods that can rightfully claim 'no cholesterol', and 'healthy fats' are nuts, avocado, mayonnaise, hommus, oils and most margarines.

Cholesterol myths No 8: Thinking nuts are bad for you:

A handful of nuts a day (30 g to 50 g) now has the blessing of cardiologists, thanks to almost a dozen recent studies on almonds, walnuts, macadamias and peanuts. Whether that's due to their 'good' fats, their vitamin E, fibre, minerals (like magnesium and selenium) or their arginine (an amino acid) is not yet known but nuts make a healthier snack than crisps or chips, are portable and need no refrigeration. Obviously, the best form to consume them is lightly roasted and unsalted, but if you can't get anything else, salted is OK because the salt doesn't stick to nuts well. Or for fat-phobic clients, you can suggest using them as an ingredient in cooking by tossing a few into salads and stir-fries as they get a lot of flavour for only little fat. 

Cholesterol myths No 9: Not applying the GI to heart problems:

According to Brand Miller et al. (2001), the Glycemic Index (GI) measures how quickly foods affect blood glucose levels. While endurance athletes have been aware of the benefits of slow-release carbohydrates for some time, recent studies clearly place the Glycemic index as one of the best ways to keep the heart healthy. In a 2000 Harvard University study of over 75,000 nurses, it was found that those who regularly consume high GI foods are twice as likely to experience a heart attack as those who consume lower GI foods. It makes sense then, to choose carbs that are slowly digested and absorbed, such as pasta over rice or potatoes, whole grain bread over white or brown, yoghurt and nuts over snacks, and lentils or chickpeas in curries.

Among the four kinds of fats that are found in our food, trans fat, known as partially hydrogenated oil,is the worst. Baking ingredients, such as trans fats, increase bad LDL cholesterol levels. Saturated fats found in animal products such as red meat and butter have the same effect.

By replacing unhealthy saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, you lower your LDL cholesterol levels which are a heart healthy diet and reduce the heart attack risk.

Cholesterol myths 10: Reliance on supplements:

Diet changes are much more powerful than taking the many heart-friendly supplements available. A number of pooled studies have shown that suppliments like , coenzyme Q, hawthorn, fish oil, and vitamin E  amongst others may all be beneficial but their effect is modest and often only effective when taken as part of a low-fat diet. Therefore, the use of supplements alone is not enough as they have a very small role to play in a program that also includes diet, exercise, stress management, and no smoking.


There's no short cut or magic bullet to lower cholesterol. Best results will only be obtained by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise. You should consult your GP, physician or a professional dietician every three months for a review, especially if aged over 50 years.

There are multiple myths about high cholesterol levels but some of them are true and the most common myth is that cholesterol is always bad for your heart. In reality, it only becomes harmful when you consume a diet high in saturated fat or processed foods.

More Information:

CDC: Cholesterol

Also read: Fried egg calories.