Good cholesterol. Bad cholesterol. High cholesterol. Low cholesterol. It’s all so confusing. Need help sorting it out? Cholesterol is a kind of fat called a lipid: our livers produce it, and also we consume it in certain kinds of food. If too much builds up in our system, it could lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke. So let’s run down the top four cholesterol myths, according to Health magazine:
- Myth #1: Americans have the highest cholesterol in the world. False! According to the World Health Organization, we rank #83 in the world, pretty far down on the list, with an average total cholesterol count of 197. This is just below the generally accepted cut-off for risk – which is 200. Colombia tops the rankings with an average of 244, with Israel, Norway, Libya and Uruguay in a four-way tie for second. As a nation, our propensity toward obesity is much more of a problem than our cholesterol levels.
- Myth #2: All cholesterol is bad. False, again! The cholesterol that our bodies naturally produce plays an important part in keeping us healthy, including insulating nerve cells in our brain and helping to provide structure for the membranes of other cells.
- Myth #3: Eggs are bad for you. Nope, go ahead and keep them on the menu. It’s true that eggs do have about 200 milligrams of cholesterol, but only part of this ends up in our bloodstream. So, a couple servings of eggs a week isn’t bad for you at all. In fact, eggs are a great source of protein and unsaturated fat.
- Myth #4: If a food contains “zero” cholesterol, this is the best choice to help you fight high cholesterol. Not true. Good for you for reading nutritional labels, but know this: Foods high in saturated fat – like dairy and animal products - and trans-fat, like you find in a lot of packaged foods, are the big culprits for pushing your cholesterol count into the danger zone.