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The 5 Myths of Cholesterol

Cholesterol is always a hot topic, with millions of dollars spent on medication to lower LDL ("bad cholesterol") and raise HDL ("good cholesterol"). While we may think we know everything about it, here are 5 myths about cholesterol that you need to be aware of.

1. American's Have the Highest Cholesterol - Though we may have one of the highest obesity rates in the world, we are actually middle-of-the-road when it comes to cholesterol. (Those Big Macs can't be too bad right?) According to a 2005 study, American men were 83rd for cholesterol, and women came in at 81st in the world. While this study is somewhat outdated, there is no way that we moved up to #1.

2. Eggs are the Enemy - It's true that eggs have a lot of dietary cholesterol—upwards of 200 mg.  Though this is more than two-thirds of the American Heart Association's recommended limit of 300 mg a day, new research shows dietary cholesterol isn't as dangerous as was once thought. Only some of the cholesterol in food ends up as cholesterol in your bloodstream, and if your dietary cholesterol intake rises, your body compensates by producing less cholesterol of its own. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and contain unsaturated fat, which are both great for the body. Eggs are okay people, just don't eat them everyday.

3. Kids Never Have High Cholesterol - Many people think that cholesterol is just a middle-age worry, but the clogging of arteries can occur as early as age 8! Children who are overweight and obese or have a family history of cholesterol should have their kids tested. Children with high cholesterol should have no more than 7% of their calories come from saturated fat, and keep dietary cholesterol below 200 mg.

4. "0 mg cholesterol" Means it's Good for You - The cholesterol portion on the nutrition label is referring to dietary cholesterol, which can lead to higher overall cholesterol levels. However, it is the LEAST important factor in raising cholesterol levels. The biggest factor:  a high fat diet. Instead of focusing on "0 mg cholesterol" cut back on saturated and trans fat, which has a bigger impact on LDL (low-density lipoprotein), or the "bad" cholesterol. Saturated fats comes from many diary products an trans fat can be found in many packaged foods.

5. Cholesterol is All Bad - Cholesterol is essential is for various processes in the body, including providing structure for cell membranes. Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream by low-density and high-density lipoproteins (LDL and HDL). LDL, known as bad cholesterol, and not the cholesterol it carries per se, is responsible for atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of arteries due to clogging from plaque.

We hope that knowing these five myths will help you make better eating and life choices in the future! Now go eat some eggs (but not too many)!

Interested in learning more about the 5 Myths? Check out the article from Health.