10 myths about cholesterol

Cholesterol is widely known as one of the enemies of cardiovascular health.

Despite its popularity, there are many misconceptions around it. This can lead to it not being properly monitored or treated, thus increasing the risk of different cardiovascular conditions. Learn here the most common myths about cholesterol and the answers of the experts.

Myth 1: All cholesterol is bad

Response: This is a widespread belief but not true. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance found in every cell in the body and we need it to make vitamin D, hormones, and compounds that aid digestion.

Although the body can generate it on its own, it also obtains it from different foods, mainly of animal origin, such as cheese or meat.

The blood carries cholesterol to the cells through particles called lipoproteins. Two of the most important are low-density cholesterol (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol (it transports cholesterol from the liver to the cells, where it is used in various processes), and high-density cholesterol (HDL) or “bad” cholesterol. good” (carries cholesterol back to the liver to be eliminated later).

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Myth 2: Nothing can be done to lower cholesterol levels

Response: Fortunately, hypercholesterolemia, that is, high levels of cholesterol in the blood, can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes in your diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, avoiding or limiting alcohol, and, if necessary, taking medications prescribed by your health care professional.

Myth 3: Cholesterol should only be controlled after the age of 40

ResponseHealth authorities agree that cholesterol levels should be tested once between ages 9 and 11, again between ages 17 and 21, and then every four to six years. These times may be shorter for children, youth, or adults with risk factors or a family history of early heart disease.

Myth 4: Only men should worry about cholesterol levels

Response: Although atherosclerosis (the accumulation of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the walls of the arteries) tends to affect men more than women, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in women.

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According to health professionals, women, after losing the protective effects of estrogen, begin to accelerate their risk of heart disease and develop the same risk as men.

Because women develop heart disease later in life and live longer, more heart attacks are reported annually in female populations than in male populations.

Myth 5: Kids don’t need to worry about cholesterol

Response: Although it is more common for high cholesterol levels to be seen in adults, children can also suffer from them. There is even a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia, in which children can inherit high cholesterol levels from their mother, father, or both. These children are at high risk for heart attacks or strokes at an early age.

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Myth 6: I don’t have to worry about cholesterol if I’m at a healthy weight

Response: People with any body type can have high cholesterol levels. Although being overweight or obese increases the chance of hypercholesterolemia, being thin is no guarantee of protection.

This is because cholesterol levels are also affected by other factors, such as genetics, diet, lifestyle, physical activity level, thyroid function, and medication use.

Myth 7: If I have high cholesterol I would have symptoms

Response: In most cases, high cholesterol does not cause symptoms, except in late stages, when the accumulation in the arteries is excessive and causes obstruction of the heart and blood vessels.

Therefore, the best way to know them is through frequent blood tests. As we noted, these may be less consistent when a person is young, but as we age they should become part of our routine checkups.

Myth 8: Only eating fat raises cholesterol levels

Response: Although saturated and trans fats are the main ones pointed out by the increases in cholesterol levels, they are not the only ones responsible. People who have diets high in sugars or simple carbohydrates may also experience hypercholesterolemia.

Myth 9: If I take medications, like statins, I don’t need to exercise or eat a healthy diet

ResponseNote: While it’s important to take medications when recommended by a doctor, this doesn’t mean you can neglect other aspects of your lifestyle. For example, taking statins helps lower “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood, but does not help control or lose weight.

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If you do not maintain a healthy diet, rich in vegetables, fruits, cereals and legumes, and in turn complement it with a sedentary lifestyle, the risk of being overweight or obese will increase, and with it the chances of suffering from other conditions.

Myth 10: We all have the same cholesterol goals

Response: To know and determine if cholesterol or triglyceride levels in the blood are healthy or not, certain values ​​were determined that are measured in milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dl) of blood. However, it does not mean that we should all aim to find ourselves within those values.

For example, in people who do not have any cardiovascular problems, the “bad” cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dl. However, for those with diabetes or heart or blood vessel disease, the “bad” cholesterol should be less than 70 mg/dl.

To remind:

Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.

Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, talk to your doctor first about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.

Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.

Sources consulted: American Heart Association, Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

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