Eating less fat or not consuming foods that contain cholesterol are some of the common myths about cholesterol diets. We tell you about it in this article.
Suffering from high cholesterol is more and more common in our society, for this reason it is easy for clichés or false myths to arise when it comes to giving advice on how to lower it. In this regard, in this article we address the most common myths about diets for cholesterol.
What are the myths about cholesterol diets?
To first know how these clichés spread, we need to know what hypercholesterolemia is and what it can mean for our health.
What is high cholesterol?
Hypercholesterolemia is a disease that people suffer from when cholesterol levels in the blood are high. This condition can predispose to cardiovascular disease, as it promotes the formation of atheroma plaque.
Having bad cholesterol (LDL) above the limits causes molecules to carry it in the blood, crossing the vascular wall of the arteries. Right there it oxidizes, triggering an inflammatory response in our body.
M in cholesterol is only a cardiovascular risk indicator among many. In the analyzes, in addition to looking at the “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol”, it is also necessary to analyze the values relating to inflammation and whether these cholesterol molecules are large or small.
Should you follow a low-fat diet?
This cliché has practically always existed. If cholesterol is transported by lipids, logic dictates that lowering the fat content of our diet will also lower the cholesterol level, especially when it comes to saturated fat.
However, recent studies have demystified this point, as it would appear that saturated fats are more present in HDL , or good cholesterol, than in LDL. Saturated fat was also observed to have no effect on the incidence of coronary heart disease.
Very often we replace these saturated fats with refined grains, and it’s not the right choice. The diet must be healthy and include the right amount of fat. The best fats are found in:
- Blue fish.
- Dried fruit.
- Extra virgin olive oil.
Common Myths About Cholesterol Diets: Does Eating Cholesterol Raise Cholesterol Levels?
This cliché has its roots in eggs. It was, and still is, a widespread opinion that they were rich in cholesterol, so their high consumption would result in an increase in blood cholesterol levels. Today, however, numerous studies have shown that this is not the case. Consuming eggs regularly as part of a healthy diet can actually increase good cholesterol levels, as shown in this study .
Most studies reveal no association between cholesterol consumption and its presence in the blood. Our body has a cholesterol modulation system that moderates its synthesis in order to produce the necessary quantity . The more the diet provides, the less the body produces, and vice versa.
Should you take more fats of vegetable origin and less of animal origin?
The answer to this question depends on the type of fat contained in each food. Vegetable fats – such as palm oil , which is mainly present in confectionery products and ultra-refined foods – are harmful to cardiovascular risk. Even highly processed seed oils, which contain high amounts of omega-6, can be pro-inflammatory.
Trans or hydrogenated fats, also found in ultra-refined foods, are more harmful than animal fats. For this reason, should we replace butter with margarine? Not necessarily, as margarine usually contains hydrogenated fats; on the contrary, butter contains saturated fat.
As for animal fats, it must be said that the fats of fish (polyunsaturated) are better than those of meat (saturated ), especially if the latter has been processed.
Food tips to lower cholesterol
- The type of fats that we should consume in greater quantities are those that come from nuts and seeds, fish (especially blue) and extra virgin olive oil. Conversely, we should reduce the consumption of fats contained in processed meat and dairy products.
- Limit the consumption of pastries and ultra-processed foods , as they contain trans or hydrogenated fats, refined flours, refined oils and high amounts of sugar, which increase cholesterol levels.
- Increase the consumption of soluble fiber, as it blocks the intestinal absorption of fats and cholesterol. They are found in whole grains, vegetables and legumes.