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Facts and Myths on Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in all of the cells of the body. Our body needs some cholesterol to function and makes all the cholesterol it needs to keep you healthy. Cholesterol is also present in some of the foods we eat. It is used to make Vitamin D, hormones, and substances that help food digestion.

What is HDL and LDL Cholesterol?

Our blood is a water-based, but cholesterol is an oily substance. As a result, the two do not mix well. So, for cholesterol to travel in the bloodstream, it is carried in packets called lipoproteins. These packets are made of fat (lipo) inside. and proteins on the outer layer. Two kinds of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout our body, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).

o LDL Cholesterol (the “Bad” Cholesterol)

High levels of LDL Cholesterol leads to an accumulation of cholesterol in our arteries, this is “bad” as it clogs them, giving a greater chance of heart disease.

o HDL Cholesterol (the “Good” Cholesterol)

This carries cholesterol from other parts of our body back to our liver. The liver then removes the cholesterol from our body. The higher your HDL cholesterol level, the lower your chances of getting heart disease.

Cholesterol Myths and Facts

1 . The only effective way to lower cholesterol is with drugs.

Fact: These drugs do not improve heart mortality or total mortality as the effect is only to lower cholesterol. In fact these drugs may be dangerous to our health and can shorten your life.

2 . High blood cholesterol causes atherosclerosis

Fact: Many studies have shown that people with high blood cholesterol become just as atherosclerotic as people whose cholesterol is low.

3. Our body produces three to four times more cholesterol than we eat.

Fact: The production of cholesterol increases when you eat little cholesterol and decreases when you eat much. This explains why the “prudent” diet cannot lower cholesterol more than on average by a few per cent.

4. The Statins prevent heart disease by lowering Cholesterol.

Fact: These drugs do help prevent cardio-vascular disease, but this is due to other mechanisms than cholesterol-lowering. Unfortunately, they also stimulate cancer in rodents, disturb the functions of the muscles, the brain and the heart. Additionally, pregnant women taking Statins may give birth to children with malformations.

5. Cholesterol is a deadly poison.

Fact: Cholesterol is a substance vital to the cells of all mammals. All cholesterol is not bad, but mental stress, physical activity and change of body weight may influence the level of blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is not dangerous by itself, but may reflect an unhealthy condition, or it may be totally innocent.