Is cholesterol really that bad?

By September 28, 2017Cholesterol

How can something that is essential for brain function be bad for you Kung Fu Panda 1 Download? This­ is exactly the reputation that cholesterol has earned through the years. And yet, “Cholesterol is necessary to build and maintain cell membranes,” explains Dr David Perlmutter, in the book Brain Maker. “In fact, it’s vital for brain neuron function.”

How publicity made the good guy look bad

A few years ago, based on conflicting medical opinions, people ditched bacon and eggs for muesli, dumped butter for margarine and ran screaming at the mention of cholesterol. It was pinpointed as the main cause of atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in your arteries which cause an obstruction of blood flow).

Since then, HDL has been dubbed as “good” cholesterol, because it helps remove cholesterol from the arteries. LDL, on the other hand, has been dubbed as “bad” cholesterol, because high levels have previously been linked to build-up in the arteries.

What experts are now learning, is that the cholesterol we get from food may not influence the cholesterol levels in the body after all.

Breaking news! Cholesterol may have been innocent

A study by the American Journal of Nutrition shed some interesting insight into cholesterol, saturated fat and overall cardiovascular health. The study worked from the premise of early studies, showing that high intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol led to arthrosclerosis related issues.

After extensive trials they found: “Intake of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD. A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

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Another more recent study in Future Medicine puts forward that dietary sources of cholesterol don’t play a role in increased risk of heart disease. Similar results come from the British Medical Journal: “Higher consumption of foods that contained high levels of LDL cholesterol did not increase the risk of coronary heart disease and, in fact, reduced the risk of developing a hemorrhagic stroke.”

Still, that’s not to say we should all be diving headfirst into a vat of butter. While cholesterol may have been excessively vilified, you still need to be pragmatic about how much is too much – and why.

How much is too much?

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), healthy people should stick to about 300 milligrams a day. For those with heart disease, diabetes and other coronary risk factors, 200 milligrams looks like the magic number.

Optimistically though, with all this new research, experts tentatively believe these guidelines might be too strict and are looking into raising the limits to 500 milligram a day for health people. Don’t get carried away though – have a chat with your doctor to hone in on what will work for you. Or, you can even talk to one of ours. Just download the Hello Doctor app and request a call.