The Cholesterol Myth

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Dr. Justin Hildebrand

Fotolia_52347451_LMany of us have heard that eggs yolks, red meats, shrimp and many other foods are high in cholesterol and should be avoided to reduce your overall cholesterol. But is this correct?

First, cholesterol is fat that your body needs to produce strong cells that can move and bend in day to day activities. Without this substance we could not survive. Cholesterol is vital to your body’s cells. Too much or excess cholesterol can cause the formation of plaque, making it harder for your heart to circulate blood. These plagues can lead to strokes and heart attaches.

For years the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that the US government has issued has told us and our doctors that if one has high cholesterol than it must have come from the food that we eat. Turns out this is not as accurate then it appears.  Only about 15% of your total cholesterol comes from what you eat and 85% is produced by your own body.

Cholesterol is created in the liver and excess should be broken down by the liver and removed from the body. It is this system that is the primary cause of high cholesterol. This knowledge has led the government to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol. They are now saying that “Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” To reduce your cholesterol exercise is key and increasing your fiber intake with help remove it from your blood.

This does not mean that you should indulge on steak, eggs, and cheeseburgers every day but it does mean that high cholesterol foods are safe to eat in moderation. The ban on cholesterol years ago may have shifted our diets from balanced to one high in sugars which causes all of us to pack on the pounds.

Remember for healthy individuals red meats, shrimp and eggs are perfectly fine to eat as long as you are getting your share of fruits and vegetables.

 

Yours in health,

Dr. Justin Hildebrand

KC North Spine & Joint Center

Kansas City, MO