Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Leading a heart-healthy lifestyle includes managing our cholesterol. So, let's talk about it!
Cholesterol can be tricky to navigate because there is so much information out there and some of it is controversial and even downright untrue. We thought we'd take some time to debunk these myths and facts about cholesterol and give you some tips to keep your cholesterol in check.
But wait, what is cholesterol in the first place?
You've undoubtedly heard about cholesterol; good, bad, high, low...But what is it really?
Cholesterol is a wax-like substance found in the blood. Our bodies use cholesterol to build healthy cells (yay!) But too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. You've likely heard about the role cholesterol plays in increasing the risk of heart disease. While this is true, it is important that we are getting adequate levels of cholesterol to keep our cells happy and healthy.
Let's talk myths...
Myth #1: All cholesterol is bad
Your body actually needs some types of cholesterol for good health and to perform certain jobs such as making hormones and building cells.
Cholesterol travels through the blood on 2 types of lipoproteins; LDL and HDL.
Low-Density Lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as the 'bad' cholesterol. This actually makes up most of your body's cholesterol and having high levels can increase your risk of heart disease.
High-Density Lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as the 'good guy.' This carries cholesterol back to the liver which then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Myth #2: Eating foods high in cholesterol, like eggs, will raise my cholesterol.
The biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet - not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food. For a heart-healthy diet, limit foods high in trans fats, sugar, and processed carbohydrates. These all cause inflammation.
Instead, choose whole foods, lower in saturated fats and high in fiber instead of focusing on cholesterol alone! You can eat all the eggs you like, but skip the Froot Loops and save bacon as a treat once in a while!
Myth #3: All fats are bad
Not all fats are created equal. Some fats are great for you, and others not so much.
The ones you want to moderate are trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils which are found in a lot of your baked goods and processed foods. Another is saturated fats which come from animal products such as red meat or butter.
Other fats, such as monosaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in foods such as olive oil. salmon and nuts are the good stuff and are an essential part of a heart-healthy diet!
Want to know more about oxidized fats and their impact on your system? Check this article out!
From the Kitchen
Salmon Tostadas with Citrus-Kale Slaw
Heart-Healthy Omega-3 packed salmon is the star of this show accompanied by another healthy-fat partner - the avocado! This colorful meal is sure to please your palate and your heart.
Thanks to @eatingwell for the recipe!