One of the most common diseases worldwide, with the highest mortality and morbidity rate, is cardiovascular disease. One of the major risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease is high cholesterol levels. What kind of myths and facts exist about cholesterol?

Cholesterol is essential for health

Fact. Cholesterol is essential for health, as it is a structural molecule of cell membranes, it participates in the immunization of the organism as well as in the function of brain and nerve cells. Cholesterol is a molecule that is transported via blood circulation with lipoproteins, a group of compounds such as LDL and HDL cholesterol.

Hypercholesterolemia is caused by food cholesterol

Myth. Dietary cholesterol does not significantly affect serum cholesterol levels. However, because food with high cholesterol are very likely to have a high content in fat, it is advisable to take into account the total cholesterol intake per day. According to the recommendations, dietary cholesterol should not exceed 300mg / day for healthy population, while for people with hypercholesterolemia the daily intake should be limited to 200mg / day.

LDL cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease

Fact. LDL is a low density lipoprotein, which has the role of transferring molecules of cholesterol through blood circulation from the liver to peripheral tissues. At high concentrations, LDL adheres to the walls of arteries, gradually creating atherosclerotic plaques. The result is to reduce the diameter of the vessels and thus increase the chance of thrombosis. Because of the ebove action it is also known as “bad” cholesterol.

If HDL cholesterol levels are high, LDL cholesterol should not be treated

Myth. HDL cholesterol, a high density lipoprotein, has the role of transferring molecules of cholesterol from peripheral tissues back to the liver for further metabolism. For this reason it is also known as the “good” one cholesterol. High HDL levels can counteract high LDL levels, but this is not a treatment. People with hypercholesterolemia should advise their doctor whether or not to take medication or even supplements in order to reduce LDL cholesterol.

A low fat diet is suitable for people with hypercholesterolemia

Fact. A general goal it is to increse HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol levels. Food low in saturated and trans fatty acids, appear to have a positive effect on serum cholesterol levels, as they are the main causative dietary factors. Western diet is characterized by food with high-content both in saturated and processed fat.

Statins are the only therapeutic option for people with hypercholesterolemia

Myth. Statins are the most known and widely used medicine for reducing serum cholesterol levels. However, many undesirable reactions have been observed from their use. Alternatively, dietary supplements can also help reduce cholesterol levels by having similar action to that of statins. Such a dietary supplement is a substance called red yeast rice.

Egg consumption is allowed for people with high cholesterol

Fact. Although in the past people believe that should not eat eggs, nowadays it is a busted myth. Dietary cholesterol, which is found in the yolk, is not  responsible for the increase in blood cholesterol. Based on that, international organizations suggest that healthy people can consume at least 7 eggs per week, while people with hypercholesterolemia can eat up to 3.

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