Aim For Cholesterol Balance When Eating Eggs For Breakfast
Once banned from the breakfast table, eggs are now generally considered a relatively healthy choice within limits.
A study published in May 2018 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating up to 12 eggs per week did not increase the risk of heart disease for people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. However, the whole diet must be considered.
So if you have an egg for breakfast, don’t have a cheeseburger for lunch.
Aim for balance, says Kristi King, RDN, a clinical instructor at the Baylor College of Medicine and the senior dietitian at Texas Childrens Hospital in Houston. If you are going to consume fried chicken, add a salad instead of fries. If you want fries, get the grilled chicken to go with it.
What Is Unsaturated Fat
Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. They differ from saturated fats in that their chemical structure contains one or more double bonds. They can be further categorized as:
- Monounsaturated fats: This type of unsaturated fat contains only one double bond in its structure. Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and include canola oil and olive oil.
- Polyunsaturated fats: This type of unsaturated fat contains two or more double bonds in their structure. They are liquid at room temperature. Polyunsaturated fats include safflower oil, sunflower oil, and corn oil.
How Does Saturated Fat Raise Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is made and broken down in the liver. Eating foods that have too much saturated fat, and too little unsaturated fat, changes the way the liver handles cholesterol.
Our liver cells have LDL receptors on them. When LDL cholesterol passes by in the blood, these receptors take the cholesterol out of the blood and into the liver to be broken down. Research suggests that eating too much saturated fat stops the receptors from working so well, and cholesterol builds up in the blood.
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What You Should Worry About
Should you actually worry about cholesterol in food? The greater danger for everyone is in foods that are high in trans fats.
Those often appear on food labels as hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, he says. Those types of fats do tend to raise cholesterol and do tend to increase the risk of heart disease.
All in all, look for trans fat and saturated fat on labels at the grocery store. The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary saturated fat intake and focusing more on eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean animal protein or plant protein sources.
How Fat And Cholesterol In Food Affect Blood Cholesterol Levels
The types of fat in the diet help determine the amount of total, HDL, and LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. The types and amount of carbohydrate in the diet also play a role. Cholesterol in food matters, too, but not nearly as much.
- The discovery half a century ago that high blood cholesterol levels were strongly associated with an increased risk for heart disease triggered numerous warnings to avoid foods that contain cholesterol, especially eggs and liver. However, scientific studies show a weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol a person consumes and his or her blood cholesterol levels
- In studies of more than 80,000 female nurses, Harvard researchers found that consuming about an egg a day was not associated with higher risk of heart disease. However, people who have heart disease or diabetes should monitor egg consumption.
For most people, the amount of cholesterol eaten has only a modest impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood. For some people, though, blood cholesterol levels rise and fall very strongly in relation to the amount of cholesterol eaten. For these responders, avoiding cholesterol-rich foods can have a substantial effect on blood cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, at this point there is no way other than by trial and error to identify responders from non-responders to dietary cholesterol.
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Saturated Fatty Acids In Health And Disease
Saturated fatty acids are associated with many chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancers, and systemic inflammation.12 However, certain saturated fatty acids, ranging from 12 to 22 carbons, may play an important role in hormone production, cardiovascular health, gene transcription, lipogenesis, apoptosis, cellular membrane structure, and protein signaling.12,14,16,20
Dementia and Cognitive Decline
The saturated fatty acid link to dementia, elevated serum low-density lipoproteins , and other chronic conditions, was based on an association with elevated serum cholesterol and elevated SFA intake.68 However, a recent scientific trial failed to identify an association between SFA consumption and an increase in LDL cholesterol, visceral fat, or the incidence of metabolic syndrome, all of which are postulated to contribute to cognitive decline and dementia.21 This trial evaluated the effects of specific SFAs on lipid metabolism and noticed an alteration in the secretion and clearance of cholesterol.12 In descending order, the following SFAs raised total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol: myristic acid , lauric acid , and palmitic acid , but not stearic acid or medium-chain saturated fatty acids. 11,1416
Mary K. Downer, Ana Sánchez-Tainta, in, 2018
Other Concerns Over Saturated Fat Intake
Although its effect on heart disease is by far the most researched and contested, saturated fat has also been associated with other negative health effects, such as increased inflammation and mental decline.
For example, a study in 12 women found that, when compared with a diet high in unsaturated fat from hazelnut oil, a diet high in saturated fat from a blend of 89% palm oil increased the pro-inflammatory proteins interleukin-1 beta and interleukin-6 .
Some evidence suggests that saturated fats encourage inflammation partly by mimicking the actions of bacterial toxins called lipopolysaccharides, which have strong immunostimulant behaviors and can induce inflammation .
However, research in this area is far from conclusive, with some studies, including a 2017 review of randomized controlled trials, finding no significant associations between saturated fat and inflammation .
Additionally, some studies have demonstrated that saturated fat may have adverse effects on mental function, appetite, and metabolism. Yet, human research in these areas is limited and findings are inconsistent (
More studies are necessary to investigate these potential links before strong conclusions can be made.
Though saturated fat intake may increase heart disease risk factors, research hasnt shown a significant link between it and heart disease itself. Some studies indicate that it may negatively affect other health aspects, but more research is needed.
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How Is Cholesterol Measured
Most people with high cholesterol feel perfectly well and often have no symptoms. The best way to find out if your cholesterol is high is to have a blood test .
Visit your GP to determine whether you need to lower your cholesterol level and what action to take.
GPs can also do a heart health check, that calculates your heart disease and stroke risk.
Is Saturated Fat Unhealthy
Although research indicates that consuming some types of food high in saturated fat may adversely affect health, this information cant be generalized to all foods that contain saturated fat.
For example, a diet high in saturated fats in the form of fast food, fried products, sugary baked goods, and processed meats is likely to affect health differently than a diet high in saturated fats in the form of full fat dairy, grass-fed meat, and coconut.
Another problem lies in focusing solely on macronutrients and not the diet as a whole. Whether or not saturated fat increases disease risk likely depends on what foods its being replaced with or what its replacing and overall diet quality.
In other words, individual nutrients arent to blame for disease progression. Humans dont consume just fat or just carbs. Rather, these macronutrients are combined through consuming foods that contain a mixture of macronutrients.
Whats more, focusing exclusively on individual macronutrients rather than the diet as a whole doesnt take into consideration the effects of dietary constituents, such as added sugars, that may negatively affect health.
Lifestyle and genetic variants are important risk factors that should be considered as well, as both have been proven to affect overall health, dietary needs, and disease risk.
Clearly, the effect of diet as a whole is difficult to research.
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Myth #: Eating Cholesterol And Saturated Fat Raises Cholesterol Levels In The Blood
Most of us grew up being told that foods like red meat, eggs and bacon raise our cholesterol levels. This idea is so deeply ingrained in our cultural psyche that few people even question it. But is it really true?
The diet-heart hypothesiswhich holds that eating cholesterol and saturated fat raises cholesterol in our bloodoriginated with studies in both animals and humans more than half a century ago. However, more recent evidence doesnt support it.
Cholesterol and saturated fat: dietary enemies or innocent victims of bad science?
On any given day, we have between 1,100 and 1,700 milligrams of cholesterol in our body. 25% of that comes from our diet, and 75% is produced inside of our bodies by the liver. Much of the cholesterol thats found in food cant be absorbed by our bodies, and most of the cholesterol in our gut was first synthesized in body cells and ended up in the gut via the liver and gall bladder. The body tightly regulates the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling internal production when cholesterol intake in the diet goes down, the body makes more. When cholesterol intake in the diet goes up, the body makes less.
Another strike against the diet-heart hypothesis is that many of its original proponents havent believed it for at least two decades. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991, Ancel Keys, the founder of the diet-heart hypothesis said :
How To Cut Down On Fat And Saturated Fat
To reach and maintain a healthy weight, keep an eye on your saturated fat and total fat intake. Use these tips to help you.
Check the labels
When youre shopping, check the labels of products to see how much fat they contain and how much they will add up to the daily maximum. Look at the total fat and the saturated fat. Saturated fat might be written as sat fat or saturates.
- Choose foods that have more unsaturated than saturated fats.
- Go for foods that are labelled green or amber for saturated fat.
- Some foods that are high in fat such as oily fish, nuts, oils and spreads may be red for saturated fat. This is OK because these foods contain a higher proportion of the healthy unsaturated fats.
- Per 100g of food low-fat is 3g or less and low saturated fat is 1.5g or less.
- Per 100g of food high fat is 17.5g or more and high saturated fat is 5g or more.
Many foods have labels on the front of pack, making it easy to check the amount and type of fat they contain. If not, it should be on the back. When labels are colour-coded with red, amber and green, go for green and amber as much as possible.
Use the table as a guide for choosing healthy foods.
Sometimes similar products contain very different amounts fat. Check a few options before you buy.
Bake, steam, grill or boil instead of frying
Make simple swaps
Have a look at the foods high in saturated fat and some healthier alternatives with these simple swaps.
Choose healthy snacks
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Myth: Eating Foods With A Lot Of Cholesterol Will Not Make My Cholesterol Levels Go Up
Fact: It can be complicated. We know that foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so its best to choose foods that are lower in saturated fats. Foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats.
Instead, aim to eat foods with plenty of fiber, such as oatmeal and beans, and healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDCs nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
Is Saturated Fat Bad For You
Even today, the American Heart Association claims that eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke and recommends to replace foods high in saturated fats with foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This means eating foods made with liquid vegetable oil but not tropical oils.
Saturated fats provide cell membrane integrity and enhance the bodys ability to use essential fatty acids. They protect the liver and are the preferred food for the cardiovascular system and brain. They do not cause heart disease. Studies that indicate otherwise did not take into consideration the processed carbohydrates ingested by the study subjects.
Thats shocking considering that there is plenty of evidence that suggests most refined vegetable oils are worse for your health than high cholesterol.
As early as the 1950s, contrary to the lipid hypothesis, the prestigious cardiologist Dr. Dudley White had directly correlated the rise in heart disease with the rise in consumption of vegetable oils.
Saturated Fat Facts
Here are some quick facts about saturated facts
Evaluation of the fat in artery clogs reveals that only about 26 percent is saturated. The rest is unsaturated, of which more than half is polyunsaturated
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Saturated Fat Intake May Increase Heart Disease Risk Factors But Not Heart Disease Itself
Numerous studies have shown that saturated fat intake increases heart disease risk factors, including LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B . LDL transports cholesterol in the body. The greater the number of LDL particles, the greater the risk of heart disease.
ApoB is a protein and a main component of LDL. Its considered a strong predictor of heart disease risk .
Saturated fat intake has been shown to increase both of these risk factors, as well as the LDL to HDL ratio, which is another heart disease risk factor (
However, there have been conflicting findings, which can be attributed to the highly complex nature of this topic and the design and methodological flaws of currently available research, highlighting the need for future well-designed studies investigating this topic .
Plus, its important to remember that there are many types of saturated fat, each with its own effects on health. Most of the studies investigating the effects of saturated fat on disease risk discuss saturated fats in general, which is also problematic.
Myth: All Cholesterol Is Bad For You
Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells. Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:
- LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, makes up most of your bodys cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- HDL , or good cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina or a heart attack.
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Stay Away From Processed Food
When deciding what to put on your plate, choose simple foods that were available long before the food industry became involved. Namely, vegetables, seeds, seafood, meat and poultry. Animal fat and seasonal fruit were the main food sources of our ancestors for millions of years. Thats all that humans required to evolve into what we are today .
Ask yourself this question: Why have cases of cardiovascular disease and diabetes skyrocketed in western societies at the same time as our diet has shifted from a high-fat/low-carb diet to low-fat/high-carb?
Obesity is common, serious and costly
Saturated Fat As Part Of A Healthy Diet
Theres no question that foods high in saturated fat can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.
Coconut products, including unsweetened coconut flakes and coconut oil, grass-fed whole milk yogurt, and grass-fed meat are just some examples of highly nutritious foods concentrated in saturated fat that may positively affect health.
For example, reviews of research have shown that full fat dairy intake has a neutral or protective effect on heart disease risk, while coconut oil intake has been shown to boost HDL cholesterol and may benefit weight loss (
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Does Saturated Fat Cause High Cholesterol
Learn about saturated fats, and its relationship with LDL and HDL cholesterol.
Whats the deal with dietary fat? Is it good for us, is it bad for us, how do we measure levels of fat into our macronutrient plan? When living a healthy lifestyle comprised of a nutritious diet and a routine exercise plan, where does the role of consuming fat come to play?
The questions revolving around the conversation behind fat, go even further than our own comprehension. The first step to understanding the human bodys relationship to fat, is breaking down different kinds of fat. For example, whats the deal behind saturated fat? Everything from coconuts to bacon contain levels of saturated fat. With such a common thread of nutrients behind many of our beloved foods, how does it affect our cholesterol levels and underlying health.
While a complicated matter to understand, we spoke with health professionals to learn all about saturated fat and its relationship with cholesterol.