Cholesterol Myths And Facts
Cholesterol can be confusing! Learn answers to common questions about blood cholesterol.
What do your cholesterol numbers mean? Can the foods you eat change your cholesterol levels?
Learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. Then commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Commit to getting your cholesterol checked this year so you know your numbers and your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Saturated Fat Increases Good Cholesterol Levels
The FATFUNC study challenges the theory that the route to heart disease from saturated fat is paved by raising levels of bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood. The study authors not only observed no significant rise in LDL cholesterol, but they also found that the high-fat diet was only associated with an increase in good cholesterol levels.
These results indicate that most healthy people probably tolerate a high intake of saturated fat well, as long as the fat quality is good and total energy intake is not too high. It may even be healthy.
Future studies should examine which people or patients may need to limit their intake of saturated fat, points out Dankel, who led the study together with the director of the laboratory clinics, Prof. Gunnar Mellgren, at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway.
But the alleged health risks of eating good-quality fats have been greatly exaggerated. It may be more important for public health to encourage reductions in processed flour-based products, highly processed fats, and foods with added sugar, Dankel concludes.
Do Saturated Fats Raise Cholesterol
Saturated fats are a type of fat found in coconut oil, red meat, butter, eggs, and cheese. These foods were falsely blamed for contributing to heart disease for years. As explained above, saturated fats increase the large, fluffy, harmless, beach ball LDL particles. These cholesterol particles are not troublesome. So, the more relevant question is are saturated fats good or bad? Recent research shows that saturated fats are NOT linked to heart disease. But where did we get the idea that saturated fats are bad?
In the 1950s a psychologist Ancel Keyes formulated the diet-heart hypothesis which theorized: saturated fat increased cholesterol, and cholesterol caused heart disease. However, this was only a hypothesis based on cherry-picked observational data, not valid experiments. Keyes was passionate and took his theory to Congress and the diet-heart hypothesis was adopted as fact. Fats were deemed as the enemy and the low-fat diet craze started. When fats were removed from processed food, sugar was added . Meanwhile, other valid studies showed sugars detriment to heart disease, weight gain and Type 2 Diabetes, but public health continued on the low-fat diet craze. Ancel Keyes hypothesis has since been disproven. Recent research shows that eating saturated fat does not cause heart disease. Avoidance of saturated fat to reduce heart disease is outdated and experts are now changing their recommendations.
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Good Monounsaturated And Polyunsaturated Fats
Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. They differ from saturated fats by having fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid. There are two broad categories of beneficial fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats. When you dip your bread in olive oil at an Italian restaurant, you’re getting mostly monounsaturated fat. Monounsaturated fats have a single carbon-to-carbon double bond. The result is that it has two fewer hydrogen atoms than a saturated fat and a bend at the double bond. This structure keeps monounsaturated fats liquid at room temperature.
Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
The discovery that monounsaturated fat could be healthful came from the Seven Countries Study during the 1960s. It revealed that people in Greece and other parts of the Mediterranean region enjoyed a low rate of heart disease despite a high-fat diet. The main fat in their diet, though, was not the saturated animal fat common in countries with higher rates of heart disease. It was olive oil, which contains mainly monounsaturated fat. This finding produced a surge of interest in olive oil and the “Mediterranean diet,” a style of eating regarded as a healthful choice today.
How Monounsaturated Fats Affect Your Health
Monounsaturated fats are good for your health in several ways:
- They can help lower your LDL cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that can cause clogged, or blocked, arteries . Keeping your LDL level low reduces your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Monounsaturated fats help develop and maintain your cells.
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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 (
What Is The Bad Type Of Cholesterol
Cholesterol travels through the blood to proteins called lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body: LDL , sometimes called bad cholesterol, which makes up most of your bodys cholesterol.
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How Much Is Too Much Saturated Fats
Most foods you choose should contain no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. To help lower your LDL cholesterol, no more than 5 to 6 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from saturated fats. Use the list below to figure out the maximum amount of saturated fat you can have each day.
- Daily Calories:1,200
- Daily Saturated Fat Limit : 7-8g
Quality Of Fat And Carbohydrates Drives A Healthy Diet
The current theory surrounding saturated fat would suggest that the high-fat, low-carbohydrate group would be at greater risk of heart disease than the low-fat, high-carbohydrate group. However, this was not the case there was no difference between the groups.
The very high intake of total and saturated fat did not increase the calculated risk of cardiovascular diseases, says professor and cardiologist Ottar Nygård, who contributed to the study.
Participants on the very high-fat diet also had substantial improvements in several important cardiometabolic risk factors, such as ectopic fat storage, blood pressure, blood lipids , insulin and blood sugar, he adds.
We here looked at effects of total and saturated fat in the context of a healthy diet rich in fresh, lowly processed and nutritious foods, including high amounts of vegetables and rice instead of flour-based products, says Ph.D. candidate Vivian Veum. The fat sources were also lowly processed, mainly butter, cream, and cold-pressed oils.
The intake of energy, proteins, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and food types was similar across both groups, with variation mainly in quantity. The intake of added sugar was kept to a minimum.
The energy intake of both groups was mostly within normal range. Those participants that increased their energy intake still saw a reduction in fat stores and risk of disease.
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Does Unsaturated Fat Increase Hdl
polyunsaturated fatunsaturated fatfats
. In this manner, does unsaturated fat affect cholesterol?
Unsaturated fatPolyunsaturated fats have more than one unsaturated carbon bonds. Both of these unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. Eaten in moderation, both kinds of unsaturated fats may help to improve your blood cholesterol when used in place of saturated and trans fats.
Also Know, what foods are high in unsaturated fat? Dietary sources of unsaturated fats include:
- avocados and avocado oil.
- peanut butter and peanut oil.
- vegetable oils, such as sunflower, corn, or canola.
- fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel.
- nuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, cashews, and sesame seeds.
Thereof, is unsaturated fat good for you?
Unsaturated fats are considered the healthyfats and theyre important to include as part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels and have other health benefits when they replace saturated fats in the diet.
What effect does polyunsaturated fat have on HDL and LDL levels?
Polyunsaturated fats decrease LDL and total cholesterol 8% to 12% when compared with saturated fatty acids, Gillingham says. Consuming EPA and DHA, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, can improve blood triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, she says.
How Fat Moves From Food To The Bloodstream
Fat and cholesterol cant dissolve in water or blood. Instead, the body packages fat and cholesterol into tiny, protein-covered particles called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins can transport a lot of fat they mix easily with blood and flow with it. Some of these particles are big and fluffy, while others are small and dense. The most important ones are low-density lipoproteins , high-density lipoproteins , and triglycerides.
- Low Density lipoproteins
Low-density lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
- High-density lipoproteins
High-density lipoproteins scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.
Limiting Saturated And Trans Fats
Here are some ways to lower your intake of saturated and trans fats:
- Maintain a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Also limit red meat and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.
- Opt for naturally occurring unhydrogenated vegetable oils such as canola, safflower, sunflower or olive oil.
- Look for processed foods made with unhydrogenated oil rather than saturated fat or hydrogenated vegetable oils.
- Use soft margarine as a substitute for butter and choose soft margarines over harder stick forms. Look for 0 g trans fat on the Nutrition Facts label.
- Doughnuts, cookies, crackers, muffins, pies and cakes are examples of foods high in trans fat. Dont eat them often.
- Limit commercially fried foods and baked goods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These foods are very high in fat, and its likely to be trans fat.
- Limit fried fast food. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats are still made by hydrogenation and contain saturated and trans fats.
Consider using a food diary to keep track of what you eat. Its a handy way to evaluate the healthy, not-so-healthy and unhealthy foods youre making a part of your everyday diet.
The Ins And Outs Of Unsaturated Fats
Unsaturated fats are considered the healthy fats and theyre important to include as part of a healthy diet. These fats help reduce the risk of high blood cholesterol levels and have other health benefits when they replace saturated fats in the diet.
Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, unlike saturated fats that are solid at room temperature. Healthy unsaturated fats come in two main forms, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. These differ in their chemical structure and they have slightly different health benefits as a result.
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Everyone Responds To Dietary Cholesterol The Same Way
Although some genetic and metabolic factors may warrant following a diet lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, for the majority of the population, saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods can be included as part of a healthy diet.
About two-thirds of the population has minimal to no response to even large amounts of dietary cholesterol and are known as compensators or hypo-responders.
Alternatively, a small percentage of the population is considered hyper-responders or noncompensators, as they are sensitive to dietary cholesterol and experience much larger increases in blood cholesterol after eating cholesterol-rich foods .
However, research shows that, even in hyper-responders, the LDL-to-HDL ratio is maintained after cholesterol intake, meaning that dietary cholesterol is unlikely to lead to changes in blood lipid levels that increase the risk of heart disease progression .
This is due to adaptations that take place in the body, including enhancement of certain cholesterol removal pathways, to excrete excess cholesterol and maintain healthy blood lipid levels.
Even so, some research has shown that people with familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that may increase heart disease risk, have a reduced capacity to remove excess cholesterol from the body .
Not everyone responds to dietary cholesterol in the same way. Genetics play an important role in how your body responds to cholesterol-rich foods.
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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What Should You Eat
Until science figures out the answer, what should you eat?
Donât view the study as a green light to load up on butter, steak, and cheese. Be smart about the saturated fats in your diet.
âCountless studies show that if you replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat, you do get a reduction in heart disease risk,â says Alice Lichtenstein, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston. Polyunsaturated fats, often called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, come from vegetable oils — soybean, corn, and canola — and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, and trout. They are also found in most nuts, especially walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, and brazil nuts.
The best way to prevent heart disease may be to eat more whole, unprocessed foods. So eat fish, beans, fruits, vegetables, brown rice, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and olive oils, and even some animal products like yogurt and high-quality meat and cheese. The Mediterranean diet, which draws about 45% of calories from fat — including small amounts of saturated fat — is a good choice.
And remember: Diet isnât the only reason people get or donât get heart disease. Your genes and lifestyle habits also play a part.
Limit Bad Fats And Cholesterol
Research shows that there isn’t really a link between how much fat you eat and your risk of disease. The biggest influence on your risk is the type of fat you eat. Two unhealthy fats, including saturated and trans fats, increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood cholesterol and increase your risk of developing heart disease. However, two very different types of fat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do just the opposite. In fact, research shows that cutting back on saturated fat and replacing it with mono and polyunsaturated fats can help lower the level of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
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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.
1. Check the labels
When youre shopping, check the labels of products to see how much fat they contain and how much they will add 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.
2. Compare products
Sometimes similar products contain very different amounts fat. Check a few options before you buy.
3. Bake, steam, grill or boil instead of frying
4. Make simple swaps
Have a look at the foods high in saturated fat and some healthier alternatives with these simple swaps.
5. Choose healthy snacks