Cholesterol may have a pretty bad reputation, but that’s mainly because people don’t understand it. Sure, high concentrations of bad cholesterol (LDL) can lead to heart attacks and strokes, but good cholesterol (HDL) is actually important for good health.
In fact, LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plaque. HDL actually works to clear cholesterol from the blood.
Here are seven reasons why you don’t need to fear cholesterol:
1. It’s necessary for your body
Your body needs cholesterol in order to produce growth hormones, bile (for digestion), and healthy cells. Cholesterol is naturally manufactured in the liver, and it’s a perfectly normal and natural substance. It’s only when levels of bad cholesterol get too high that problems set in.
2. Dietary cholesterol isn’t really a problem
The cholesterol in your food may not be as dangerous as you thought, or so says a U.S. advisory panel. Dietary cholesterol has little effect on your total cholesterol levels, which are affected by the amount of fat in your diet. High-cholesterol foods may not be nearly as dangerous as high fat foods!
3. Many cholesterol foods are also rich in nutrients
Take eggs, for example. Eggs have been demonized thanks to their high cholesterol levels, and people have avoided eating them in order to keep cholesterol levels low. But eggs are great for your health, thanks to the protein, B vitamins, and minerals they contain. If you don’t have high levels of LDL, then eating eggs is perfectly fine.
4. There’s good cholesterol, too
Not all cholesterol is “bad”. LDL cholesterol are the ones that increase your risk of heart problems, but don’t forget about HDL cholesterol. This type of cholesterol helps to control the other, keeping them in check and ensuring that the body can eliminate them when their levels are too high.
5. It’s easily controlled via exercise and diet
Cholesterol plays a role in a number of internal functions, so the body does have to produce some cholesterol in order to work smoothly. But how much cholesterol your body produces is up to you. If you do exercise, you boost HDL cholesterol production significantly. Eating the right foods also helps to keep triglyceride production in check, and a combination of a healthy diet and exercise program is usually more than enough to keep your cholesterol at a normal level.
6. It’s very likely caused by smoking and drinking
If you have an unhealthy lifestyle, you may find that your high cholesterol isn’t caused by what you eat, but more by what you drink and smoke. Smoking doesn’t just increase your risk of high cholesterol, but it makes it more likely that high cholesterol levels will kill you. Overdrinking also can cause high cholesterol, as cholesterol is produced in response to your stomach’s demand for more bile to break down alcohol. Cut back on your smoking and drinking, and you will see an immediate effect.