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Cholesterol myths are circulating everywhere, with most serving to vilify this often misunderstood substance. This article seeks to debunk some of the commonly circulated myths concerning cholesterol and its relationship to high blood pressure.
Fact: Almost 75% of people who end up in the hospital with a heart attack have LDL or bad cholesterol levels that fall within the acceptable targets. While close to 50% have optimal cholesterol levels.
Research has found that levels of good protective HDL cholesterol have fallen in heart attack patients over the last couple of years. This drop has been attributed to a possible increase in obesity, diabetes and resistance to insulin.
Fact: The size of LDL particles is of no consequence. Think of bullets and beach balls. Some particles of LDL are small and dense, which makes it easier for them to penetrate the lining of your arteries leading to plaque formation.
On the other hand, others are big and fluffy, which causes them to bounce off the artery walls.
Individuals who mainly have small, dense LDL cholesterol particles are three times as likely to suffer from heart attack as those with the big, fluffy LDL cholesterol particles.
Fact: While it is true that eggs are high in dietary cholesterol with levels upwards of 200mg mainly in the yolk. Studies have found that eating three or more eggs per day boosts the blood concentrations of both good and bad cholesterol.
The LDL particles in eggs tend to be light and fluffy, and are thereby least likely to enter the arterial walls, while the increased levels of HDL assist in maintaining clean arteries.
This suggests that the bodies of most individuals are able to handle cholesterol from eggs in a way that is not likely to cause harm to the heart.
Fact: The majority of the risk of coronary heart disease is not as a result of cholesterol. Studies in recent years have found that the problem does not only stem from a passive infiltration of cholesterol, but also from the fact that this triggers an inflammatory/immune process.
Some individuals will experience a greater inflammatory process than others.
As with most other diseases, genetic predisposition is one of the main causes of coronary heart disease. Some individuals are simply more prone to high LDL levels, LDL oxidation, blood clotting and easily damaged arteries.
Other strong predictors of coronary heart disease are family history of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking.
Anger and stress are other significant factors.
Most of our preconceptions regarding high blood pressure high cholesterol are based on misinformation and myth. Clearly, scientist will have to do more before we get the full story on cholesterol.
In the meantime, stick to the old rules and eat a balanced diet based on whole foods, engage in regular exercise, maintain a healthy body weight, avoid stress and consult your doctor with regards to blood pressure testing.
I hope I was able to debunk most of the cholesterol myths that are out there.