There's a lot of misinformation about diets and cholesterol online, partly because research has changed the guidelines over time. So what’s true, and what’s outdated? Here is a quick guide to the most popular cholesterol myths!
Cholesterol myth #1: Eggs are the cause of elevated cholesterol levels
This myth goes back to the days when people thought that eating cholesterol in food was the main source of cholesterol in the body. So the cholesterol in eggs put them on a dietary black list, along with a few other foods.
In fact, eggs and cholesterol-conscious diets can be compatible, as long as your overall diet is varied and balanced. The NHS recommends that people who wish to lower their cholesterol instead concentrate on the type of fat they are eating – more on that below.
Cholesterol myth #2: All fats are bad!
Not true! Fats are a necessary part of a balanced diet, and have a purpose in the body. Instead of trying to avoid fat altogether, the recommendation is to swap saturated fat for unsaturated fat in the diet, which is proven to lower cholesterol levels*. It’s also important to keep your intake within the recommended limits overall.
Cholesterol myth #3: Alcohol and cholesterol-conscious diets don’t mix
The main thing to remember about alcohol – be it beer, wine, or spirits – is to stick within the recommended limits. Watch your intake, and drink responsibly.
Cholesterol myth #4: Eating shrimp is what raises cholesterol levels
The truth about shrimp and cholesterol (and other shellfish) echoes the egg facts above. People who ask “Is shrimp high in cholesterol?” should know that while it does contain cholesterol, it can still be part of your cholesterol-lowering diet.
What you might want to change is how you cook things like shrimp and eggs, avoiding adding foods high in saturated fat (like butter) to them during the cooking process. Instead, try to use alternatives that are high in unsaturated fat. Vegetable oils and products made from them, like soft spreads or liquid margarine, are good options.
Cholesterol myth #5: You can lower your cholesterol with this one trick…
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels can be pretty simple, but there’s no one single magic trick. Eating plant sterols** and swapping saturated fat for unsaturated fat can both help to lower cholesterol, but it’s also important to have a varied and balanced diet overall, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Keeping active is also key for a healthy lifestyle. Find our list of cholesterol lowering tips here.
If you have any more questions about these cholesterol myths, don’t be afraid to reach out to a healthcare professional for advice. We also have plenty of tips here on the ProActiv site! Check out our Cholesterol Explained section for handy guides to all the tough cholesterol terms, and find out more about lowering cholesterol here.
*Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.
**Flora ProActiv contains plant sterols. A daily intake of 1.5 – 2.4g sterols can lower cholesterol by 7 – 10% in 2 – 3 weeks as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle including plenty of fruits and vegetables. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. As coronary heart disease has many risk factors, more than one may need to be improved to reduce overall risk. Individual results may vary.