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The Truth About Heart Health and Cholesterol

corporate wellness nutrition May 17, 2023
The Truth About Heart Health and Cholesterol

When it comes to heart health, cholesterol has long been a focus of attention.

I mean, who knew that something so tasty could cause so much trouble?

It's like biting into a juicy burger at your favorite restaurant and having your doctor pop out from behind a fake Ficus tree, yelling, "Surprise! High cholesterol!"

However, recent studies have challenged the widely held belief that high cholesterol levels alone are the primary cause of heart disease.

In this lesson you'll learn the truth about cholesterol and its relationship with heart health, plus debunk some common myths along the way.

The Truth About Heart Health and Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that plays a crucial role in the body.

It is an essential constituent of cell membranes and serves as a building block for various important compounds, including vitamin D, sex hormones, and bile acids necessary for digestion.

Your liver is primarily responsible for producing cholesterol, while a smaller amount is absorbed from what you eat and drink.

Cholesterol travels through your bloodstream in particles called lipoproteins.

The two main types are high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL).

HDL, often referred to as the "good" cholesterol, helps transport triglycerides and removes LDL from the body by delivering it to the liver.

It's like the bouncer at the bar, kicking out all the troublemakers and keeping your arteries clear.

Higher levels of HDL are protective against cardiovascular disease.

On the other hand, LDL, known as the "bad" cholesterol, can contribute to the development of heart disease if it becomes oxidized or damaged.

Debunking Cholesterol Myths

Cholesterol is like that annoying coworker who always shows up uninvited to the party.

You're having a good time, enjoying a plate of fried chicken, and then bam! Cholesterol comes in and crashes the party, clogging up your arteries like it's nobody's business.

But, like an uninvited guest, there are a few myths that need to go away.

1. Normal cholesterol levels do not guarantee protection against heart disease

A 2009 study published in the American Heart Journal revealed that nearly 75% of patients hospitalized for heart attacks had total cholesterol levels within the normal range.

This finding suggests that cholesterol levels alone may not be the best predictor of heart disease risk.

2. Eggs are not the enemy

This eggs-will-clog-your-arteries thing is getting out of hand. For years, saturated fat has been vilified as a major contributor to heart disease. 

I mean, first they tell you don't eat eggs, then they tell you to eat just the egg whites.

Next thing you know, they're gonna say you can only eat the shell.

I mean, come on, how much more ridiculous can it get?

You see, the relationship between eggs and cholesterol has been a topic of debate and misinformation in the past.

Eggs do contain cholesterol, specifically in the yolk, which has led to concerns about their impact on blood cholesterol levels.

However, it is important to repeat that dietary cholesterol does not have as significant an impact on blood cholesterol levels as once believed.

Studies conducted in recent years have provided evidence that the dietary cholesterol in eggs has a minimal effect on blood cholesterol levels for most individuals.

Your liver is responsible for producing cholesterol, and when dietary cholesterol intake increases, it compensates by producing less of the waxy stuff.

This helps maintain a healthy balance in your body.

Moreover, it has been found that for many people, the consumption of eggs does not significantly raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

In fact, eggs can have several positive effects on blood lipid profiles.

They can increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, improve the LDL particle size from the smaller, denser pattern B to the larger, fluffier pattern A, and even contribute to the overall improvement of the cholesterol ratio.

Also, it's important to note that individuals with specific health conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolemia or type 2 diabetes, may be more sensitive to dietary cholesterol.

For these individuals, it is recommended to limit dietary cholesterol intake, including eggs, as part of a heart-healthy nutrition plan.

It's also worth mentioning that the impact of eggs on cholesterol levels can vary depending on how they are prepared.

When eggs are cooked in unhealthy fats or served with high-saturated-fat foods like bacon or sausage, the overall effect on cholesterol levels may be different compared to consuming eggs in healthier/more boring preparations.

Think poached eggs.

3. Sugar and inflammation

Chronic inflammation is now recognized as a significant factor in heart disease and other degenerative conditions.

Oxidized LDL cholesterol, caused by inflammation, adheres to arterial walls, initiating the development of atherosclerosis.

Sugar, along with processed carbohydrates, is a primary dietary contributor to inflammation in the body.

It also increases triglyceride levels, which are independent risk factors for heart disease.

But hey, let's look on the bright side.

Cholesterol keeps the pharmaceutical companies in business.

I swear, those guys must be high-fiving each other every time someone orders a statin prescription.

How to Prioritize Heart Health

To promote heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, it's important to focus on more than just cholesterol levels.

Here are some key steps you can take:

Eliminate harmful foods: If you want to keep your heart happy, remove sugar, soda, processed carbs, trans fats, processed meats, soybean and vegetable oils from your diet.

These items contribute to inflammation, increase triglyceride levels, and raise the risk of heart disease.

Embrace heart-healthy choices: Opt for foods such as wild salmon, grass-fed meat, vegetables, nuts, extra virgin olive oil (best for cold uses), coconut oil, and avocados.

These choices provide essential nutrients, healthy fats, and antioxidants that support heart health.

Address other risk factors: Hypertension (high blood pressure) and an unfavorable ratio of triglycerides to HDL are stronger predictors of heart disease than cholesterol levels alone.

Prioritize maintaining a healthy blood pressure, managing stress levels, and reducing triglycerides through dietary choices... like eating piles of kale.

Reduce stress:

Chronic stress can contribute to heart disease. 

And it's not just the big things that make you crazy. Stress is like that sneaky little thief who can steal your happiness over the tiniest of things.

Like when you're stuck in traffic and your favorite song comes on the radio, but you can't enjoy it because all you can think about is being late for your colonoscopy.

Thanks, stress!

Incorporate stress-reducing practices like meditation, deep breathing exercises, expressing emotions, engaging in play, cultivating intimacy, and finding pleasure in everyday life.

You know, simple pleasures like the sweet sedation you get at a colonoscopy. It's like you drank three pina coladas on a tropical vacation, but no hangover. 

Summary: 

While cholesterol is important, high levels alone may not be the primary cause of heart disease. And dietary cholesterol has a minimal effect for most individuals. Inflammation, specifically caused by sugar and processed carbohydrates, is a more significant factor in heart disease. To prioritize heart health, eliminate harmful foods, embrace heart-healthy choices, reduce stress, and address other risk factors like high blood pressure and triglyceride levels.

To your success,

Coach Joe

 


 

Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.

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