The Myth of Cholesterol
I have high blood cholesterol so should I avoid seafood because it's high in cholesterol?
Many think that cholesterol in seafood will increase the cholesterol in
blood. Indeed, cholesterol found in seafood or other meats has little
effect on blood cholesterol in MOST people. Saturated fats and trans
fattty acids are the most important factors that raise blood
cholesterol, not dietary cholesterol!
Saturated fats are found in some pre-packaged food or other processed
foods containing shortening or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Trans fatty acids, on the other hand, are also found in packaged snack
foods, deep-fried foods or firm margarine containing hydrogenated oil.
Is all cholesterol in my body bad?
Our body does need cholesterol to make bile salts, hormones and vitamin
D. It is mainly produced by our liver. Cholesterol will build up on the
artery walls when the level of cholesterol in the blood is too high.
There are 2 main types of blood cholesterol: LDL (the "Bad"
cholesterol) and HDL (the "Good" cholesterol). High amounts of the bad
LDL will deposit cholesterol on the artery walls forming plaques. More
and more plaques will narrow the arteries lumen and may eventually
block blood flow. Therefore LDL is considered the "Bad" cholesterol.
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats found in nuts and fish
for instance, can lower the LDL level. In addition, soluble fiber found
in fruits, oats, barley, and legumes can also lower LDL. The good HDL,
on the other hand, takes excess cholesterol away and carries it back to
the liver to be excreted. It can also remove some of the cholesterol
already attached to the artery walls. Therefore HDL is considered the
"Good" cholesterol as high levels of HDL in the blood can decrease the
risk of heart disease. Physical activity can also raise HDL level.
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