Separating Fact from Fiction About Cholesterol
Many people are unaware of how cholesterol affects their overall health. But in order to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, it’s important for everyone to know what separates fact from fiction when talking about cholesterol.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a healthy level is less than 170 mg/dL of total cholesterol. Learn how to maintain that level by checking out the facts—and weeding out the fiction—about cholesterol.
Fiction: Only adults get high cholesterol.
Fact: Children and teens can have high cholesterol, too. More than one-fifth of American kids age 12-19 have at least one abnormal lipid level. That means they have high blood levels of LDL, the “bad cholesterol.”
Fiction: All cholesterol is bad.
Fact: HDL is high-density lipoprotein. It carries cholesterol to the liver, and the liver flushes it out of the body. High levels of HDL are a good thing, as it decreases your risk of developing a heart condition.
Fiction: I can sense when my cholesterol is getting high.
Fact: Without signs or symptoms, the only way to tell if your cholesterol is high is by getting a blood test. The CDC recommends getting your cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years. Ask your doctor about the testing frequency that is right for you.
Fiction: Skinny people don’t get high cholesterol.
Fact: While those that are overweight are more likely to have high cholesterol, anybody can get it. People who consume too much saturated or trans fats in the foods they eat are at risk for developing high cholesterol, no matter their weight.
Fiction: Women don’t need to worry about high cholesterol.
Fact: High cholesterol affects both men and women. As people get older, their cholesterol levels are more likely to rise, too.
Fiction: I maintain a healthy diet and exercise, so high cholesterol doesn’t affect me.
Fact: Other factors, such as being overweight, getting older and heredity can also affect cholesterol levels. Nonetheless, maintaining a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise are important for cardiovascular health.
Fiction: I can’t do anything to manage my cholesterol levels.
Fact: There are several things you can do to balance your cholesterol levels.
- Get tested
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Maintain an active lifestyle
- Don’t smoke
- Check for family history of cholesterol and heart disease
Fiction: I take medicine for my cholesterol, so I don’t have to adjust my lifestyle.
Fact: While medicine can help manage cholesterol levels, diet and exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.