Myth: Eating Cholesterol-Rich Foods Raises Blood Cholesterol Levels

Myth: Eating Cholesterol-Rich Foods Raises Blood Cholesterol Levels

by Chris Masterjohn

The myth goes something like this: arteries are like pipes; cholesterol is gooey, sticky gunk. When you eat cholesterol, it winds up in your blood. If the cholesterol level in your blood gets too high, it starts caking up the pipes. Thus, if you don't want your pipes clogged, don't eat foods rich in cholesterol.

Such is the basic logic behind advice to avoid eating nutrient-dense foods like liver and egg yolks.

Eating Cholesterol Does Not Raise Blood Cholesterol Levels

The truth is, however, that there is no direct connection between the amount of cholesterol you eat and the concentration of cholesterol in your blood. In most people, eating cholesterol has little or no effect on this amount. In about 30 percent of the population, eating cholesterol does in fact increase the concentration of cholesterol in the blood — but it increases the "good" cholesterol.

Busting the Myth:
In over two thirds of the population, then, egg consumption leads to little or no change in cholesterol at all. In less than a third of the population, total cholesterol goes up, but both the ratio of LDL to HDL and the total number of LDL particles remains the same; the LDL particles just get bigger and safer.

If arteries were like pipes and cholesterol was like gunk, more gunk would just clog up the pipe — but arteries are nothing like pipes and cholesterol is nothing like gunk. Consider the myth busted.

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