Navigating the highs and lows of cholesterol myths

12 percent of people older than 20, suffer from high cholesterol. Not all cholesterol is bad. Your body actually needs some GOOD cholesterol.

In the U.S., 12% of people 20 years or older have high cholesterol. Awareness about cholesterol ranges from your primary care doctor to the honeybee on the side of your Cheerios box, but what’s really true when it comes to your cholesterol?

“Our guidelines have suggested that lower and lower levels of the bad cholesterol LDL are associated with a reduction in the risk of death, heart attack and stroke,” Dr. Steven Nissen, of Cleveland Clinic, told Ivanhoe.

But is it true that all cholesterol is bad?

Your body needs cholesterol to perform essential functions such as making hormones and building cells. HDL, or good cholesterol, carries bad cholesterol back to the liver, which then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for stroke and heart disease.

“Getting the bad cholesterol levels down to really low levels, down in the twenties and thirties can actually remove plaque from the coronary arteries,” Nissen said.

Here’s another one: your weight is healthy, so you won’t develop high cholesterol? False!

While cholesterol can be maintained through diet and weight management, high cholesterol can also be genetic. You would experience symptoms if you had high cholesterol? False is correct!

High cholesterol won’t cause any symptoms unless it becomes dire, such as a heart attack, chest pain, or sudden death. Prior to these events, there are no symptoms, which is why it’s best to schedule a regular blood test.

Another tip? Here are two foods you may not have known will help reduce cholesterol: Eggplant, and okra! Just some ways to keep your diet focused on lowering your cholesterol.