I have been meaning to write this post for awhile, but i kept skipping it because i had other posts to make. Then 2 weeks ago, i met a certified fitness trainer (he has like 6 or 7 different certifications) and we were talking and he mentioned "i told my client not to eat eggs and seafood because it causes high cholesterol". Now, i am sure many of you out there have also heard the same statement how red meat, eggs, prawns, sotong and of course, santan are all high cholesterol foods. And therefore consuming them will cause your blood cholesterol levels to go up. So to stay healthy you should avoid all these foods.
I understand why many people still believe this - its because many years ago, scientist and doctors believed that this was true. They did a bunch of basic experiments and based on those results they came up with this. However, with our better understanding of science today, we are realizing that many of these statements are no longer true. With better research and technology today, we are able to conduct better experiments. Lets put it this way. Research indicates that 90% of people will die on a bed. Does this mean that sleeping is dangerous for you? When you take things in isolation, it just doesn't make sense. But you can't just take 2 elements and stick together just because there is a slight correlation.
Now, does eating high cholesterol food raise the cholesterol level in your blood? Well lets find out what cholesterol is first and whether we need it. Cholesterol is an essential component of our cell membranes and it acts as an anti-oxidant as well as a precursor for the synthesis of vitamin D, bile for digesting fats. It is the only source out of which our steroid hormones, such as cortisol, as well as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone which are key to reproduction, can be made. Cholesterol is also the precursor to calcitrol, the steroid hormone that regulates calcium levels in our bodies by helping us absorb calcium from our food, thus playing a key role in the mineralization of our bones and teeth. Sounds important? Therefore it is safe to say that without cholesterol you would not survive. Now of course, with everything good, too much of it is bad. But does your diet really cause high blood cholesterol?
The fact is, your body manufactures 80% to 85% of your body's cholesterol needs. The remaining 15% - 20% comes from external sources or your food. When there is too much cholesterol coming in from external sources (from eating) your body will adjust and reduce the amount of production. Its like a thermostat in an air cond. When the room gets cold, it shuts off the AC and only turns on again when the temperature goes up. Unfortunately, many people who have high blood cholesterol today, they have a problem with this thermostat and their body is unable to control the amount of cholesterol produced by your body. So it is just running on auto pilot despite the amount of cholesterol you are eating. This is why there are many people who eat healthy diets their whole life and abstain from high cholesterol food, yet they are diagnosed with high blood cholesterol before the age of 40. And many others who have always consumed high cholesterol foods since young, yet their cholesterol levels are perfectly fine.
So what causes this "thermostat" to stop working? The answer, no one knows. Most probably its just plain genetics. If you have parents and grand parents who are suffering from high cholesterol, chances are, you too may be affected. So get yourself checked often.
Now of course if you already have high blood cholesterol, i would not recommend you to continue eating foods high in cholesterol. YES, you will want to turn it down. BUT this does not mean that eating high cholesterol food causes high blood cholesterol. It doesn't mean the same thing at all. So how do you lower you blood cholesterol levels? Here are a few ways
1) Taking statin drugs - If your cholesterol levels are critical, then the use of statin drugs may be your only hope. Of course, statin drugs have a whole lot of side effects on their own, but thats a discussion you should have with your doctor. Not your personal trainer
2) Increase intake of fish oil - Eating lots of fish is good for you and in fact people are starting to notice that cultures which consume a lot of fish, live a lot longer than those who don't. You can also take fish oil supplements that come capsules. It really does help a lot.
3) Increase intake of soluble fiber - Latest research indicates that diets high in soluble fiber help to lower blood cholesterol levels. Now before you ask, let me explain. Soluble fiber is different from insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber attracts water to it, and turns to a gel like substance when wet. Insoluble fiber is usually found in vegetables and just helps to add bulk and of course help with you doing your "business" everyday. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, pears and some other fruits and vegetables.
So there you have it. The low down on cholesterol and it is not caused by eating high cholesterol food. I would recommend that you do a blood check every 2 to 3 years and check with your doctor on what is the best solution for you. Now latest research is also showing that high blood cholesterol does not cause heart attacks, but heck, that is another discussion all together. As usual, look forward to hearing your comments.