High cholesterol: Is it really deadly for heart? Nutritionist busts common myths

Sep 05, 2022 02:37 PM IST

Cholesterol is not your enemy, says Nutritionist Bhakti Kapoor, while explaining the real reason why it turns deadly.

High cholesterol has been cited as one of the common reasons of heart diseases in recent decades. But is it really the villain of our life? Not all types of cholesterol are bad; it fact performs a series of important functions in the body from contributing in structure of the cell, create Vitamin D and sex hormones apart from assisting in absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Cholesterol is transported through LDL and HDL lipoproteins. While LDL carries cholesterol from the liver to the body's cells, tissues and arteries, HDL helps in removing excess LDL from the body. (Also read: High cholesterol: Healthy fruits to lower bad cholesterol levels)

High cholesterol: Is it really deadly for heart? Nutritionist busts common myths(Shutterstock)
High cholesterol: Is it really deadly for heart? Nutritionist busts common myths(Shutterstock)

"Cholesterol is a vital component of the entire cell membrane. There is no life on Earth that can live without cholesterol. Lowering cholesterol too much increases the risk of dying early. Cholesterol is also a precursor to all steroidal hormones. That is, you cannot produce estrogen, testosterone, cortisone and a host of other vital cholesterol-free hormone," says Nutritionist Bhakti Kapoor in her recent Instagram post.

Kapoor says cholesterol becomes a problem when certain types of cholesterol (small, dense, LDL particles) contribute in oxidation of free radicals in the body that can lead to inflammation and plaque formation in the arteries, restricting blood flow and contributing to heart disease. Free radicals in the body can be generated from excess PUFAs (vegetable oils), smoking cigarettes, processed foods, immune cell activation, mental stress, cancer, aging ischemia among others.

Nutritionist Bhakti Kapoor busts popular cholesterol myths in her post.


Truth: Cholesterol is a necessary component of every cell In the body. It supports the structure of cells, forms the basis of Vitamin D and other sex hormones, aid in absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.


Truth: 20-25% of the cholesterol in our blood comes from the food we eat, 75-80% is made by the liver.

Certain conditions may have an impact on the liver producing more cholesterol like insulin resistance and Type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, adrenal dysfunction, stress, genetics among others.

About 15-25% of the population are hyper-responders, meaning that based on their genetics, they may experience a ~3x greater response to dietary cholesterol compared to the rest of the population (think: higher blood cholesterol levels)


Truth: Simply checking your LDL-C (concentration) on a standard lipid label is an inaccurate marker of cardiovascular disease risk. People with "good" LDL levels still have heart attacks. Rancid or oxidized cholesterol that results in heart attacks/stroke results from oxidative stress and free radicals, triggering a vicious cycle of inflammation and plaque deposition under the artery walls.

The real danger occurs when LDL (the cholesterol you do NOT want to be high) particles become oxidized and start the build-up of plaque or cholesterol deposits in your arteries.

"That's why a diet full of fruits and vegetables containing high levels of antioxidants, or anti-oxidizers, is a lifesaver. Plants take the oxidation out of our arterial walls," concludes Kapoor.

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