Many false beliefs surround the subject of cholesterol, a determining condition in the risk of heart disease. Know the most common myths that can harm your health and learn what you should do to keep it at a healthy range, according to the advice of the American Heart Association (AHA).

1. If I do not have symptoms, I have it under

False. High cholesterol has no symptoms and for this reason, many people do not know that it has gone up. Your doctor can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. The official National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that adults examine it every 5 years.

2. The doctor will tell me when to measure it

False. Your health is your responsibility. Ask your health professional how you should proceed to evaluate your cholesterol level and other risk factors, which should start from age 20 and up.

3. Thin people do not have it

False. A body type is not a synonym of high cholesterol, although overweight people tends to have hypercholesterolemia, thin ones may also have it. Generally, people who do not have weight problems worry less about the saturated fats and trans fats they eat, and so their cholesterol levels can be impacted.

So, should I take care of myself?
Yes. You cannot eat anything you want and stay healthy at heart. Have yourself check cholesterol regularly no matter your body type and lifestyle. People with high cholesterol have twice the risk of heart disease, a condition that affects 71 million people in the United States.

4. I must rely 100% on the labels

False. Foods nutrition labels are very useful, but you have to be careful. When choosing healthy foods for the heart, many claim that they are”low in cholesterol” but sometimes loaded in saturated fats and also in trans fats. Even those that are supposed to be “low in fat” may be high in fat.

5. Children do not have cholesterol

False. In some cases, children may also have high cholesterol, and if it does, they are at increased risk for heart disease when they are adults. Lack of regular physical activity, poor eating habits and genetics can affect a child’s cholesterol levels.

6. I am a woman: I am safe

False. Women may have some protection against high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol thanks to the female hormone estrogen, which tends to raise the level of HDL (good). But LDL tends to increase with age and in postmenopausal women.

7. I take medicine: I can eat everything

False. Medical treatment is prescribed for those who generally have high risks of heart disease and stroke. However, dieting and healthy lifestyle (not smoking and exercising) and also taking the prescription drug, are proactive steps against cardiovascular conditions

What to do?
To reduce or improve your cholesterol levels, you should consume heart-healthy foods and exercise regularly for about 30 minutes at least 3 times per week. And if you have been prescribed medication, make sure to take the prescribed dose so that cholesterol can fall more efficiently.

8. High cholesterol is always bad

False. There are two types: Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is called “bad” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol to the body. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is called “good” cholesterol because, on the contrary, it is removed (removed) from the bloodstream.

9. I have to avoid fats

False. In reality, what you should do is replace the consumption of animal fats (which contribute to increase bad cholesterol) by vegetable fats. The AHA recommends the consumption of olive oil, but you can also add canola, corn, safflower, soy, grape seed, walnut, evening primrose and peanut without cholesterol.

10. If using light margarine, cholesterol will not rise

False. Both margarine (although soft) and butter are high in saturated fats, so both should be used sparingly. From a dietary point of view, the main factor that affects blood cholesterol is the amount of saturated fat trans fats found in the food you eat.