Cholesterol confusion cleared: PocDoc debunking cholesterol myths


Cholesterol confusion cleared: PocDoc debunking cholesterol myths

Authored by: Dr Matthew Lee; BMSc, MBBS, MSc

Last reviewed: March 2024 

What's in this PocDoc Article:

Cardiovascular disease in  the UK during 2023

In 2023, cardiovascular disease was one of the leading causes of death in the UK, causing over 170,000 deaths. Over 7.6 million people are living with cardiovascular disease across the UK, with many of them being undiagnosed. The British Heart Foundation predicts that over half of the UK population will develop cardiovascular disease in their lifetime.


Image from the British Heart Foundation's CVD statistics UK factsheet- January 2024 

PocDoc champions accurate cholesterol knowledge

Cholesterol levels outside the recommended range are a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Individuals need evidence-based information to address cholesterol levels and decrease cardiovascular risk. However, medical misinformation on social media can spread easily, making it hard for individuals to know what information to trust.

PocDoc is committed to helping you separate fact from fiction by clarifying popular cholesterol-related misconceptions. By debunking the most common cholesterol myths, PocDoc aims to enhance health awareness. At PocDoc, we encourage proactive health assessments to narrow the cardiovascular disease screening gap.

Download PocDoc's Debunking cholesterol myths booklet here

Cholesterol myth busting with PocDoc: Myths vs. Facts

Myth 1: Eggs are bad for you because they’re high in cholesterol


A moderate intake of eggs is harmless for most people. The British Heart Foundation states that eggs are low in saturated fat, which reduces the risk of high cholesterol levels. 

Instead of focusing on cutting out eggs, limit the sources of excess saturated and trans-fats in your diet, which are proven to increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. This includes limiting red meat and high-fat dairy products such as butter and cheese. The British Heart Foundation has no recommended limit on the number of eggs to eat if your diet is varied.

Myth 1

Myth 2: I shouldn’t eat things high in cholesterol because it will raise my risk of cardiovascular disease


Cholesterol eaten as part of your diet is not the same as cholesterol contained in your blood. Although dietary cholesterol was once singled out as a contributor to heart disease, recent evidence has not supported an association between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular risk for most people.

Dietary cholesterol comes from animal products, including high-fat meat, eggs, butter and full-fat dairy products. It is especially abundant in processed foods such as sausages, burgers and hot dogs.

There is no recommended intake of dietary cholesterol, but current guidelines suggest keeping cholesterol consumption “as low as possible without compromising the nutritional adequacy of the diet.”

What this means in reality is that we should be focusing on eating an all-around healthy diet, with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy sources of protein and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. 

Some foods, such as eggs and shellfish, such as shrimp, and lobster, are high in dietary cholesterol but low in saturated fat and can very much be part of a balanced healthy diet.

Myth 2

Myth 3: I’m not overweight, so my cholesterol will be fine


Weight is a considerable risk factor for high cholesterol levels, but it's not the only cause. People with BMIs in the healthy range can still have high cholesterol. Regardless of your body weight, to keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the recommended ranges:

  1. Embrace a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Eat a better diet with foods that are high in unsaturated fat rather than foods with high saturated fats.
  3. Stay active, don't smoke, and don't drink too much alcohol.

Heart UK emphasizes that high cholesterol can often develop without visible warning signs, even in individuals with a healthy weight. The PocDoc Lipid Test allows you to monitor your cholesterol levels and keep track of your cardiovascular health even without visible symptoms.

Myth 3

Myth 4: High cholesterol is mainly a male problem


Women, especially those who have early menopause ( before 45 years old ), are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the British Heart Foundation. Therefore, women should opt for regular health screenings to monitor their cholesterol levels just as much as men.

Women can also discuss Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) with their healthcare provider to treat menopause symptoms and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Myth 4

Myth 5: I am young, so I won’t have high cholesterol


High cholesterol can affect anyone at any age. Young adults should be aware of their cholesterol levels and take preventative measures to mitigate their risk of cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association recommends that adults start having regular check-ups of their lipid levels from age 20. The PocDoc Lipid Test is a quick and effective tool for anyone at any age to check their cholesterol levels at their convenience.

Myth 5

Myth 6: I eat pretty healthily, so I won’t have high cholesterol


Dietary cholesterol is not the same as blood cholesterol and a diet low in dietary cholesterol but high in saturated fats and trans fats, can still lead to high blood cholesterol levels. However, consuming foods low in saturated fats can further reduce the risk of high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.

The NHS suggests that a healthy diet for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease includes:

  • Less than 5g of Trans fats a day for adults 
  • Less than 30g of saturated fat a day for men
  • Less than 20g of saturated fat a day for women
Myth 6

Myth 7: I won’t get high cholesterol since I switched to low-cholesterol foods


A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats is beneficial but doesn't eliminate the risk of high cholesterol.

Ensure you commit to other lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly and lowering your smoking and alcohol consumption. Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by using preventative measures such as having regular heart health checks.

Myth 7

Myth 8: All types of cholesterol are harmful


Everybody requires some level of each type of cholesterol to stay healthy. To keep your cholesterol levels in check, regularly measure and be knowledgeable about your entire lipid panel. Using a point-of-care test like the PocDoc Lipid Test, you know your exact cholesterol levels and whether they are within the recommended range.

For more information on the different types of cholesterol and how to keep the levels in check, please see the full PocDoc lipid blog here:

PocDoc's Guide to Lipids

Myth 8

Myth 9: Low cholesterol levels = low heart attack risks


High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but other factors also contribute. Regular heart health screenings involve the QRISK tool, which considers multiple risk factors. PocDoc uses the QRISK tool to show a person's 10-year risk of a cardiovascular event (heart attack) and their healthy heart age.

For more information on cardiovascular disease risk assessment using QRISK levels in check, please see the full PocDoc QRISK blog here:

PocDoc CVD risk using QRISK

Myth 9

Download PocDoc's Debunking cholesterol myths booklet here 

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