How dangerous is cholesterol?
In the supermarkets, numerous foods are explicitly advertised as "cholesterol-free". There is often great concern about the supposedly dangerous ingredient. But is cholesterol really that harmful?
Cholesterol warnings deleted
For decades, doctors and nutritionists have warned against eating too much cholesterol-containing foods. In the meantime, however, more and more studies indicate that cholesterol in foods is only a moderate or no health risk. In the past year, experts in the United States even announced that the cholesterol warning for foods like eggs and butter should be removed.
Vital substances are produced by the body
But scientists also point out that cholesterol can very well be harmful. Most of the vital substance is produced by the body itself. The problem is LDL cholesterol ("low density lipoprotein"), also called "bad cholesterol". Around one in three cholesterol levels are too high.
Certain foods contain a lot of cholesterol
Too much cholesterol can become a problem, says Prof. Elisabeth Steinhagen-Thiessen, head of the Nutritional Sciences department at the Medical Clinic for Endocrinology and Metabolic Medicine at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. In a message from the dpa news agency, she said that it would be problematic "if someone consumes between 600 and 800 milligrams a day".
According to the expert, the recommendation is: "No more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day." Food such as eggs, butter, meat or sausages contain a lot of cholesterol, for example an egg, depending on its size, about 250 milligrams.
However, according to current studies, US nutrition experts have found no connection between the consumption of cholesterol-rich foods and an increase in the level of cholesterol in the body. So the discussions about good and bad cholesterol will continue.
High cholesterol threatens dangerous diseases
A common consequence of an elevated cholesterol level is hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). With this disease, deposits appear on the inside of the vessels, so that the artery diameter gradually decreases until the affected area is finally completely blocked. Diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, circulatory disorders and renal insufficiency can occur.
Changing your diet can help
With high cholesterol levels, it is usually recommended to change your diet first. If that is not enough, cholesterol-lowering drugs are often prescribed. An early diagnosis is important, Steinhagen-Thiessen emphasized. (ad)