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Cholesterol in food: What you need to know


Cholesterol in food: What you need to know

For decades, cholesterol limits were an important part of dietary guidelines.
But now, those guidelines no longer include specific limits on dietary cholesterol. So, what has changed?
It’s a matter of improved understanding of cardiovascular health risks, says Mae Janiga, physician assistant at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
“More studies are being done, so we have a better understanding of cardiovascular health risk,” Janiga says. “It’s not just your cholesterol levels. It’s also, what is your gender? What is your age? Do you smoke? Do you have diabetes? There is a lot more that goes into your risk assessment.”

Understanding cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol refers to the cholesterol found in foods of animal origin, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Although your body needs cholesterol to function, the liver generally produces enough of the waxy substance to support the body’s needs without consuming it through food.

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Research has found that dietary cholesterol has little impact on the cholesterol in our blood, which is a key factor in cardiovascular health. High levels of blood cholesterol, particularly LDL cholesterol, can increase the risk of heart disease.
People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, may need to limit their consumption of dietary cholesterol. Otherwise, experts suggest consuming a well-balanced, nutritious diet that limits intake of saturated and trans fats, as well as high-sugar foods, all of which are all linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Individualized care

Because each person’s risk for heart disease and other health conditions is unique, it’s important to establish and maintain a strong relationship with your health care provider, Janiga says.

For example, she says, some patients are naturally predisposed because of their genetics to high cholesterol, so they may struggle more than others to control their cholesterol levels through diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices.
“Whatever your situation, our goal is to work with you to better understand your overall health, identify risks and interventions that will help you live a long, healthy, fulfilling and productive life,” Janiga says.

Meet the Expert

Mae Janiga

Book Appointment

Mae Janiga is a physician assistant who offers care at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at The Market Common. She is accepting new patients.

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