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Is it Really True That… Dispelling Some Cardio Myths

separator Over the years, researchers have learned that some of the standard beliefs about heart disease and heart health no longer hold true. Such as:

Margarine is better than butter.
Butter has a lot of saturated fat, which can lead to higher levels of LDL, or "bad cholesterol." So you don't want to eat too much butter.

But you don't want to eat much margarine either. It contains trans fatty acids, which can also be bad for your arteries and your cholesterol level.

Better choices include monounsaturated fats like olive oil or canola oil.

Eggs are so high in cholesterol that nobody should eat them. The yolk in eggs does have a lot of cholesterol (about 220 milligrams per egg), but this doesn't always raise the cholesterol levels in the blood. Eggs are a good source of protein, and most experts say that eating one egg per day is not bad for your health. But be sure to talk to your doctor about this. There may be reasons why you might need to keep your egg consumption low.

Chocolate is bad.
It depends on how much of it you eat. Chocolate has flavonoids, which seem to help lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL) and raise "good" cholesterol (HDL). So chocolate that's consumed in small servings may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It's important not to use chocolate as your main source of flavonoids. The fat and sugar content is too high. Fruits and vegetables can provide the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need without a lot of fat.

People shouldn't eat any foods containing cholesterol.
In fact, it's not the actual cholesterol content of a food that's responsible for raising the blood cholesterol levels of most people. Instead, saturated fats and trans fats are often more responsible for causing the body to respond to cholesterol in an unhealthy way. And eating fruits, vegetable, legumes and other high fiber foods can hinder cholesterol absorption.

People with heart problems shouldn't ever drink alcohol.
In fact, moderate amounts of alcohol may provide some benefit to your heart. Studies have shown that there are antioxidants and other substances that can offer some heart protection. But the stress is on moderate. One or two drinks per day should be the absolute limit.

People with heart disease should take up drinking alcohol to protect their hearts.
While there are some protective elements to moderate alcohol consumption, most experts agree that taking up drinking doesn't make a lot of sense. Too much alcohol can damage the heart muscle and cause irregular heartbeats. Alcohol has far too many disadvantages than advantages. An extremely healthy diet, regular exercise and stress management should provide enough protective benefits without the alcohol.

Women don't need to worry about heart disease as much as men.
Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the leading cause of death for women in America, and women have a higher death rate after heart attack than men. According to the American Heart Association, 44 percent of women die in the first year after a heart attack, compared with 27 percent of men.

The American Heart Association; American Journal of Nutrition, December 2001. M. Mogadam. Every Heart Attack is Preventable. Lifeline Press, Washington, D.C 20001, 2001. Source: A. Weil. Eating Well for Optimum Health. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, New York, 10022, 2000.
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