People should not focus too much on the cholesterol content of food, as trans fats and saturated fats contribute more to serum cholesterol levels, a Taipei doctor said on Saturday.
Shu Tien Urology and Ophthalmology Clinic physician Hung Chien-te (洪建德) said that more than half of the patients he sees have high serum cholesterol levels and are prescribed medicine.
The clinic recently saw a female patient with 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) of serum cholesterol, Hung said.
The woman told him that she does not eat eggs or seafood, but often eats out, with a diet primarily consisting of bread, pastries and traditional Chinese breakfasts, such as fried rolls, Hung said.
Trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol are the three factors affecting serum cholesterol levels, he said.
Most people know to limit their intake of seafood, eggs and pork, but they do not avoid eating fried drumsticks, fried beef and bread, all of which are sources of trans fats, he said.
Cholesterol contributes the least to serum cholesterol levels, while trans fats and saturated fats contribute the most, he said.
Eating less fried foods and margarine in products would cut down on the intake of trans-fats, while oils such as extra virgin olive oil and pumpkin seed oil can help the body digest monounsaturated fats, Hung said.
In theory, medication can lower the body’s low-density lipoprotein by 20 to 50 percent, Hung said.
However, if people do not take the medication as prescribed or stop when they see some progress, it could lead to a heart attack, Hung added.
Some people worry about side-effects when taking medication to lower their cholesterol, but the chances of rhabdomyolysis occurring are about one in 1 million and the probability of developing liver function abnormalities is even lower, Hung said.
Taking medication as prescribed decreases the chances of cardiovascular disease, Hung added.
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