Cholesterol-filled foods aren’t unhealthy?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

potatoes
Potatoes are quite healthy when not smothered in butter or fried in oil.

If you’ve heard that cholesterol-filled foods like butter and egg yolks clog your arteries, think again, because the official 2015 guidelines for healthy eating are downplaying the effects of cholesterol in food.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that’s found in all of your cells and your body uses it for things like making vitamin D and digesting food. There are two kinds of cholesterol, called high-density lipoproteins, otherwise known as HDL cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteins, also called LDL cholesterol. See, HDL cholesterol is actually good, carrying build-up away from the heart and back to the liver for reuse, while LDL is the more troubling kind.

For decades, nutrition experts warned that cholesterol-filled diets could cause heart attacks, by clogging major blood vessels called arteries.

However, new research shows that cholesterol levels are more complicated than previously thought, and have more to do with the kinds of fats you eat. See, fat takes many forms, and saturated fats affect blood cholesterol levels more than the amount of cholesterol in food, which is good news for egg yolks, since they have relatively low amounts of saturated fats! Experts are even trying to clear the names of other notoriously “unhealthy” foods besides eggs, like red meat and potatoes. Before we move past eggs, what’s so great about them in the first place? Well, eggs are also loaded with antioxidants – chemicals that fight dangerous chemicals floating around in our bodies – and can help us feel full. Basically, a person should be able to eat 2 eggs a day without a problem.

Red meat is also infamous for being unhealthy, and for good reason. An average piece of prime rib can contain more than half the calories we’re supposed to eat in a day. However, in small amounts and lean cuts, red meat can serve as a source of zinc, protein, iron, and other nutrients our bodies need to function well.

Finally, potatoes definitely do not deserve the heat they’re getting. Sure, these veggies are unhealthy when prepared as french fries or slathered in butter and sour cream, but they can be quite healthy when cooked the right way. According to nutritionists, potatoes are a great source of vitamin C and muscle-healthy potassium. Just be sure not to eat the potatoes alone or they can cause levels of sugar in your blood to spike!

All in all, these foods can be bad for you if they are prepped with tons of salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. However, these items can have nutritional benefits if eaten in moderate amounts and paired with other healthy foods!

Featured image courtesy of Greg & Stacie Humpherys on Flickr. Image courtesy of Taz on Flickr.