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Cholesterol or cholesterror?

    Most Malaysians have a basic understanding of cholesterol – the good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL). With 47.7% of Malaysians reporting having high cholesterol levels, we deem it is about time to re-visit this topic, which we have sidelined, understandably, because of the looming pandemic.

    We all know that Malaysian food is calorific! And they make us think fatty foods provide us with the cholesterol that sticks like plaster to our arteries, triggering silent but fatal heart attacks. That is no fun to you or your family.

    Notable healthcare experts from the Cleveland Clinic are saying otherwise.

    “You should no longer worry about cholesterol in food.”

    “Evidence shows that people no longer have to be concerned when they eat foods high in cholesterol.”

    So, it’s choles-terror to cholesterol now? Not exactly.

    “People with certain health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich foods.”

    Is cholesterol good or bad?

    That’s a complicated question to answer. On one side, bad cholesterol such as LDLs sticks to your arteries, causing plaque that triggers heart attacks and strokes. HDLs do the complete opposite and discourage plaque buildup.

    “It is your genetic makeup – not diet – that is behind cholesterol levels.”

    “Your body produces larger amounts of cholesterol, more than what you can eat, thus avoiding foods high in cholesterol won’t affect blood cholesterol as much.”

    Here’s what you SHOULD be worried about:

    Trans Fat.

    So what are trans fat foods?

    • Any baked goods (cakes, cookies, pies)
    • Shortening
    • Microwave popcorn
    • Fried foods, including french fries, doughnuts and fried chicken.
    • Nondairy coffee creamer
    • Stick margarine

    And the list goes on..,

    “These types of fats raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.”

    How do you spot trans fat present in your food?

    Read the label! Even IF a food item claims to be “trans-fat free”; Do NOT be fooled. It may contain up to half a gram of trans fats per serving!

    This is how trans fats can be disguised on labels as the following :

    • Partially hydrogenated oils

    • Hydrogenated oils

    • Shortening

    • DATEM

    • Mono and di-glycerides 


    Notice how it says 0g of trans fat, but when you inspect the ingredients list, it shows that trans fat is still present in the food.

    This is because if the individual ingredient is below half a gram (0.5g), it is legal for them to claim that it is 0g on their nutrition facts!

    We’re not saying you should avoid trans fat 100% because it will be pretty difficult to do so, but we recommend following the recommended saturated fat intake by your doctor because prevention is better than cure.

    If you feel you’re at risk of having high cholesterol because of age or genetics, we recommend getting insured early to protect yourself from the financial devastation that comes with it. You can check your coverage here: