Researchers have determined that the so-called "good cholesterol" may not be good for us after all.
It's the medical breakthrough none of us wanted to hear: there may well be no such thing as "good cholesterol". Research published in the authoritative British medical journal The Lancet on Wednesday suggests there is no evidence to back the belief that higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream reduce a patient's risk of heart disease.
In recent times, HDL has been seen as the kinder cousin of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), the so-called "bad cholesterol" linked to heart disease. The accepted theory has been that the more good cholesterol in your blood, the lower your chances of a heart attack.
Until now, people with naturally low HDL have been encouraged to eat certain foods, or take drugs or supplements, to raise their HDL levels. However, this new study of thousands of medical records has produced data that, in the words of the authors, "challenge the concept that raising of plasma HDL cholesterol will uniformly translate into reductions in risk of myocardial infarction".
HDL's role is being reassessed, but a separate study has confirmed that drugs used to reduce LDL levels do work to reduce your risk of heart attack.
For those of us struggling to know what to eat to stay healthy, the best advice could be: if you think it's bad for you, it probably is.