As crazy as this may sound even though the word cholesterol is considered an evil element in your diet, cholesterol is in fact essential for life. Your body needs it to make sex hormones, bile, vitamin D, cell membranes, and nerve sheaths.
These and other functions fall to serum cholesterol, which is a waxy, fat-like compound, that circulates in the bloodstream (also called lipid). Your liver makes about a gram each day, which is all your body needs.
Dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products. Your body doesn’t need this cholesterol, and with the exception of strict vegetarians you’ll eat varying amounts of it.
Many factors like exercise, genetics, gender, and other components of your diet contribute to how your body processes dietary cholesterol.
Some people can eat large amounts and have normal blood levels, while others eat very little and have high blood cholesterol.
What you eat seems to account for about 20% of the cholesterol in your body, with the remaining 80% produced by your liver.
Good Vs. Bad Cholesterol
The two major transporters of cholesterol are low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high-density lipoproteins (HDLs).
LDLs tend to drop cholesterol in your artery walls, which leads to atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries) and an increased risk of heart disease.
HDLs, collect cholesterol from the artery walls and other tissues and take it to your liver to be metabolized and eliminated from the body.
This is why LDLs are called the “bad” cholesterol and HDLs the “good.”
Eating To Keep Your Cholesterol In Check!
There’s no surprise that what you eat influences the levels of cholesterol and other fats in your blood.
Dozens of studies state that a diet high in animal products and other saturated fats tend to elevate cholesterol levels, when compared to the low levels found in people whose diet are largely made up of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Foods That May Raise Your Cholesterol
- Hard margarine and vegetable shortening, which are high in saturated fats and trans-fatty acids.
- Cookies, cakes, pastries, and chocolates, especially those made with saturated tropical oils, or partially hydrogenated oils.
- Full-fat dairy products, such as cheese, cream, and butter; all are high in saturated fats.
- Fatty meats and meat products, such as marbled beef, pork and lamb chops, hamburgers, bacon, frankfurters, salamis, and other cold cuts.