Blood vs Dietary Cholesterol

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Confused about cholesterol? You're not alone! Actually, the term itself refers to two different types. Blood, or serum, cholesterol circulates in the bloodstream. Dietary cholesterol comes from food.

While many factors affect blood cholesterol levels, the cholesterol that circulates in your body comes from two sources:

  • Your body produces cholesterol—enough for your needs. Your liver makes most of it, but every body cell can make cholesterol, too. In fact, when the body makes too much, the risk for heart disease goes up. Unlike adults, infants and young children's bodies don't produce enough cholesterol, so for children under age two, it's important that their food choices supply cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol also comes from foods and beverages of animal origin: eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy foods. Animals produce cholesterol, but plants don't. A diet high in cholesterol is one factor that elevates blood cholesterol levels for some people. That's why the Dietary Guidelines advise: Consume less than 300

experimental animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems canola oil safe in food.

experimental animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration deems canola oil safe in food.

  • if cholesterol supplies calories? Often confused with fat, cholesterol isn't a source of energy, or calories. Unlike fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, cholesterol isn't broken down, so the body cannot derive any energy from it.
  • what tropical oils are? And how they stack up for nutrition? Tropical oils (coconut, palm, palm kernel) come from the fruit or nuts of the tropical plants they're named for. In processed foods they impart qualities similar to partially hydrogenated oils. There's debate, however, about their impact on blood cholesterol levels. While tropical oils contain saturated fats, palm oil too has quite a bit of polyunsaturated fat; coconut oil contains a fatty acid, called lauric acid, with possible health benefits. Until more is known, limit foods made with tropical oils.

milligrams of cholesterol a day. Dietary cholesterol doesn't automatically become blood cholesterol. Saturated fat and trans fats in your food choices have a more significant effect on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol alone does.

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