Many may have heard about avoiding cholesterol by those around them. But what is cholesterol and why do people avoid it?
Cholesterol is a lipid, a macromolecule needed for life, that is used to create the cells that make up one’s body. In the human body cholesterol is produced in the liver. Only a small portion of cholesterol in the body actually comes from food consumed because the liver produces most of the cholesterol needed. It is mainly found in foods like eggs, meats, and butter. Oils like palm oil and coconut oil also contain cholesterol. These oils are often found in desserts, which is why those avoiding cholesterol often avoid consuming baked goods.
Too much cholesterol is associated with heart diseases because the cholesterol build up can block the arteries. If the arteries are blocked, serious problems like a heart attack or a stroke can occur. The risk for these types of serious conditions can be determined by the concentration of the different types of cholesterol in one’s blood sample. Types of cholesterol include low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein. Low-density lipoproteins contribute to artery blockages and consequently heart diseases. Conversely, high-density lipoproteins prevent heart attacks by transporting low-density lipoproteins to the liver to break them down.
Considering the possible consequences of too much cholesterol in the bloodstream, the Heart UK, a cholesterol charity, recommends limiting cholesterol intake to a daily amount of 300 mg. Many people do not consume enough foods with a high enough cholesterol concentration for the foods to actually have a negative effect on their health, but it is important to not over consume foods like those mentioned above to prevent fatal consequences. Fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas, and lentils do not have any cholesterol at all. Consider incorporating more of these foods in your diet and limiting the consumption of cholesterol rich meats. However, do not avoid other foods that have cholesterol.
HDL (Good), LDL (Bad) Cholesterol and Triglycerides. American Heart Association. 2020 Nov 6.
High cholesterol food. Heart UK.
What is Cholesterol? American Heart Association. 2020 Nov 6.