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ABOUT CHOLESTEROL

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance called a sterol. It is hard and waxy and melts at 149 degrees Celsius. The name cholesterol originates from the Greek words chole (bile) and stereos (solid), as it was first discovered in solid form in gallstones. Our body manufactures approximately one gram of cholesterol per day; this is predominantly in the liver, but also occurs in the intestines, adrenal glands, ovaries and testes. In fact every cell of our body has the capacity to manufacture cholesterol if needed. We also obtain cholesterol in our diet by eating animal foods such as eggs, meat and dairy products.

Our body makes cholesterol out of a molecule called acetyl Co A; this is derived from the breakdown of sugars, fats and protein. Basically any calories in excess of our body’s needs can be turned into cholesterol.

Cholesterol in Foods

Approximately 80 percent of the cholesterol in our body is manufactured in our liver. The remaining cholesterol is obtained through our diet. Only foods that come from animals contain cholesterol; plant foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, avocados and vegetable oil do not contain cholesterol. Plants do not have a liver, therefore it is impossible for them to contain cholesterol. The body makes much of its cholesterol out of saturated fatty acids in foods we eat. Saturated fat is found in foods like eggs, red meat and coconut, but it is also created in our body from the breakdown of sugar. Therefore, if we eat too much sugar, starch and carbohydrate rich foods, we will have a lot of saturated fat in our body, which can then be used to make cholesterol. Eating trans fatty acids raises our levels of bad cholesterol and lowers levels of good cholesterol. Trans fatty acids are present in most vegetable oil, unless it is cold pressed or extra virgin, as well as most margarines.

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