- Dietary cholesterol:
- Cholesterol from food we eat.
- Only found in animal products.
- Serum cholesterol:
- Fatty substances in blood, including HDL & LDL.
- This would be a lot less confusing if we called this serum lipoproteins. HDL and LDL both contain cholesterol but are both made up of other fatty substances as well.
- The types of fat we eat have a greater affect on HDL and LDL than dietary cholesterol. If your LDL is high, you will likely lower LDL by limiting saturated fat consumption than by limiting dietary cholesterol. This is super confusing, but important to understand. It is also true that most foods high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat.
- The body makes cholesterol, so even if you are a vegan, you will have cholesterol in the body.
- Cholesterol plays many essential roles including being the building blocks for some hormones including estrogen and testosterone.
- Some people are genetically programmed to make abnormally high levels of cholesterol.
- Saturated fat:
- Consumption increases LDL which = higher risk of cardiovascular disease, obviously a bad thing.
- Found mostly in meat & dairy.
- To reduce consumption of saturated fat, reduce amount of meat consumed and choose lean meat & low fat dairy products.
- Monounsaturated fat:
- Increases HDL, this is a good thing.
- Found in olive an canola oil
- Polyunsaturated fat:
- Found in most fats that are liquid at room temp.
- Omega 3 & omega 6 are both types of polyunsaturated fat and are essential fats.
- Most American's get enough omega 6 fats, but not enough omega 3, which is why there is much recent attention to eat foods rich in omega 3's such as fatty fish such as salmon, walnuts and flax seed.
- The coolest thing ever is that these fats through very complex processes actually signal the to make less fat from sugar (triglycerides) and to burn fat. This doesn't mean you should eat a lot of fat, it just emphasizes that picking the right fat is important.
Remember fat is very calorie dense, so it is important to keep it in moderation, but healthy fats are actually a very important part of a balanced meal plan and help keep us full.
In case you still want more info on fat & cholesterol.....here are some good resources:
We could talk about fats for a long time, but tomorrow we will move onto another topic!!