Cholesterol. It’s Good For You

Whilst going on my weekly grocery shop, and perusing through the aisles, it occurred to me how many products are out there which are marketed as “cholesterol free”, leading people to believe that if they are concerned about their cholesterol levels, they should focus on eating products which are low in dietary cholesterol.

It sounds simple. Eating less cholesterol = less cholesterol in the body = lower blood cholesterol levels.

Not exactly true. Although it is still important to limit the amount of cholesterol you eat, especially if you have diabetes, dietary cholesterol isn’t nearly the bad guy it’s been made out to be. Cholesterol in the bloodstream is what’s most important.

Studies have found that diets high in saturated fat have a greater impact on a person’s blood cholesterol levels and associated health risks, than the intake of dietary cholesterol alone. Therefore foods that contain cholesterol do no need to be avoided, especially those that are low in saturated fat, such as seafood.

Cholesterol is a very important substance in your body. It is required for the production of some very important hormones, such as the sex hormones – oestrogen and testosterone, and occurs in very high concentrations in the brain and nervous system. Cholesterol also helps to assist with the absorption of fat from food. Unfortunately though, a diet which elevates cholesterol does not mean we can speed up fat metabolism.

Our body’s cholesterol needs are met by the cholesterol it itself manufactures. Diets high in saturated fat – fatty meat, butter, cream, fast food, chocolate etc, will elevate your cholesterol levels, which is then stored like garbage on the walls of your arteries – giving you high blood cholesterol levels and increasing your risk of heart disease.

Keep an eye out for my next post, where I will discuss where dietary cholesterol comes from and the different types of cholesterol found in the body (the good and the bad). I will also give you some helpful tips on how to help lower high blood cholesterol levels.

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