Cholesterol and General Health

Contrary to popular belief, the liver creates most cholesterol and only a small percent is obtained through food. However, the more saturated fats a person eats, the more cholesterol his or her body makes.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that forms a part of each cell in your body. A person's body needs cholesterol for daily functions, such as making hormones, producing healthy cell walls and making vitamin D. It also produces bile acids that help in the digestion of fat.

Although this waxy substance helps your body in many ways, excessive production of cholesterol can also be harmful to your body. When this happens, the extra cholesterol spills out and circulates into your bloodstream. Be aware that high levels of cholesterol in a person's blood can causes clogging of blood vessels, while increasing the risks of stroke and heart disease.

Cholesterol comes from animal-based food like dairy products, eggs and meat. The two types of cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is the bad cholesterol that usually cause the clogging of blood vessels, while HDL is the good cholesterol that is responsible for clearing LDL out of your bloodstream, reducing the risks of heart disease.

Understanding Food Types and Blood Cholesterol

Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are three types of fats found in food. Each type of dietary fat affects a person's blood cholesterol in different ways. For instance, saturated fats are those found in lamb, pork, beef and other red meat products. Excessive saturated fats in the body can be dangerous to your health.

Monounsaturated fats are those found in pant oils, such as canola, peanut and olive. Polyunsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fat, can help in slowing down blood clots and fight heart disease. They are found in fishes and plant oils, such as soybean, corn, safflower and sunflower.

Since all kinds of fats are sources of calories, they can all contribute to weight gain. However, consuming too much saturated fat is harmful to your body because it is the main cause of high cholesterol levels in the blood. Be aware that the more saturated fats you eat, the more cholesterol your body produces, which eventually end up in your bloodstream.

In lowering blood cholesterol, substituting saturated fats with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help by getting rid of newly formed cholesterol in the body. For this reason, people with high levels of blood cholesterol need to change their eating habits to ensure that the right kind of fat enters their bodies.