Fat and Cholesterol: Facts to Know
Cholesterol is an essential body lipid compound made by the liver. It can also be supplied from the diet by eating meat and dairy products. Dietary cholesterol is only found in animal products and by-products. Excess cholesterol consumption may raise blood cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease. Cholesterol is transported through the bloodstream via lipo-proteins. The fact that Eskimos eat a diet high in cholesterol from fish lipids and yet have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease suggests that perhaps we should concentrate more on the lipids we are lacking in our diet rather than on cholesterol consumption alone.
HDLs (high-density lipoproteins) are also called good cholesterols because they transport cholesterol away from artery walls and back to the liver for storage.
LDLs (low-density lipoproteins), called bad cholesterols, promote the circulation of cholesterol in the bloodstream, predisposing the arteries to plaque buildup and eventual blockage.
Triglycerides are fats that contain three groups of fatty acids: saturated, polyunsaturated, and mono-unsaturated.
Saturated fats are the only lipids capable of raising blood cholesterol levels. Butter, margarine, whole milk, and fats found in meat are high in saturated fat. Eating too much sugar which can create excess insulin response can also raise blood cholesterol.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol levels. Two recommended monounsaturated oils are canola and olive oil. Safflower and corn oil are highest in polyunsaturated fats. Current research suggests that cooking with monounsaturates is preferred.