How Much Cholesterol Do We Need To Eat
None. Cholesterol is so important that the body can make cholesterol out of anythingfats, carbohydrates, or proteins. You dont have to eat cholesterol to make cholesterol. Even if you eat a completely cholesterol-free diet, as vegans do, your body will still make cholesterol. Type vegans with high cholesterol into your search engine and you will find plenty of accounts of vegans whose cholesterol is too highdespite the fact that they eat ZERO grams of cholesterol.
Phospholipids And Biological Membranes
The cell membrane consists of two adjacent layers of phospholipids, which form a bilayer. The fatty acid tails of phospholipids face inside, away from water, whereas the phosphate heads face the outward aqueous side. Since the heads face outward, one layer is exposed to the interior of the cell and one layer is exposed to the exterior. As the phosphate groups are polar and hydrophilic, they are attracted to water in the intracellular fluid.
Phospholipid Bilayer: The phospholipid bilayer consists of two adjacent sheets of phospholipids, arranged tail to tail. The hydrophobic tails associate with one another, forming the interior of the membrane. The polar heads contact the fluid inside and outside of the cell.
Because of the phospholipdsâ chemical and physical characteristics, the lipid bilayer acts as a semipermeable membrane; only lipophilic solutes can easily pass the phospholipd bilayer. As a result, there are two distinct aqueous compartments on each side of the membrane. This separation is essential for many biological functions, including cell communication and metabolism.
Plasma Transport And Regulation Of Absorption
As an isolated molecule, cholesterol is only minimally soluble in water, or hydrophilic. Because of this, it dissolves in blood at exceedingly small concentrations. To be transported effectively, cholesterol is instead packaged within lipoproteins, complex discoidal particles with exterior amphiphilic proteins and lipids, whose outward-facing surfaces are water-soluble and inward-facing surfaces are lipid-soluble. This allows it to travel through the blood via emulsification. Unbound cholesterol, being amphipathic, is transported in the monolayer surface of the lipoprotein particle along with phospholipids and proteins. Cholesterol esters bound to fatty acid, on the other hand, are transported within the fatty hydrophilic core of the lipoprotein, along with triglyceride.
There are several types of lipoproteins in the blood. In order of increasing density, they are chylomicrons, very-low-density lipoprotein , intermediate-density lipoprotein , low-density lipoprotein , and high-density lipoprotein . Lower protein/lipid ratios make for less dense lipoproteins. Cholesterol within different lipoproteins is identical, although some is carried as its native “free” alcohol form , while others as fatty acyl esters, known also as cholesterol esters, within the particles.
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Could Chocolate Help Our Health More Than By Helping Our Cholesterol Levels
Intrigued by its effect on blood cholesterol, researchers attempted to determine if there were any other health benefits of chocolate.
The cocoa bean, from which real chocolate is derived, is a natural product and therefore contains many chemicals that can interact with the human body. For example, chocolate contains caffeine and we all know what caffeine does to the body. It turns out that chocolate also has little miracle compounds called antioxidants.
The blood is a war zone of sorts. Much of what we eat ends up in the bloodstream and certain things can injure the blood vessels. One way that the blood vessels are injured is through the action of oxidants sometimes called reactive oxygen species. In fact, atherosclerosis involves various pathways of oxidative damage.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, are the heroes of the blood vessel war. They neutralize chemicals that would otherwise harm the blood vessels.
The main antioxidants in chocolate are polyphenols which are similar to the antioxidants found in green or black tea.
These plant polyphenols can neutralize reactive oxygen species such as superoxide. About three ounces of pure dark chocolate contains the same amount of polyphenols as one cup of black or green tea.
Moreover, the beneficial effect of cocoa on LDL oxidation is roughly equal to that of red wine and tea.
Therefore, chocolate has other beneficial effects on blood vessel health than simply its ability to improve levels of plasma cholesterol.
Fat Saturated Fat And Cholesterol On The Food Label
The Nutrition Facts Panel on food labels lists the number of grams of total fat and saturated fat and milligrams of cholesterol in one serving of food. The Nutrition Facts Panel also lists the percent Daily Value one serving provides for fat and cholesterol based on a 2,000-calorie reference diet. You can use the Nutrition Facts Panel to compare the fat and cholesterol content of foods. The following terms are used on food labels to describe the fat and cholesterol content of foods.
- Fat free: less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving.
- Saturated fat free: less than 1/2 gram of saturated fat and 1/2 gram trans fat per serving.
- Low fat: 3 grams or less fat per serving.
- Low saturated-fat: one gram or less saturated fat per serving and less than 1/2 gram trans fat per serving.
- Reduced or less fat: at least 25 percent less fat per serving compared to a similar food.
- Reduced or less saturated fat: at least 25 percent less saturated fat and trans fat per serving compared to a similar food.
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Why Would The Body Make More Cholesterol Than It Needs
Now heres the problem: when people eat too many sugars and starches, especially refined and high glycemic index foods, blood insulin levels can spike. When insulin spikes, it turns on HMGCoA reductase, which tells all of the bodys cells to make more cholesterol, even if they dont need any more. This is probably the most important reason why some people have too much cholesterol in their bloodstream. Sugars and starches can raise insulin levels, which fools the body into thinking it should grow when it doesnt need to. This is how low glycemic index diets and low-carbohydrate diets normalize cholesterol patternsthese diets reduce insulin levels, which in turn lower HMG-CoA reductase activity.
Statin drugs, such as Lipitor®, which are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels, work partly by interfering with the activity of HMG-CoA reductase. If your cells happen to need more cholesterol under certain circumstances, but the statin drug is blocking this critical enzyme, your cells may not be able to make cholesterol when needed. And whats worse is that the cholesterol synthesis pathway doesnt just make cholesterol; branches of this same pathway are responsible for synthesizing a wide variety of other important molecules, including: Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and Coenzyme Q. So, you may want to think twice before you artificially interfere with this pathway by taking a statin drug.
Structure Of A Phospholipid Molecule
A phospholipid is an amphipathic molecule which means it has both a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic component. A single phospholipid molecule has a phosphate group on one end, called the âhead,â and two side-by-side chains of fatty acids that make up the lipid âtails. â The phosphate group is negatively charged, making the head polar and hydrophilic, or âwater loving.â The phosphate heads are thus attracted to the water molecules in their environment.
The lipid tails, on the other hand, are uncharged, nonpolar, and hydrophobic, or âwater fearing.â A hydrophobic molecule repels and is repelled by water. Some lipid tails consist of saturated fatty acids and some contain unsaturated fatty acids. This combination adds to the fluidity of the tails that are constantly in motion.
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Monitoring Intake Of Fat And Cholesterol
Dietary fat and cholesterol are necessary components for a healthy diet. Though, when consumed in excess, they may be harmful to the body and increase ones risk for obesity, atherosclerosis, and heart disease. Keep in mind, however, that dietary cholesterol does not have as much of an effect on blood cholesterol as saturated fat. It is important to regulate ones intake of dietary fat in order to regulate blood LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels.
Low Fat Chocolate Isn’t Likely Good For Your Cholesterol And Heart
The strong association between fat intake and blood cholesterol levels prompted many people to eliminate high fat foods from their diet in favor of low fat or reduced fat snacks.
Therefore food manufacturers clamored to produce low fat snacks of every shape in size. Soon every fatty food that people once loved had a low fat or non-fat alternative.
In order to make these low fat snacks more palatable, food chemists often replaced the fat with large quantities of sugar.
This substitution is not necessarily heart healthy however.
When a milk chocolate bar was compared to a high calorie snack in a clinical trial, the chocolate bar did not adversely affect cholesterol levels in the blood, presumably because of the stearic acid component of the chocolate.
When the researchers measured blood cholesterol levels after each type of snack, there was no detriment caused by the chocolate snack compared to the high carbohydrate one.
In fact, chocolate seemed to help.
Based on these results, the authors suggest that even foods with relatively high fat content can be included in a heart healthy diet, depending on the composition of fatty acids in the foods.
Apparently chocolate has the right combination of fatty acids in it.
In other words, if you need an afternoon pick-me-up, a bit of chocolate does not negatively impact blood cholesterol levels, certainly not when compared to a high carbohydrate alternative.
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Can Too Much Chocolate Be Bad For Us
It is very important to realize that while certain chemicals naturally found in chocolate can lead to health benefits, it remains to be seen how big of an impact a moderate amount of chocolate has on these diseases.
It is also important to keep in mind that while chocolate has plenty of chemicals that are heart healthy, they also pack a high concentration of calories.
While a few ounces of chocolate may have the same amount of antioxidants as a cup of green tea, the tea has no calories at all.
Thus when one overindulges in chocolate, the body will convert the unused sugar and fat in the chocolate in fat on the body. And obesity increases cholesterol levels and obesity is an important, independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Dutch Chocolate And Cholesterol
Unfortunately, consumers do not generally tolerate that much darkness in their chocolate.
This sad fact has prompted many manufacturers to fiddle with the formula. The process of dutching that is, processing the chocolate with an alkaline material, makes it much more palatable, but significantly reduces the level of heart healthy flavinols, and may decrease the cholesterol lowering benefit as well.
Thus a chocolate product can boldly put the percentage of cacao on their packaging, but if they dutch or treat the chocolate with a base, the health benefits drop considerably.
Currently it is quite difficult to determine if a chocolate has been processed in this or other ways from the packaging alone. The percentage of cacao printed on the package is only useful if the cacao is relatively unprocessed.
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Why Is Cholesterol Important
Cholesterol is a very important steroid to the body. Its formed in the liver, brain tissue, bloodstream, and nerve tissue. Its a precursor to certain hormones, such as testosterone. This means the body needs cholesterol to create these hormones.
Cholesterol is also an important component of bile salts. These help break down dietary fats. Cholesterol is in all cell membranes. Cell membranes provide structure in your body and protect the inside of the cell.
Doctors classify cholesterol into low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein . Doctors commonly call HDL cholesterol the good kind of cholesterol, because it circulates in the blood and removes excess, unwanted cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol is the type that can lead to buildup in the bodys arteries. Over time, these deposits can harden. This narrows the flow of blood through the vessels. The result is a condition known as atherosclerosis. It can cause conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
A doctor can perform a blood test known as a lipid panel to determine if your blood cholesterol levels are too high or if you may be at risk for atherosclerosis. A doctor can review the results of your cholesterol test and compare it to people your age.
Cholesterol levels are measured in milligrams per deciliter of blood . Heres a breakdown of healthy cholesterol levels by age and sex:
More Information Onmolar Mass And Molecular Weight
In chemistry, the formula weight is a quantity computed by multiplying the atomic weight of each element in a chemical formula by the number of atoms of that element present in the formula, then adding all of these products together.
Finding molar mass starts with units of grams per mole . When calculating molecular weight of a chemical compound, it tells us how many grams are in one mole of that substance. The formula weight is simply the weight in atomic mass units of all the atoms in a given formula.
If the formula used in calculating molar mass is the molecular formula, the formula weight computed is the molecular weight. The percentage by weight of any atom or group of atoms in a compound can be computed by dividing the total weight of the atom in the formula by the formula weight and multiplying by 100.
Formula weights are especially useful in determining the relative weights of reagents and products in a chemical reaction. These relative weights computed from the chemical equation are sometimes called equation weights.
Using the chemical formula of the compound and the periodic table of elements, we can add up the atomic weights and calculate molecular weight of the substance.
A common request on this site is to convert grams to moles. To complete this calculation, you have to know what substance you are trying to convert. The reason is that the molar mass of the substance affects the conversion. This site explains how to find molar mass.
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What Can Raise My Risk Of High Cholesterol
A variety of things can raise your risk for high cholesterol:
- Age. Your cholesterol levels tend to rise as you get older. Even though it is less common, younger people, including children and teens, can also have high cholesterol.
- Heredity. High blood cholesterol can run in families.
- Weight. Being overweight or having obesity raises your cholesterol level.
- Race. Certain races may have an increased risk of high cholesterol. For example, African Americans typically have higher HDL and LDL cholesterol levels than whites.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
If the lifestyle changes alone do not lower your cholesterol enough, you may also need to take medicines. There are several types of cholesterol-lowering drugs available, including statins. If you take medicines to lower your cholesterol, you still should continue with the lifestyle changes.
Some people with familial hypercholesterolemia may receive a treatment called lipoprotein apheresis. This treatment uses a filtering machine to remove LDL cholesterol from the blood. Then the machine returns the rest of the blood back to the person.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
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Lipids And Fatty Acids
Fats are actually a type of lipid. Lipids are a major class of biochemical compounds that includes oils as well as fats. Organisms use lipids to store energy and for many other uses.
Lipid molecules consist mainly of repeating units called fatty acids. There are two types of fatty acids: saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. Both types consist mainly of simple chains of carbon atoms bonded to one another and to hydrogen atoms. The two types of fatty acids differ in how many hydrogen atoms they contain.
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Recommended Blood Cholesterol And Triglyceride Concentrations
Total blood cholesterol measurements include cholesterol in both the LDL and HDL lipoproteins. However, LDL and HDL lipoproteins have different functions in the body. LDL lipoproteins carry cholesterol from the liver into the body. HDL lipoproteins are released from the liver and circulate in the blood to pick up excess cholesterol from the body and carry it back to the liver to be removed from the body. Higher LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart disease. Higher HDL cholesterol decreases your risk of heart disease. Measuring LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol is a better indicator of heart disease risk than just total cholesterol alone.
Total cholesterol concentrations below 200 mg/dl are desirable. Total cholesterol concentrations between 200 and 239 mg/dl are considered borderline, and concentrations over 240 mg/dl are high. LDL-cholesterol concentrations below 100 mg/dl are desirable. LDL-cholesterol concentrations between 130 and 159 mg/dl are considered borderline, and LDL-cholesterol concentrations over 160 mg/dl are high. Triglyceride concentrations below 150 mg/dl are desirable. Triglyceride concentrations between 150 and 199 mg/dl are considered borderline. Triglyceride concentrations over 200 mg/dl are considered high. HDL-cholesterol concentrations equal to or above 60 mg/dl are desirable, HDL cholesterol levels below 40 mg/dl are considered low. Exercising, losing excess weight, and not smoking promote higher HDL-cholesterol concentrations.
Want To Learn More About Cholesterol
If you’d like to learn more about cholesterol and heart disease, I recommend Eat Rich, Live Long by engineer Ivor Cummins and experienced low-carb family practice physician Dr. Jeff Gerber. This book explains how and why eating a low-carbohydrate diet rich in cholesterol and saturated fat is healthy for the heart and the waistline, and why you don’t need to worry about high LDL cholesterol levels. The book is cleverly divided into two halvesthe first half is written as a user-friendly guide and the second half goes more deeply into the science for those who are curious to learn more.
If you want to truly understand cholesterol, I highly recommend engineer Dave Feldman’s pioneering work, which he shares on his website Cholesterol Code. Dave’s mission is to get to the bottom of the cholesterol story by explaining how cholesterol works in the body, why some people on low-carb diets develop extremely high LDL levels , and whether these people need to worry about those high levels. He has spearheaded numerous public experiments demonstrating how to raise and lower cholesterol levels quickly, challenging conventional beliefs about what high and low cholesterol and triglyceride levels actually mean.
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