Cholesterol Facts
Heart Health
High Cholesterol

10 Fascinating Facts About Cholesterol

CHOLESTEROL MAY PROTECT YOUR SKIN.

Skin treatment research, while still in early stages, indicates that cholesterol added as an ingredient in moisturizers could actually help protect skin from UV damage. According to research published in the Journal of Dermatological Science, other lipid—or fatty—ingredients do not confer the same type of protection, making this a potentially very important discovery.

 


 

CHOLESTEROL IS NOT ALWAYS A BAD THING

When most people hear “cholesterol” they think “bad.” The reality, however, is far more fascinating and complex. Yes — high cholesterol can be dangerous, but cholesterol itself, however, is a vital substance for every living creature, and is essential to almost every bodily process, from insulating nerve cells in the brain to aiding digestion to providing structure for cell membranes.

 


 


WHAT FUELS YOUR SEX DRIVE? CHOLESTEROL…

Yes. It’s true — every sex hormone in our body is made from cholesterol. It is a critical component of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, to name a few. Cholesterol is one of the essential building blocks of the body, in fact, without it we would not be able to have children. Studies have shown that having low levels of cholesterol can actually cause infertility. According to Dr. Jorge Chavarro, of the Harvard School of Public Health: “Women wanting to conceive should examine their diet. They should consider changing low-fat dairy foods for high-fat dairy foods, for instance by swapping skimmed milk for whole milk and eating cream, not low-fat yogurt.”

 


 


YOUR BODY HAS A BUILT-IN CHOLESTEROL FACTORY. IT’S CALLED YOUR LIVER.

To function properly, the human body requires, yes, you guessed it… cholesterol. Your liver can make all the cholesterol you need, even if you don’t consume any dietary cholesterol. Fascinating, right? Problems begin, however, when you consume too much saturated fat, which in turn spurs your body to product too much LDL – aka “bad” cholesterol – which can then turn into plaque that can line, and eventually clog, your arteries.

 


 


PREGNANT WOMEN NATURALLY HAVE HIGH CHOLESTEROL LEVELS.

A woman’s total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol reach high levels during pregnancy. This is an important part of growing a baby; therefore it’s not a concern… unless cholesterol remains high after giving birth. In a comparative study, published in the Journal of Brain Development, of imaging tests done on babies carried to full term and on those born prematurely, the “good” form of cholesterol — HDL or high-density lipoprotein — appears to play a key role in helping babies form healthy brains.

 


 


BREAST IS BEST WHEN IT COMES TO HEART HEALTH.

Research shows that breast milk, which is naturally rich in cholesterol, may offer heart health security later in life. Studies have found that breastfed babies may have lower cholesterol levels as adults, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 


 

 

INFANT FORMULA HAS ADDED CHOLESTEROL.

To better mimic breast milk, baby formula includes a variety of vitamins, minerals, and, importantly, fats, some of which contain cholesterol. However, there are currently no government guidelines for how much should be added, but it’s clear that cholesterol is critical for vital bodily processes.

 


 


HAVING VERY LOW TOTAL CHOLESTEROL CAN ACTUALLY INCREASE SOME HEALTH RISKS.

High cholesterol can carry artery-clogging risks, but having very low cholesterol can also pose some significant health risks. While research is ongoing, studies have shown that cholesterol levels below 160mg/dL may increase your risk for depression, anxiety, and certain types of cancer—and in pregnancy, can lead to low birth weight and preterm labor. Because cholesterol is involved in the production of sex hormones, low levels can actually lead to infertility. If you tend to have low cholesterol, be sure to talk to your health care provider about what you should do.

 


 


DAILY MINIMUM FOR DIETARY CHOLESTEROL?

Ok, here’s the scoop – you don’t need to consume any cholesterol through the food you eat to maintain your health. Why? Your liver makes enough cholesterol to meet all your body’s needs. Vegans, who eat no animal products — and hence, no cholesterol – do just fine. So how much cholesterol should you aim to consume daily? Aim to keep it under 300 mg if you have normal cholesterol levels, and under 200 mg if you have heart disease or have been diagnosed with high LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol.

 


 


CHOLESTEROL-FREE FOODS CAN ACTUALLY RAISE YOUR CHOLESTEROL

Sounds crazy, right? But doctors cite this as one of the biggest misconceptions they deal with when talking to their patients about cholesterol. So what’s the deal? Many commercially baked goods, along with many fried foods, contain cholesterol-raising trans fats, most often in the form of hydrogenated vegetable oils. Trans fats, along with saturated fats, are the biggest culprits of high cholesterol from food – but are not listed as cholesterol on nutritional labels or food packaging. You have to be a bit of a detective, read ingredient lists and look at nutrition labels closely, before deeming a food purchase a healthy choice.

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