Without It, We Would Die
Most people think that it is a kind of fat, but actually it's an alcohol with lipid-like properties. It serves numerous functions in the body, such as assisting the permeability of cell membranes and serving as the base of sex hormone molecules, cortisol, and Vitamin D.
How do we get it?
Our livers naturally produce it -- approximately 1 gram of the substance per day. We store it in the gallbladder. We also get it through our diets.
How does it travel in the body?
It is shuttled about by substances known as lipoproteins. Major lipoprotein classes include chylomicrons, high density lipoproteins (HDLs), and low density lipoproteins (LDLs). There are also two more important classes -- intermediate density lipoproteins (IDLs) and very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs). Different lipoproteins play vastly different biochemical roles. Indeed, one of the great debates in dietary science over the past half-a-century has centered around the roles of lipoproteins as they relate to cholesterol transport and deposition.
What are some foods that contain it?
- Egg yolks
- Other products made from or with animal fats
- Peanuts and almonds
How is testing typically done to determine levels in the blood?
Standard tests look for levels of HDLs, LDLs, and triglycerides. These tests do not, however, differentiate between LDL and VLDL levels. As you'll see if you keep reading this website, this oversight potentially holds key consequences.
Is there a debate about whether dietary cholesterol is really
bad for you?
Contrary to what you might have heard from the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, many medical professionals, and your neighbor, yes -- good scientists and doctors disagree about this issue!
But isn't there a consensus among physicians and researchers that it is an unmitigated evil?
No. Sure, if you polled every doctor in the U.S., chances are most would say it's generally bad for you (hence the constant advice to avoid egg yolks and such). And sure, the scientists who challenge this orthodoxy are unfortunately often painted as quacks or, worse, as shills of the beef and poultry industry.
But the reality is that sterol biochemistry is exceedingly complicated. And evidence abounds to finger dietary carbohydrates instead as the likely source of many of society's health problems.
For more information, review
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