Other Fats in the Body

In this Article:
Understanding Cholesterol
Other Fats in the Body

Dietary cholesterol is not the monster it is portrayed to be; in fact its effect on our blood cholesterol levels is fairly mild. When systems are firing on all cylinders, the liver works to make sure LDL isn’t gathering in the arteries.

Additionally, eating foods high in cholesterol results in our small intestine actually absorbing less than it might while the liver cuts down on making cholesterol. Blood levels are very high in people known as "cholesterol responders" whose body does not monitor cholesterol properly, but this condition is not common.

Why all the hoopla then? Because, as mentioned earlier, LDL works with other substances in order to build up in the arteries, and here is where we find all the kinds of fat we eat: saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats can be found in lots and lots of foods that come from plant sources, such as peanut, canola and olive oil. Monounsaturated fats, especially when they take the place of saturated fats in food, can bring your LDL number down without hurting your HDL number.

Polyunsaturated fats, like the monos, are found in foods that come from plant sources such as corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils. Like the monos, when substituted for saturated fats, polys lower your LDL number but unlike the monos, they also hurt your HDL number.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats can be found primarily in foods whose source is animals, including meat, chicken, and whole milk dairy products such as cream, milk and cheese, as wall as lard, coconut, and palm oils and the likes of butter.

More than anything else we put in our bodies, saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol level to dangerous heights. If you are using your diet to lower cholesterol levels with weight loss, start by cutting out as much saturated fats as possible.

Trans fat

When liquid vegetable oils get processed into hard or semisoft table spreads and cooking fats, they create trans fat, which may do more damage to your heart and arteries than saturated fats.

According to one study involving 80,000 subjects, scientists have discovered that heart attacks occurred with twice the frequency in subjects who ingested the highest amounts of trans fats over those who ingested the least. However, those subjects getting the highest percentage of calories from total fat (46%) were found to run no greater risk of having a heart attack than the subjects with the lowest percentage of total fat (29%). This is introductory research only.

Dietary cholesterol

Foods rich in cholesterol are typically steeped in dietary fat—especially saturated fat. If you have high blood cholesterol levels, you should consider eating foods that have plenty of cholesterol but not much saturated fat. To this end, your new diet might either skip or cut down on egg yolks, shellfish, shrimp, squid, liver and organ meats. Current public health recommendations urge people to eat between 2-4 egg yokes per week at most, and a reasonable amount of other animal foods.

Fish and fish oil capsules

In fish, we find lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of polyunsaturated fat and which contribute to lower triglycerides in the bloodstream as well as very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). The American Heart Association (AHA) urges people to eat more fish regularly; however, it does not recommend replacing fish with fish oil or fish oil capsules—in fact it recommends not taking them at all—since the research indicating that these can protect against heart disease is inadequate.


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