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Is Diet the Only Source of Cholesterol?

Nowadays cholesterol with its negative influence on the human health has become the talk of the town. In fact, it is cholesterol that is commonly blamed for contributing to the development of heart attacks. Since heart attacks had always been among the leading causes for deaths of many millions people around the world, humans became pretty much scared about these small lipid particles, called cholesterol. Consequently, knowing where cholesterol comes from is the first step towards proper management of high levels of cholesterol.

It is necessary to admit that the whole cholesterol theme is, in fact, surrounded by a significant amount of myths. Some of those myths refer to the sources of cholesterol, saying that certain types of food, like meat or eggs, are the major contributors to cholesterol, circulating in human bloodstream and clogging the arteries.

However, the truth is that 80 % of all cholesterol found in the human body is produced by the body itself. Our liver produces about 1 000 mg of cholesterol daily to maintain all the vitally important processes, such as hormones synthesis, food digestion, and maintenance of cells outside coating. Only a minority of cholesterol comes from the foods we eat.

Consequently, foods are not the only reasons for high cholesterol levels. By the way, that is why following a cholesterol-lowering diet does not necessary cause a reduction of bad cholesterol level. On the other hand, changing a diet is the first option to manage your cholesterol, because in case of success you will not have to use medications, which are not always safe.

Speaking about food sources of cholesterol, we should first of all praise vegetarian style of eating, because it is the only way to avoid cholesterol from the products we eat. All the foods with animal origin do contain certain amounts of cholesterol.

Here is the short list of some foods with a high content of cholesterol (given in mg per 100 g of food): fast food hamburgers and cheeseburgers (~50), fish (~ 70), poultry (~100), all kinds of meat, including beef, veal and pork (~130). But the leadership of cholesterol content belongs to the eggs, namely yolks (egg whites do not contain cholesterol at all). One egg contains about 213 mg of cholesterol, which makes all in all 70 % of daily allowance of cholesterol.

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Even such foods as grilled-cheese sandwich, margarine, cakes, croissants, shakes and ice-creams, which at the first glance have nothing to do with animals, do contain cholesterol, because animal fats could be used during the preparation of those products.

On the other hand, all kinds of vegetables, plants, berries and seeds do not contain cholesterol.

So, as one can see, shifting dietary preferences towards vegetable options and avoiding or, at least, reducing the amount of foods of animal origin in one’s menu may bring benefits in reducing total cholesterol level. However, cholesterol-lowering diet should not be treated as the 100% guarantee of cholesterol reduction. Do not forget, that 80% of all cholesterol is still produced by your own body, and this process can be suppressed only with the help of medications.


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