Healthy Heart Reports
Cholesterol Absorption From Food
Having high blood levels of cholesterol increaes your chances of getting a heart attack. You raise cholesterol by eating too much fat, saturated fat, partially hydrogenated fat, cholesterol and calories. But your blood cholesterol level is influenced far more by how many calories, and saturated and partially hydrogenated fat you eat than by how much cholesterol is in the food you eat.
Cholesterol is found only in foods from animals, such as meat, fish, chicken, dairy products and eggs. It is not found in plants. More than 80 percent of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver. Less than 20 percent comes from the food that you eat. When you take in more cholesterol, your liver makes less. On the other hand, your liver makes cholesterol from saturated fats. When you eat meat, chicken, and whole-milk dairy products, the saturated fat is broken down by your liver into acetone units. If you are not taking in too many calories, your liver uses the acetone units for energy, but if you are taking in more calories than your body needs, your liver uses these same acetone units to manufacture cholesterol. That explains why taking in two eggs a day does not raise blood cholesterol levels in the average American. They are already taking in so much cholesterol from meat, fish and chicken and diary products, that when they take in more, they absorb less.
An article in the Journal of Lipid Research shows that the average American takes in 350 mg per day of cholesterol. If he takes in 26 mg per day, he absorbs 41 percent. When he takes in 188 mg cholesterol per day, he absorbs only 36 percent, and when he takes in 421 mg per day (the equivalent of two eggs), he absorbs only 25 percent. Some people absorb more than 5 times as much as other people at the same intake. So you lower blood cholesterol levels far more effectively by eating less food, saturated fat and partially hydrogenated fats than you can be restricting meat, fish and chicken for their cholesterol content.
August 1999 The Journal of Lipid Research
Copyright 2001 www.DrMirkin.com
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.
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