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Quick Facts

C H O L E S T E R O L


What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids in your bloodstream, and in every cell of your body. Your body produces it and also ingests dietary cholesterol from your food. Cholesterol is used to help form cell membranes, protect the nervous system and produce some hormones and Vitamin D.


Where does cholesterol come from?

Cholesterol is found in meat, poultry, seafood and dairy products; no plant products contain cholesterol. Consuming saturated fats may also be a major factor in raising your blood cholesterol. Because your body also produces cholesterol on its own, you could theoretically cut cholesterol out of your diet completely and your body would never miss it. However, it's difficult to do so while still getting the amount of protein and other nutrients you need to live a healthy life.


How much is too much?

The American Heart association recommends that you limit your average daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less.


What's the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol?

HDL and LDL are often referred to as types of cholesterol, but to be strictly accurate, they are not. Cholesterol is carried in the blood by lipoproteins; LDLs, or low density lipoproteins, carry most of the cholesterol in the blood.

HDLs, or high-density lipoproteins, carry only one-third to one-fourth of the cholesterol in the blood, but HDL is known as the "good" cholesterol anyway, because it appears to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and into the liver, which then flushes it out of your system. A high level of HDL indicates a lower risk of heart disease, while a high level of LDL indicates a higher risk of heart disease.


What is "blood cholesterol level"?

A "blood cholesterol level" measurement quantifies the amount of cholesterol in your blood in milligrams per deciliter of blood. This is the most common measure of blood cholesterol. According to the American Heart Association your total blood cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dL. Anything over 240 mg/dL is considered a high blood cholesterol level.


What happens if your blood cholesterol level is too high?

If your blood cholesterol level is over 200, you are at an increased risk for coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (also known as hardening of the arteries), a disease in which cholesterol combines with other substances to coat arteries, eventually blocking the flow of blood through that artery, and cutting off the blood supply to the heart.


How can you lower your blood cholesterol levels?

Most people can lower their blood cholesterol levels by eating foods that are lower in saturated fatty acids and cholesterol. For some people, even a restricted diet is not enough to put blood cholesterol levels in the safety zone; if this has been the case for you, your physician may prescribe medications to help lower your LDL cholesterol levels.


Some foods high in cholesterol

BEEF:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT.
GROUND, REGULAR, RAW 1lb.
1406
120.5g
49g
385.5mg
75.5g
GROUND LEAN, RAW 1lb.
1197.5
94g
37.5g
340mg
80g
BRISKET, WHOLE, RAW 1lb.
1415.5
120.5g
48.5g
331mg
77g
RIB, WHOLE(6-12), RAW 1lb.
1420
122.5g
50.5g
322mg
74.5g
TENDERLOIN, RAW 1lb.
1283.5
104.5g
42g
322mg
80.5g
GROUND, EXTRA LEAN, RAW 1lb.
1061.5
77.5g
31g
313mg
85g
EGGS:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT.
SCRAMBLED 1 lg.(61g)
101.5
7.5g
2g
214.5mg
7g
RAW 1 lg.(50g)
74.5
5g
1.5g
212.5mg
6g
RAW, YOLK 1 lg.(16.5g)
59.5
5g
1.5g
212.5mg
3g
HARD-BOILED 1 lg.(50g)
77.5
5.5g
1.5g
212mg
6.5g
FRIED 1 lg.(46g)
91.5
7g
2g
211mg
6g
PORK:
ITEM SERV. CALOR. FAT SAT. FAT CHOLEST. PROT.
SPARERIBS, RAW 1lb.
1297.5
107g
40.5g
354mg
77.5g
HAM, WHOLE* 1lb.
1111.5
85.5g
29.5g
331mg
79g
SHOULDER, WHOLE, RAW 1lb.
1070.5
81.5g
28.5g
322mg
78g
HAM, WHOLE, LEAN, RAW 1lb.
617
24.5g
8.5g
308.5mg
93g
Source: USDA - Nutrient Data Lab (Sept. 1996) - all data rounded to nearest 0.5

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