The Real Deal About Fats and Cholesterol: Find Out Why NOT All of Them are Bad for You

Know your (good) fat and eat it too! (photo credit from http://culinarytravel.blogspot.com/2008/11/good-fat-vs-bad-fat.html).

You hear fat and cholesterol and you immediately cringe at the thought of getting too much of these two from the food you eat that you immediately discard that piece of steak you’re about to devour. But are they one and the same? When you’re fat, does it mean that you have high level of cholesterol? When your cholesterol level is high, does it mean that your body is also high in fats?  Could you be reed-thin, but still have a high cholesterol level?  Or you could be fat and  not have a high cholesterol level?

First, let’s get to know what fat and cholesterol are.  Let me begin by telling you  that both are essential nutrients that our body needs.

Fat is a nutrient that we all need as it provides essential fatty acids(linolenic and lionoleic acids) which the human body cannot produce on its own. Fat also produces energy (or calories) needed for physical activities. Fats can also make food taste better, aid in cooking, and help keep the hunger pangs away.

Know your (good) fat and eat it too! (photo credit from http://culinarytravel.blogspot.com/2008/11/good-fat-vs-bad-fat.html).

Cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like compound either produced by our body or ingested  thru food, is an essential part of cells in the body and is used to make certain hormones and digest fats. This compound is carried via the blood with the help of molecules called lipoprotein. There are two types of lipoproteins- and both are important.  The low density lipoproteins (LDL) take cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body while the high density lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the body tissues back to liver. By themselves, these two types of lipoproteins are not harmful, but it is the amount of LDL that you have to watch.

Excess amounts of LDL can increase the risk of heart diseases, as high levels of LDL can form plaque deposits in the arteries and blood vessel walls that feed the heart and brain, thus making them the “bad cholesterols.” Together with other substances, it can contribute to the build up of plaque, which are hard fat deposits that can narrow the arteries, which makes them less flexible and can eventually  block the blood flow to the heart, resulting  to a heart attack or a stroke.

HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good cholesterol” because it protects against heart disease by taking the bad cholesterol out of the blood and keeping it from building up in the arteries.

The higher the level of LDL, the greater the risk. In contrast, high levels of HDL cholesterol means more protection for the heart.

How do you increase and decrease  the level of cholesterol in your blood? As I’ve mentioned earlier, cholesterol can either be produced by our body or ingested  thru food and most

You can get different types of fat from the food you eat: trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats and omega fatty acids.Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil, nuts and seeds and Omega-3 fatty acids, found mainly found in higher-fat, cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring as well as omega-3 fortified eggs, as research have shown,  help lower levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

Trans fats, oil to which hydrogen is added, not only does it have little to offer in nutritional value, but is also a major contributor to obesity. Trans fat, mostly  found from processed liquid vegetable oil (and processed food) and small amounts that can occur naturally in animal meat (such as beef and lamb) can cause weight gain and can increase the LDL level, thus increasing the the risk of heart disease. Being overweight can also shorten life span and raise the risk of other  like diabetes, certain forms of cancer and high blood pressure.

So you can be fat, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you could have a high level of cholesterol, but you can also be reed-thin and have high levels of cholesterol.

Does this mean that you have to cut fat off your diet? Of course notHigh cholesterol levels are not due to the amount of fat that you eat, but more the type of fat that you eat, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Eating some fat is necessary. Nutritionists suggest that the total daily intake of fat should be anywhere between 15 – 30 percent of  your total calories, with less than 10 percent coming from saturated fat. Your diet doesn’t have to be fat-free. It’s just a matter of knowing and choosing the right “fat” to eat and minimizing your intake of the “bad” fat.
Web References:

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09319.html

http://www.wisegeek.com/why-is-it-bad-to-eat-too-much-fat.htm

http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/culinaryreference/a/fattable.htm

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/understanding-trans-fats

http://cholesterol.about.com/od/understandingyourfats/qt/lowerfattips.htm

http://healthmeup.com/news-healthy-living/what-is-the-difference-between-cholesterol-and-fat/16873