CHOLESTEROL is a type of fat that exists in all our cell membranes. It is vital for functions such as nerve transmission, the formation of vitamin D and the formation of bile. Approximately 80 percent of cholesterol is produced in your liver, with the other 20 percent coming from diet.
Cholesterol is only found in animal products and not in vegetable oils such as avocado or olive. Shellfish, for example, contain very little fat, but high levels of cholesterol, while nut butters are high in fat and low in cholesterol.
From recent research we now know the cholesterol in the food we eat is not a problem and has very little impact on your cholesterol levels. In fact, why high cholesterol foods are good for you is because the less cholesterol you get from foods, the more your body makes. Your body makes around one to two grams of cholesterol every day, which is five to ten times the cholesterol found in one egg.
When you eat more cholesterol from foods such as shellfish or eggs, your body produces less of it. The less cholesterol you eat – the more your body makes.
Cholesterol has to travel in the bloodstream and, in order to do so, is combined with a protein to create a lipoprotein, of which there are two main types: LDL – sometimes call ‘bad’, which carry cholesterol to the artery wall, and HDL – often called ‘good’, which helps to return cholesterol to the liver. High LDL causes damaged and inflamed arterial walls, also depositing saturated fats and calcium, called arterial plaque or atheroma. The balance of these two lipoproteins in the blood is more important that the total cholesterol.