What Is Cholesterol? Triglycerides?
Cholesterol and triglycerides are two forms of lipid, or fat. Both cholesterol and triglycerides are necessary for life itself. Cholesterol is necessary, among other things, for building cell membranes and for making several essential hormones. Triglycerides, which are chains of high-energy fatty acids, provide much of the energy needed for cells to function.
More About Cholerterol
Cholesterol is a lipidic, waxy alcohol found in the cell membranes and transported in the blood plasma of all animals. It is an essential component of mammalian cell membranes where it is required to establish proper membrane permeability and fluidity. Cholesterol is the principal sterol synthesized by animals, but small quantities are synthesized in other eukaryotes, such as plants and fungi. It is almost completely absent among prokaryotes, which include bacteria. Cholesterol is classified as a sterol (a portmanteau of steroid and alcohol).
Although cholesterol is essential for life, high levels in circulation are associated with atherosclerosis. Cholesterol can be ingested in the diet, recycled within the body through reabsorption of bile in the digestive tract, and produced de novo. For a person of about 150 pounds (68 kg), typical total body cholesterol content is about 35 g, typical daily dietary intake is 200–300 mg in the United States and societies with similar dietary patterns and 1 g per day is synthesized de novo.
The name cholesterol originates from the Greek chole- (bile) and stereos (solid), and the chemical suffix -ol for an alcohol, as François Poulletier de la Salle first identified cholesterol in solid form in gallstones, in 1769. However, it was only in 1815 that chemist Eugène Chevreul named the compound "cholesterine".
Animal fats are complex mixtures of triglycerides, with lesser amounts of phospholipids and cholesterol. Consequently all foods containing animal fat contain cholesterol to varying extents. Major dietary sources of cholesterol include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, poultry, and shrimp. Human breast milk also contains significant quantities of cholesterol. Cholesterol is not present in plant based food sources unless it has been added during the food's preparation. However, plant products such as flax seeds and peanuts contain healthy cholesterol-like compounds called phytosterols, which are suggested to help lower serum cholesterol levels.
Total fat intake, especially saturated fat and trans fat, plays a larger role in blood cholesterol than intake of cholesterol itself. Saturated fat is present in full fat dairy products, animal fats, several types of oil and chocolate. Trans fats are derived from the partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats, and in contrast to other types of fat, they are not essential for life. It is recommended that trans fats be consumed extremely rarely or not at all as they are said to be more harmful than naturally occurring oils. Trans fat can be found in the commercial food supply including fast food, snack foods, fried food and baked goods.