For 50 years doctors have ordered their patients to go on low-cholesterol or no-cholesterol diets, and for 50 years their patients by and large haven’t gotten any better from doing so. This very brief article will tell you the one thing you need to know about how many milligrams of cholesterol per day make a healthy diet:
not extracted from your food.
And the total amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream is very, very small.
Suppose you had an astronomically high total cholesterol reading of 1,000 mg/dl. (That’s 25.86 mmol/L.) In your entire bloodstream, you would have about 55 grams, or less than 2 ounces, of cholesterol. If you had a total cholesterol reading of 200 mg/dl, your would have about 5 grams, or about 1/5 of an ounce of cholesterol, in your entire body.
Now suppose you go to some strange foreign country where the health food products are labeled “New! Improved! Cholesterol Added!” and you ate a great big spoon of 25 grams of cholesterol. Would your body be overwhelmed? Would you keel over from a heart attack 5 minutes later?
The answer is no. When you eat lots of cholesterol, the enterocytes lining your intestine stop letting it into your body. The New England Journal of Medicine reported a case in which an 88-year-old man ate an average 25 soft-boiled eggs for 15 years and had normal cholesterol, because his body rejected over 80 per cent of the cholesterol in his food. The cholesterol never got into the bloodstream because there just are not enough receptor sites in the intestines to let it in.
And because cholesterol is used by absolutely every cell in the human body, our livers, intestines, adrenal glands, and gonads make large amounts of cholesterol from excess fat and carbohydrate stored in the form of triglycerides. Every cell in the body can make its own cholesterol from triglycerides, to a certain extent. Even if you eat no cholesterol at all, your body will make cholesterol.
Getting all the cholesterol out of your diet usually does not cause a dramatic change in your blood cholesterol, especially the kinds of cholesterol that are most important to predicting cardiovascular risk. There is one kind of cholesterol, however, that is definitely unhealthy in any amount, and that’s oxycholesterol.
Oxycholesterol is cholesterol found in food that has gone bad. This is the cholesterol in meat you left out too long after cooking it, or in cake mix (made with dried eggs) that you kept beyond its expiration date. It is the cholesterol that is found in the butter you use to sautee veggies.
Oxidized cholesterol is damaged cholesterol that is primed and waiting to be removed by the immune system if it gets inside your body. And, as discussed elsewhere on this site, it the combination of cholesterol and dead white blood cells that calcifies to form arterial plaques.
What about limiting cholesterol to lose weight? The simple fact is, you don’t eat enough cholesterol to make a major difference in your weight, anyway. Even 1,000 mg of cholesterol, which is about what you get if you dine on fast food every day, is just 10 calories – and cutting out half of 10 calories is not going to make your belly fat fade away.
If you want to lose weight, try getting just a little more of the healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. As little as 3 grams of omega-3’s per day, about 5 capsules of fish oil or microalgae, relieves inflammation that makes up to 1/3 of the bulk of your belly. This extra water weight, trapped by inflamed fat and connective tissues, is a very easy target for shrinking your waistline and feeling better fast.