Monday, May 21, 2012

Take the Quiz - and Get the Skinny on Cholesterol

Even though cholesterol is a household word, how much to do you really know about it? And how much of what you "know" has come from advertising designed to sell you a food or a drug? Take this little quiz and find out.

1. Where does most of the cholesterol in your body come from?
a) From eating red meat, like beef and pork.
b) From eating egg yolks.
c) From eating cured meats, like bacon and sausage.
d) From drinking whole milk and eating butter and cheese.
e) Your liver. 
2. True or False. Everyone with heart disease has an elevated cholesterol level.

3. True or False. We don't need cholesterol, so the less of it we have in our bodies, the better.

4. True or False. The only way diet contributes to high cholesterol is through consumption of animal fats.

Ready for the answers?

1. The answer is e - your body manufactures 70% of the cholesterol floating around in your bloodstream. Surprised? Cholesterol is animal fat, and humans are animals, after all. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver, which is why the liver is the target for cholesterol lowering drugs called statins, such as Lipitor and Crestor. These drugs interfere with liver function in such a way as to lower the amount of cholesterol your body produces.

2. False. 40% of people with heart disease have normal cholesterol levels.

3. False. Cholesterol is essential for good health. In fact, you can't live without it. Cholesterol is the central building block for adrenal and sex hormones. It is one of the components that make up cell membranes. It plays an important role in nerve conduction. Some research indicates that cholesterol may even serve as an antioxidant. Your body also needs cholesterol for the synthesis of Vitamin D.

4. False. Remember that big plate of pasta you ate for lunch? And those breadsticks you had with pizza last night? Those carbs were converted into glucose and stored in your liver to provide energy to fuel physical activity. If you weren't active enough to burn off that glucose within a few hours, it was converted into cholesterol.

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