do we really need cholesterol in our diets? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-21-2006, 01:44 PM
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so i have heard many different opinions... that we need dietary cholesterol in addition to what our live already makes. what have you guys heard/read on this topic?

thanks!
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#2 Old 07-21-2006, 01:52 PM
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I don't think the average person needs to consume choleserol tho there is a member on this forum who has a medical condition where her body doesn't produce enough.



eta: what I have read on the topic mostly comes from uni. texts etc. I've never heard that we need to consume it. Acutally, veg*ns are at high risk for cholesterol problems because of all the starchy carbs we consume. eta: maybe i'm just thinking of triglycerides...i've had TG problems due to my crazy starch in take.
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#3 Old 07-21-2006, 02:06 PM
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Too little cholesterol is dangerous, because your cell wlls are made up of cholesterol. Without it, your cell walls can erode and eventually lead to cancer. Everything in moderation.
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#4 Old 07-21-2006, 02:24 PM
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Originally Posted by healthnut32 View Post

Too little cholesterol is dangerous, because your cell wlls are made up of cholesterol. Without it, your cell walls can erode and eventually lead to cancer. Everything in moderation.

It's not possible for a vegan to consume any cholesterol. So, consumption of sat fats helps our liver produce cholesterol? tho I've not sure how that works.
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#5 Old 07-21-2006, 03:02 PM
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Hmmmm-good point. Must be why mine has dropped so quickly. But do we have to eat animal fats for our bodies to make cholesterol? There are plenty of non-animal sources of fat. Maybe there's another VB-er who can explain it to us. Anyone??
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#6 Old 07-21-2006, 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by healthnut32 View Post

Hmmmm-good point. Must be why mine has dropped so quickly.

Have you checked out your triglycerides? I was very dissapointed when I ran my lipid profile last year in the lab...shocked actually. I obviously don't consume animal products and I don't eat a lot of fat in general but for a long time I had such weakness for breads, pastas...etc. I'm italian, it's in my genes to love the stuff!



Quote:
But do we have to eat animal fats for our bodies to make cholesterol?

No, I don't think so. A saturated fat is a saturated fat. I've heard people say there is some kind of difference but I don't see how.



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There are plenty of non-animal sources of fat. Maybe there's another VB-er who can explain it to us. Anyone??

I was reading something on the net a while ago that said our intake of sat fats helps our liver produce cholesterol. I guess it's a component of lipo-proteins, tho I don't see why our body can't make sat fats either. I don't find lipids all that interesting so maybe someone will come around and shed some light.
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#7 Old 07-21-2006, 03:32 PM
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Here's some interesting commentaries

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Cholesterol is a waxy type of fat that is present in all animal tissues.

Babies get it from their mother's milk. We could not exist without

cholesterol because it is a structural component of all body cells and

also an important building block for the body to make some hormones,

vitamin D and the bile acids needed to digest fats. That's the good news

about cholesterol.





We also need to look at a more sinister side of cholesterol. Because the

body must have some cholesterol, we have a way to make it in the liver.

This is essential for those who do not eat animal foods, but sometimes

the body's cholesterol-making mechanism goes into overdrive and produces

too much. This excess cholesterol circulates in the blood attached to

proteins called low density lipoproteins (or LDL). LDL cholesterol (or

"bad" cholesterol) can clog arteries and impede blood flow to vital

organs such as the heart.

http://listproc.ucdavis.edu/archives...0605/0016.html



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Your body gets cholesterol in three ways:



your body makes it (your liver manufactures all the cholesterol, your body needs)

you eat it (all animal products contain cholesterol)

you eat foods high in saturated fat, which causes increased cholesterol production by the liver, even though your body doesn’t need the excess.

http://www.sa.sc.edu/Wellness/cholesterol.html
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#8 Old 07-21-2006, 03:33 PM
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All the research I've seen says that the human body produces all the cholesterol it needs.



The only food products that contain cholesterol come from animals, and the human body does not need this excess cholesterol as it makes enough on its own. Thus, the consumption of animal-produced cholesterol, in items such as meat, pork, cheese, and other dairy is not beneficial and is actually harmful in the long-term to all people.



Fat and cholesterol are not the same thing. Plant-based fats contain no cholesterol, AFAIK.
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#9 Old 07-21-2006, 03:37 PM
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Babies need it, that's why it is in breast milk, or so I've read.



On eating foods that cause the body to make cholesterol, there is sooooo much conflicting info out there. Some say saturated fats cause cholesterol production, some say it doesn't. Some say fruit, yes I read somewhere fruit, does. Some say soybean oil. And there is more.



I figure I'll worry about it when I'm old, you know, eating all those foods that lower cholesterol and not eating any cholesterol.

A plastic hutch is no substitute for a mother. Replace dairy, not mothers.
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#10 Old 07-21-2006, 03:44 PM
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Originally Posted by faded_amaranth View Post

Babies need it, that's why it is in breast milk, or so I've read.



On eating foods that cause the body to make cholesterol, there is sooooo much conflicting info out there. Some say saturated fats cause cholesterol production, some say it doesn't. Some say fruit, yes I read somewhere fruit, does. Some say soybean oil. And there is more.



I figure I'll worry about it when I'm old, you know, eating all those foods that lower cholesterol and not eating any cholesterol.



I don't know about that. Artheroscelorsis for example, begins in childhood for many people, slowing chipping a way at vessels.
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#11 Old 07-21-2006, 04:01 PM
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I don't believe anyone needs to eat animal products. My mom suffers from low cholestrol issues due to a terminal illness and she claimed that she needed to continue eating dairy to try to boost her levels. I asked her, out of curiousity, to ask the nutritionist she was seeing if it was possible to follow a vegan diet and boost your cholestrol levels and she said that she said it was possible and, in most cases, preferable.

She had given her a list of foods but I didn't really look at them. I could try to find it if anyone wants to know.

Short answer though, nope I don't think you need animal products but I think lots of people would love that as an "excuse" to keep chowing cheese.

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#12 Old 07-21-2006, 06:06 PM
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1. Most people have no trouble manufacturing all the cholesterol they need in their livers. people with certain medical conditions are the rare exception and not the rule.



2. Most people get too much dietary cholesterol, and the hardening of the arteries can start at a very young age - even in some obese CHILDREN. Even back during the vietnam war, doctors were shocked to see how much difference there was between the arteries of 20 year old americans and 20-year-old vietnamese (who ate a much lower fat, lower cholesterol diet.)



You cannot simply wait until you are older and have a problem to care about your vascular health. Good eating habits while young will give you a huge advantage when you are older.
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#13 Old 07-22-2006, 06:22 AM
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I would start by reading the book Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus.



It is important to note a number of things about cholesterol. First, it is necessary for cell health, hormonal stability and health (particularly sex hormones), and for neurological function. Second, when on a healthy diet, the body will naturally balance out cholesterol needs. If one consumes cholesterol in diet, then the body will not produce as much to meet bodily needs because cholesterol is available through diet. If one does not consume cholesterol, then the body will usually produce enough to meet bodily needs. In some cases, this mechanism breaks down either producing too much cholesterol or not enough. The reasons for this are only theorhetical and more study is needed.



High cholesterol may not necessarily be a problem. First, cholesterol needs vary individual to individual. Some individuals get symptoms of 'low cholesterol' problems (unexplained sadness or depression, cognative problems and related neurological problems, and hormonal imbalances causing various problems including infertility) even when their numbers are 'normal' or even 'above normal.' High cholesterol levels also have secondary symptoms if those levels are problematic.



Second, for some individuals--such as infants and menopausal women--higher cholesterol is both a protective and developmental need for a certain period of time. For infants and young children (and perhaps until adulthood), dietary cholesterol helps build cells, maintain hormonal development, and help with brain and nervous system development and growth. For menopausal women, higher cholesterol helps maintain even hormonal levels while the body changes it's hormonal spectrum away from fertiltiy and into menopause. Women with higher cholesterol during this time have fewer sexual problems (production of vaginal fluid for example) and have less incidence of issues with bone density loss and related health problems, than those women who try to lower their cholesterol during menopause. After menopause has ended (that is, the process of the change often called perimenopause), the cholesterol levels even out, but still may be higher than during her fertility phase for the purpose of maintaining sexual hormones that allow for sexual arousal and pleasure, as well as to protect the body from bone and fat loss as the body ages.



High cholesterol can be a problem when it's part of a larger picture of health problems. This high cholesterol often has dietary connections, but may also be due to a broken mechanism. Generally speaking, the body's mechanism for maintaining the appropriate cholesterol production is quite functional when the cholesterol coming into the body comes from good sources--meat, dairy, and eggs from well cared for and properly fed animals. Similarly, saturated fat, in and of itself isn't that bad. Taken into the body through meat, dairy, or oils such as olive or coconut oil, 'real' saturated fat is used for two purposes: first it is broken down and used for energy. second, it is used in cell membranes with cholesterol to keep the electrical pulses and nutrient balances functioning.



But, this only works if the diet itself is healthy. If the diet has a lot of processed sugars, processed flours, and rancid, hydrogenated oils, then the body will convert these elements into 'sticky' saturated fat, which in turn causes an increased production of cholesterol to strive to remove and utilize this sticky saturated fat in the cells. Often, on top of these foods, individuals eat excessive amounts of meat, dairy, and eggs--and often not from the best sources available--which adds cholesterol to the whole system, and thus making cholesterol levels even higher. This also shows up in the triglyceride spectrum.



To lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels under these unhealthy conditions, it is important to remove processed sugar, processed flours (in favor of sprouted, whole-grain flours), and hydrogenated oils from the diet. In conjunction with this, increasing bean intake as well as betaine (beet sugar from beets or found in wines processed using beat sugar) helps remove 'sticky' saturated fat from the body over time, lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The cholesterol mechanism balances out based on the cholesterol that is consumed--cholesterol found in animal fats in meats, dairy, and eggs, producing only what is necessary to maintain health.



Now, there can be the opposite problem--cholesterol levels that are too low. Low cholesterol levels cause problems with sexual hormones and those systems which it impacts, emotional/psychiatric problems (unexplained sadness and depression), and often cognative and neurological problems. Of course, what constitutes as "low" varies from individual to individual. Two individuals can have the same 'cholesterol numbers' and yet have very different physical experiences--one can be the picture of health while the other might be depressed, mentally cloudy or unable to think clearly, or have any number of sexual problems (fertility, etc). When there are 'secondary symptoms' of low cholesterol, then there is a problem. Otherwise, just as with high cholesterol (the number itself isn't enough to demonstrate a problem, but secondary characteristics such as various heart or circulatory problems, weight gain, etc), only some people may have a problem with 'low cholesterol.'



Generally speaking, it is difficult to have 'low cholesterol' problems. Many people find that moving away from processed sugar, flour, and hydrogenated oil causes their cholesterol levels to decrease significantly, and they notice a dynamic change in their health because of this. The mechanism naturally balances out, using whatever good cholesterol comes in through diet.



Often, people will decrease the amount of cholesterol they consume. This is often a good change in people on SAD--they let go of processed sugar, flour, and hydrogenated oils as well as decreasing the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs that they consume. This also helps balance out the mechanism--and may lower their cholesterol to healthy levels for them. Even so, their levels may be 'higher' or 'lower' than other omnivores depending on their individual needs--often determined through genetics, sex, and developmental stage (age).



For those individuals who do not consume any cholesterol, their bodies may be able to produce enough to meet their needs. By in large, those individuals with a functioning mechanism for balancing out cholesterol needs will find a way to make enough to meet all of the needs for the uses of cholesterol in the body. But, even these individuals can have 'high" levels of cholesterol--which may not be problematic. It may be exactly what this individual needs. but if that individual is consuming processed sugar, processed carbohydrates, and hydrogenated oils on a regular basis, then their cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be inappropriately high. A diet free of these foods will help bring the body into appropriate triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The numbers may not be 'low' by any charts--particularly for children and menopausal women--but they still may be healthy if there are no secondary symptoms.



The real issues of cholesterol--the real problem--is when the production mechanism doesn't work. As i mentioned before, there is no hard and fast understanding as to why the mechanism might break. And, in some cases, there is this assumption that the mechanism is broken when it may not be--for example with high cholesterol because our current medical-social thought is that high cholesterol is 'per se bad' rather than only problematic for those individuals who have high cholesterol and other symptoms or side effects for having high cholesterol.



it is possible, of course, to have cholesterol that is too low, and it may be necessary in these cases to consume cholesterol in order to have a healthy cholesterol level. Often, cholesterol levels can be raised through the increase and balancing of the EFA spectrum (balancing omega 3 and 6), increasing saturated fat intake, and increasing exercise. But, if these do not raise the cholesterol, consuming cholesterol in diet--through meat, eggs or dairy--is necessary. It is not necessary to choose all three, and it only requires that one consumes enough to remove secondary symptoms of low cholesterol--increasing cholesterol to the appropriate level for them.



This is my case. I'm ovo-lacto vegetarian so that i can maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Roughly two years ago--after 5 years of veganism--my cholesterol levels were very low and i had cognative and psychological difficulties that couldn't be attributed to other causes (b12, psychological or behavoiral patterns or situations, etc). Cholesterol was the problem, and the solution.
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#14 Old 07-22-2006, 10:51 AM
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One thing I'm wondering is how refined carbohydrates raise triglyceride levels.



ebola
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#15 Old 07-22-2006, 05:36 PM
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gnome:



read the book.
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#16 Old 07-22-2006, 05:38 PM
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Man, I produce all the cholesterol I need in my own liver and THEN some!! I was testing well into the 200's during my brief vegan stint. (by brief I mean about a year... it was a failed attempt to correct digestive problems) Even when I was a kid I had high cholesterol. My liver is a cholesterol FACTORY!! Fortunately, it also produces lots of good cholesterol, so while my total is over 200, my ratio is 3:1 (which is excellent).

http://megatarian.blogspot.com
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#17 Old 07-23-2006, 02:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bstutzma View Post

1. Most people have no trouble manufacturing all the cholesterol they need in their livers. people with certain medical conditions are the rare exception and not the rule.



2. Most people get too much dietary cholesterol, and the hardening of the arteries can start at a very young age - even in some obese CHILDREN. Even back during the vietnam war, doctors were shocked to see how much difference there was between the arteries of 20 year old americans and 20-year-old vietnamese (who ate a much lower fat, lower cholesterol diet.)



You cannot simply wait until you are older and have a problem to care about your vascular health. Good eating habits while young will give you a huge advantage when you are older.







Excellent post. This about sums it up for me too.
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#18 Old 07-23-2006, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Gnome Chomsky View Post

One thing I'm wondering is how refined carbohydrates raise triglyceride levels.



ebola

Glucose and insulin "initiate" transcription factors involved in gene expression for fatty acid synthesis in the liver. An analogy of a transcription factor is sort of like a key that would be used in a lock. If a transcription factor is present, gene expression will ocurr. It's really not as simple as this tho and if you want me to get into it in more detail I will. It's fascinating stuff.
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#19 Old 07-25-2006, 12:59 AM
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Cool.

That's probably the level of explanation my layperson mind can handle.

I am wondering, though, what the functional role of this fatty acid synthesis is...WHY our body responds to glucose and insulin in this way.



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#20 Old 07-25-2006, 10:27 AM
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Cool.

That's probably the level of explanation my layperson mind can handle.

I am wondering, though, what the functional role of this fatty acid synthesis is...

I am sure you can understand how important fat is for the human body. Or don't you? We could explore the various roles of fat in the human body.



Quote:
WHY our body responds to glucose and insulin in this way.



ebola

Why is it that glucose and insulin act as initiators for transcription factors in FA synth? I'm sure it was a naturally devoloped mechanism as part of our evolution as a species, like anything. That's a pretty big question tho . Am I maybe not understanding your question?
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#21 Old 07-25-2006, 12:46 PM
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>>Why is it that glucose and insulin act as initiators for transcription factors in FA synth? I'm sure it was a naturally devoloped mechanism as part of our evolution as a species, like anything.>>



Or, rather, I'm wondering why, specifically, it is useful to our body to synthesize additional fatty acids when glucose and/or insulin is/are present.



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#22 Old 07-25-2006, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnome Chomsky View Post

>>Why is it that glucose and insulin act as initiators for transcription factors in FA synth? I'm sure it was a naturally devoloped mechanism as part of our evolution as a species, like anything.>>



Or, rather, I'm wondering why, specifically, it is useful to our body to synthesize additional fatty acids when glucose and/or insulin is/are present.



ebola

I don't understand your "why" questions!!! lol. Are you getting philosophical on me ebola? How's are so much easier imo.
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#23 Old 07-27-2006, 12:03 PM
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Or...I'm probably not phrasing things correctly.

Is there some metabolic function that our body performs when additional glucose or insulin is present that is aided by additional fatty acid synthesis?



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#24 Old 07-27-2006, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Gnome Chomsky View Post

Or...I'm probably not phrasing things correctly.

Is there some metabolic function that our body performs when additional glucose or insulin is present that is aided by additional fatty acid synthesis?



ebola







When one ingests glucose, the process of glycolosis occurs. During this process enyzmes are released that if released in excess can stimulate triglyceride production - which is made from fatty acids.



I think the answer to your question is no. There is no metabolic function that is added by additional fatty acid synthesis, since fatty acid synthesis occurs simultaneously with glycolosis.



Fatty acids are synthesized from the fats we eat. Just like glucose is broken down carbs and amino acids are broken down proteins.
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#25 Old 07-27-2006, 07:52 PM
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I guess tweety understands your question ebola. Tweety, can you explain to me what you both me by aided? Ebola, are you referring to the usefullness of excess FA synthesis?
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#26 Old 07-28-2006, 12:15 AM
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I might've used the phrase "metabolic function" sloppily.



So if I understand correctly, then, the enzymes that our body releases in the process of glycolisis happen to lead to additional triglyceride production, but there's no "reason" that additional tryglyceride production would be beneficial in the presence of excess glucose (in any evolutionary scenario we can imagine).



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#27 Old 07-28-2006, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Gnome Chomsky View Post

I might've used the phrase "metabolic function" sloppily.



So if I understand correctly, then, the enzymes that our body releases in the process of glycolisis happen to lead to additional triglyceride production, but there's no "reason" that additional tryglyceride production would be beneficial in the presence of excess glucose (in any evolutionary scenario we can imagine).



ebola

Why not for simple energy storage? I can see where that would be useful for any species.
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#28 Old 07-28-2006, 10:03 AM
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ah...so as your body intakes calories via carbohydrates, it produces triglycerides in order to store calories. Sorry for making my question so complicated.



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#29 Old 07-28-2006, 04:52 PM
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ah...so as your body intakes calories via carbohydrates, it produces triglycerides in order to store calories. Sorry for making my question so complicated.



ebola





I think you are understanding.



I'm not real up on triglyceride formation, however, I do understand that at during the metablolism of carbs, there's an enzyme produced that also stimulates triglyceride production.



Most triglycerides in the blood comes from the food we eat. But they also can be produced by the carbs. I think to have harmful levels of triglycerides in the blood you need an excess of intake, of fat and carbs both, not just carbs. Because a triglyceride is three fatty acids attached to one glycerol. Triglycerides are carried to fat cells for for body fat.



So, the typical American diet with it's high intake of refined carbs, and saturated fats from meats can equal high triglycerides.



The typical vegetarian diet, while typically high in carbs, is usually lower in saturated and other fat, so the vegetarian ordinarily doesn't have high triglycerides even though we eat a lot of carbs.



I'm not the triglyceride guru, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm sure there are other things to consider in how triglycerides are formed, but this is how I understand the carb-triglyceride connection.
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#30 Old 07-28-2006, 08:57 PM
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saturated fat, though, in the right amounts is really healthy. ultimately, saturated fat, whether it comes from an animal or from a plant is basicly the same. it's the amounts per serving that are different. An omnivorous diet that takes this into account can be as healthy as a vegetarian one that does the same.
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