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Question about Dietary Cholesterol vs. Saturated Fat

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 22, 2013 at 3:51 PM

I hear all the time that for the majority of people, dietary cholesterol intake has no affect on blood cholesterol levels. Does the same hold true for saturated fat? Or is there a distinction: dietary cholesterol does not alter cholesterol levels, but saturated fat does. Anyone know?

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 07:23 PM

If you've been eating both eggs and meat and your cholesterol shot up it's going to be difficult to isolate the cause. Eggs contain primarily cholesterol; while meat contains a mix of saturated fat and cholesterol. There's not much way to know which element--saturated fat or cholesterol or a combination of both--is to blame for the rise in your cholesterol. You could try eliminating meat for a while and see if you cholesterol drops. If it does, the saturated fat is your culprit.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 06:44 PM

Yeah, I'm familiar with him and the blog. Really insightful useful stuff. In an interview I heard with him on Chris Kresser's podcast, he seemed to infer that total cholesterol above 250, which is what seems to be the peak total cholesterol in healthy tribal cultures is relevant. I've also come to believe that LDL particle count is far more important than just about any other marker, including ratios. All of this is to say that I am concerned with total cholesterol when it rises above 250 and LDL levels in particular. Hence the question about how to minimize notable increases.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 22, 2013
at 05:02 PM

Could you have low copper intake or low serum vitamin D? Treating either of those, should that be an issue, might help.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:49 PM

More people follow the rule than are exceptions. That's something that paleo theory sometimes omits and ignores.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:38 PM

I ate tons of egg yolks (and meat) and my cholesterol went up. How do I get it down? By eating fish? Thanks!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:37 PM

I was wondering this myself. Thanks for asking!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:32 PM

I'm not totally sure about dietary cholesterol, as I understand it it differs from person to person.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:25 PM

Got it, so saturated fat definitively raises cholesterol, but that's not the case with dietary cholesterol, right? Coconut oil, for example, has loads of saturated fat, but no dietary cholesterol. So eating that in large amounts would raise cholesterol. Eggs, on the other hand, have lots of cholesterol but not much saturated fat. So eating eggs would not raise cholesterol levels the way coconut oil does. Does that sound right?

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4 Answers

1
3a9d5dde5212ccd34b860bb6ed07bbef

on March 22, 2013
at 04:22 PM

Most physicians are of the view that dietary cholesterol has little to no impact on blood cholesterol levels. They recognize that even your avid egg eater can't compete with the liver's own production.

The view on saturated fat is that, yes, it does increase one's cholesterol, particularly, LDL. They do not make the distinction about whether this is large LDL particles or small LDL particles, but that fact that it does seem to increase one's blood cholesterol generally is the concern.

I'm no expert, but just intuitively this makes sense to me. IN the paleolithic, I believe we ate primarily rodents, reptiles, wild pigs, monkeys, birds, eggs, and seafood for protein calories. None of these are nearly as high in saturated fat as foods often heavily consumed today (even among the paleo crowd) such as dairy and beef.

Also, when you eat excess carbs, they are turned into saturated fat. So a hyper caloric high carb diet is not much different (actually I think healthier) than an even iso caloric high saturated fat diet.

Just my two cents.

1
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:18 PM

In the majority of people, compared to other macronutrients, eating saturated fat leads to higher cholesterol. This has been confirmed repeatedly in clinical trials, metabolic ward studies, and supported by long term double blind RCTs.

Some individuals may not see this increase happen, or they may make lifestyle changes at the same time that cancel out the cholesterol increase from sat fat. But in most people, saturated fat increases cholesterol.

"Effect of dietary fatty acids on serum lipids and lipoproteins. A meta-analysis of 27 trial"

"Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials"

"Test of effect of lipid lowering by diet on cardiovascular risk. The Minnesota Coronary Survey"

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:38 PM

I ate tons of egg yolks (and meat) and my cholesterol went up. How do I get it down? By eating fish? Thanks!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:32 PM

I'm not totally sure about dietary cholesterol, as I understand it it differs from person to person.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on March 22, 2013
at 05:02 PM

Could you have low copper intake or low serum vitamin D? Treating either of those, should that be an issue, might help.

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:25 PM

Got it, so saturated fat definitively raises cholesterol, but that's not the case with dietary cholesterol, right? Coconut oil, for example, has loads of saturated fat, but no dietary cholesterol. So eating that in large amounts would raise cholesterol. Eggs, on the other hand, have lots of cholesterol but not much saturated fat. So eating eggs would not raise cholesterol levels the way coconut oil does. Does that sound right?

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 07:23 PM

If you've been eating both eggs and meat and your cholesterol shot up it's going to be difficult to isolate the cause. Eggs contain primarily cholesterol; while meat contains a mix of saturated fat and cholesterol. There's not much way to know which element--saturated fat or cholesterol or a combination of both--is to blame for the rise in your cholesterol. You could try eliminating meat for a while and see if you cholesterol drops. If it does, the saturated fat is your culprit.

0
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on March 22, 2013
at 06:07 PM

I think you need to make a distinction between LDL, HDL and total cholesterol. I personally don't care what my TC is, but am more concerned with certain ratios thereof related to HDL and LDL. If you're particularly interested in cholesterol I would recommend checking out Chris Masterjohn's blog: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/

8894ece18cd108655ed18f2056172c1c

(250)

on March 22, 2013
at 06:44 PM

Yeah, I'm familiar with him and the blog. Really insightful useful stuff. In an interview I heard with him on Chris Kresser's podcast, he seemed to infer that total cholesterol above 250, which is what seems to be the peak total cholesterol in healthy tribal cultures is relevant. I've also come to believe that LDL particle count is far more important than just about any other marker, including ratios. All of this is to say that I am concerned with total cholesterol when it rises above 250 and LDL levels in particular. Hence the question about how to minimize notable increases.

0
800e726cb5dff569fd8edf604c3e2793

on March 22, 2013
at 04:21 PM

Yes, for the majority of people dietary cholesterol does NOT affect blood cholesterol levels but saturated fat DOES.

Having said that, there are lots of exception in that the individual genetics still dominate over "averages".

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 22, 2013
at 04:49 PM

More people follow the rule than are exceptions. That's something that paleo theory sometimes omits and ignores.

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