Goodand Bad Cholesterol

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There is only one kind of cholesterol, and it does far more good than harm. When the popular press refers to "good" and "bad" cholesterol, it is actually referring to droplets in the blood called lipoproteins, which are a complex of cholesterol, fat, phospholipids, and protein. So-called bad cholesterol refers to low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which has a high ratio of lipid to protein and contributes to cardiovascular disease. So-called good cholesterol refers to high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which has a lower ratio of lipid to protein and may help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Even when food products are advertised as cholesterol-free, they may be high in saturated fat, which stimulates the body to produce more cholesterol. Palmitic acid seems to be the greatest culprit in stimulating elevated cholesterol levels, while linoleic acid has a cholesterol-lowering effect. Both are shown in figure 2.19. Cardiovascular disease is further discussed at the end of chapter 19, and LDLs and HDLs are more fully explained in chapter 26.

Table 2.7 Some Lipid Functions

Figure 2.21 A Prostaglandin. This is a modified fatty acid with five of its carbon atoms arranged in a ring.

Functional Groups Cholesterol
Figure 2.22 Cholesterol. All steroids have this basic four-ringed structure, with variations in the functional groups and locations of double bonds within the rings.

Type

Fatty acids Triglycerides

Phospholipids

Eicosanoids Fat-soluble vitamins

Cholesterol

Steroid hormones Bile acids

Function

Precursor of triglycerides; source of energy

Energy storage; thermal insulation; filling space; binding organs together; cushioning organs

Major component of cell membranes; aid in fat digestion

Chemical messengers between cells Involved in a variety of functions including blood clotting, wound healing, vision, and calcium absorption

Component of cell membranes; precursor of other steroids

Chemical messengers between cells Steroids that aid in fat digestion and nutrient absorption

Saladin: Anatomy & I 2. The Chemistry of Life I Text I I © The McGraw-Hill

Physiology: The Unity of Companies, 2003 Form and Function, Third Edition

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