Difference between Cholesterol & Triglycerides

Fats, aren’t they public enemy number one? What are they exactly?

For many, many years fats have been believed to be the reason for weight gain, clogging up of blood vessels, increasing your risk at diseases such as breast or bowl cancer or even heart ailments. However, this is not the entire truth, is it?

Fats are complex and they are one of the three main macronutrients; along with proteins and carbohydrates that are required for your diet. However, not all fats are the same and have a negative effect on your health. Your body does require a certain amount of fats in the body to function.

Two of the most commonly associated terms that have been associated with fats are Cholesterol & Triglycerides. Are these two the same and what is the main difference between them? While both are fatty substances (lipids) that are present in our bloodstream, triglycerides are the fats whereas cholesterol is NOT.

Triglycerides are the subgroup o f lipids and are the main constituent of body fat. There are different kinds of fats, the saturated  (bad/unhealthy) fats, unsaturated fats (healthy) fats, cis fat, omega fatty acids and trans fat.     

Triglycerides are fats that we get directly from the foods we eat. This means that we externally rely on food substances to create triglycerides.

They get their name from their structure, i.e. the liver builds them from raw elements of fatty acids and glucose. While they can be stored in the liver, they can also be even sent to other parts of the body to be stored intramuscularly.

However, high amounts of triglycerides in the body can be harmful. This happens when excessive calories are consumed. The extra calories automatically get converted into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells.  They usually come from eating excessive amounts of carbohydrates and fats from your diet.

However, cholesterol cannot be mistaken as fat. Unlike triglycerides, cholesterol comes from two direct sources- your body and from external food sources.
Cholesterol is a waxy, fax-like substance that can be found in all of the cells of the body. Cholesterol is a lipid but not a fat and is made by the liver. Cholesterol is considered to be a builder inside the body, i.e. required to make hormones, substances to digest your food and even vitamin D. Cholesterol is known for playing a crucial role in building sex hormones, stress hormones,

Cholesterol travels in the body in packages called lipoproteins which are made up of fat (lipid) on the inside and protein on the outside. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the body and they include low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

Triglycerides can be burned off to create energy that is required by the body. On the other hand cholesterol is used for different bodily functions such as producing hormones or aiding in digestion, etc.

The amount of fat consumed by the body affects the cholesterol levels in the body; whereas the number of calories that are consumed effect the triglycerides level.  

It is easy to find out both your triglycerides and calorie level through a simple blood test. While the normal range for triglycerides is below 150, your LDL should not be less than 100. As for HDL, the higher the level, the better it is.    

In the next blog, find out how to reduce your cholesterol levels.