Milk forms a part of our daily diet – be it as whole milk or different dairy products such as cheese, cream and yogurts. As with any other naturally available food, milk and its products contain within them fats and cholesterol. Here we shall take a closer look at dairy products and cholesterol.
Types of cholesterol
The level of cholesterol in the blood is reflective of the amount of fat in the circulation, and is directly related to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. There are 2 main kinds of cholesterol – High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, also called good cholesterol and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also called bad cholesterol. While the former protects the arteries from clogging up with fat deposits, the latter is responsible for cardiovascular disease in the form of heart attacks and strokes. It is important to bear in mind that while high levels of blood cholesterol is associated with higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease, fat consumption is essential to maintain normal organ function, hormone production and cell metabolism.
Does milk have cholesterol?Milk is commercially available in variety of forms and is not just limited to cow’s milk. People who enjoy dairy products have to keep in mind that they contain a variety of different fats within them. Whole milk cholesterol is the highest amongst the available forms of milk, while skimmed milk cholesterol is the lowest. Furthermore, saturated fats are higher in whole milk products which are a risk factor for developing heart disease and atherosclerosis (thickening and furring up of arteries due to deposition of fat). Skimmed milk cholesterol levels are extremely low as most of the fats are removed during the skimming process. It is believed to be healthier than other forms of dairy, and there also appears to be some evidence that it lowers blood pressure (see later). But the presence of different levels of fat should not put one off from consuming dairy products. They are rich in calcium and vitamin D which are essential to maintain bone health. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals. These are required from normal functioning of muscles and blood vessels.
Other ‘milks’ that have cholesterol
The presence of cholesterol is not only limited to cow’s milk. There are other forms of milk that are consumed these days that also contain cholesterol and should be kept an eye on when it forms a part of the regular diet. These include –