How Much Cholesterol Should You Take in Per Day?


Quick Answer

The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends a cholesterol intake of less than 200 milligrams a day, as of 2014. According to NCEP, many people consume more than the recommended amount of cholesterol. For instance, the daily intake of an average American man is 360 milligrams, while the average woman consumes between 220 and 260 milligrams.

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Full Answer

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance produced in the liver and other cells. It is also available in certain foods, including eggs, meat and dairy products. Cholesterol is both good and bad; at normal levels, it is a vital substance for the normal functioning of the body. There are four major functions of cholesterol. It contributes to the cell wall structure, makes up the digestive bile acids in the intestines, enhances production of vitamin D in the body, and allows the body to produce some hormones. However, when taken in excessive amounts, it increases the risk of some health hazards. For instance, too much cholesterol leads to the formation of plaque, a hard substance, in the arteries. The plaque deposits lead to the narrowing of the space through which blood flows. This buildup causes atherosclerosis, or hardening of arteries, which may lead to heart disease.

Cholesterol levels can be managed by limiting intake of fat in the diet and exercising. People watching cholesterol levels have to limit saturated fat to no more than 10 percent of their total calories and reduce trans fat intake as much as possible.

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