Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Main Difference – Cholesterol vs Triglycerides

Cholesterol and triglycerides are types of fat in the blood. Cholesterol levels in the blood depend on the amount of total fat consumed. Saturated fat and trans fat contribute to the total fat. The level of triglycerides in the blood is elevated by the consumption of high levels of calories. The excess calories are converted into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in the fat cells. However, the excess fat, sugary food as well as alcohol may raise triglyceride levels in the blood. Both cholesterol and triglycerides increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The main difference between cholesterol and triglycerides is that cholesterol is a building block of the cell and certain hormones whereas triglycerides serve as an energy source.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Cholesterol
      – Definition, Role in the Body, Elevation
2. What are Triglycerides
      – Definition, Role in the Body, Elevation
3. What are the Similarities Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides
      – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Cardiovascular Disease, Cholesterol, Energy source, High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL), Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL), Steroid Hormones, Triglycerides

Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides - Comparison Summary

What is Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a sterol type compound which consists of the cell membranes and precursors of certain steroid hormones. It is a waxy substance. Some of the cholesterol is produced in the liver and some cholesterol naturally occurs in food. Cholesterol is used in the production of vitamin D and bile for the digestion as well. The normal level of cholesterol in the blood is less than 200 mg/dL. The levels of cholesterol in the blood can be elevated by the consumption of extra saturated fat and trans fat. Too much of cholesterol in the blood may cause cardiovascular diseases. The structure of the cholesterol molecules is shown in figure 1.

Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Figure 1: Cholesterol

Cholesterol is transported through the blood by attaching to lipoproteins. The two main types of cholesterol are the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Since too much of LDL cholesterol is unhealthy, LDL cholesterol is called ‘bad cholesterol'; however, HDL is considered as ‘good cholesterol’.

What are Triglycerides

Triglyceride is an ester that is formed by a glycerol and three fatty acid molecules; it naturally occurs in fats and oils. They are the main form of fat in the body. Triglycerides are the final result of the breaking down of fats during digestion. The extra carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are converted into triglycerides by the body. Then, these triglycerides are trapped into the globules called lipoproteins and are transported through the blood. Finally, triglycerides are taken up by the fat cells. These triglycerides can be later used as an energy source. A triglyceride molecule is shown in figure 2.   

Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Figure 2: Triglyceride

The normal level of triglycerides in blood should be less than 150 mg/dL. The triglycerides level in the body is elevated by the consumption of extra carbohydrates, proteins, and fat (high-calorie).

Similarities Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides

  • Both cholesterol and triglycerides are two types of fat.
  • Both cholesterol and triglycerides are produced in the body.
  • Both cholesterol and triglycerides circulate through blood with the aid of proteins and lipoproteins.
  • The elevated cholesterol and triglycerides levels in the blood increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Difference Between Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Definition

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a sterol type compound which consists of the cell membranes and precursors of certain steroid hormones.

Triglycerides: Triglyceride is an ester which is formed by a glycerol and three fatty acid molecules and naturally occur in fats and oils.

Origin

Cholesterol: Cholesterol can be either produced in the body or come from external food sources.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are produced by the body.

Normal Level

Cholesterol: The normal level of cholesterol in blood should be less than 200 mg/dL.

Triglycerides: The normal level of triglycerides in blood should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Role

Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a building block of the cell and certain hormones.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides serve as an energy source.

Elevation

Cholesterol: Cholesterol level in the blood is elevated by the total fat consumption.

Triglycerides: Triglyceride level in the blood is elevated by the high-calorie consumption.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cholesterol: The elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood leads to cardiovascular disease.

Triglycerides: The elevated triglyceride levels will be a warning sign of the cardiovascular disease.

Conclusion

Cholesterol and triglycerides are two types of lipids in the body. Cholesterol can come from the diet and the body itself produces cholesterol. Triglycerides are produced in the body from carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Cholesterol is used as a building block during the production of cells and certain hormones. Triglycerides are used as an energy source. The main difference between cholesterol and triglycerides is the function of each type of molecule in the body.

Reference:

1. H, Mike. “Cholesterol – The silent killer.” HEART UK, Available here.
2. “Triglycerides and lowering triglyceride levels.” Webmd.boots.com, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Cholesterol” By BorisTM – own work (ISIS/Draw 2.5 –> MS Paint –> Infan View) (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Fat triglyceride shorthand formula” By Wolfgang Schaefer – author (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

Leave a Comment