What is the Difference Between Calories and Cholesterol

The main difference between calories and cholesterol is that calories are the measurement of energy released by the breakdown of food whereas cholesterol is a sterol, a type of lipid having functions other than the production of energy in the body

Calories and cholesterol are two important parameters for the functioning of the body. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fat are the three types of nutrients that produce calories, while cholesterol serves as an essential structural component of the animal cell membrane and as a precursor for the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What are Calories
     – Definition, Formation, Importance
2. What is Cholesterol
     – Definition, Structure, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Calories and Cholesterol
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Calories and Cholesterol
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Calories, Cholesterol, Fat, Heart Disease, LDL

Difference Between Calories and Cholesterol - Comparison Summary

What are Calories 

A calorie is a unit that measures the amount of energy released by the breakdown of food. Moreover, it can measure the amount of energy released from the body during physical activities. Generally, calories come from the three main types of macronutrients that occur in food. They are carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Out of them, fat is the most calorie-rich type of nutrient. Basically, there are nine calories in one gram of fat. However, both carbohydrates and proteins contain four calories per gram. Furthermore, some of the most calorie-rich food include peanut butter, candy bars, cheese, sausages, processed meat, and fried foods. 

What is the Difference Between Calories and Cholesterol

Figure 1: High-Calorie Food

Moreover, calories are important for the maintenance of basal metabolic rate or BMR of the body. Generally, BMR is the amount of energy required for the maintenance of basic metabolic function of the body at rest. Therefore, while performing physical activities, our body burns more calories than BMR. On the other hand, a person requires 1200 calories daily to maintain body weight. Also, the intake of 2000-2300 calories daily is important for the maintenance of a healthy body. However, the intake of 3500 calories increases body weight by one pound.  

What is Cholesterol 

Cholesterol is a modified sterol, which is a type of lipid found in the body. Typically, it serves as an essential structural component of the cell membrane of animals. It also serves as a precursor for the synthesis of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D inside the body. On the other hand, it forms the myelin sheath, which electrically insulates the axon of the neurons to increase the speed of signal transmission. 

Calories vs Cholesterol

Figure 2: Cholesterol

Moreover, cholesterol can be obtained through the diet. Also, the liver synthesizes cholesterol. Additionally, lipoproteins are the carrier molecules which transport cholesterol throughout the body via the blood. Among all lipoproteins, low-density lipoprotein or LDL contains the highest amount of cholesterol. Therefore, their oxidation within arteries can produce clogs, causing atherosclerosis.  

Similarities Between Calories and Cholesterol 

  • Calories and cholesterol are two parameters responsible for the maintenance of a healthy body. 
  • Both are essentially important for the functioning of the body as well. 
  • However, their excessive production may cause health problems in the body. 

Difference Between Calories and Cholesterol 

Definition 

Calories refer to the energy unit commonly used to describe the energy content of food, while cholesterol refers to a compound of the sterol type found in most body tissues serving as a component of the cell membrane and precursor for the synthesis of steroid hormones. Thus, this is the main difference between calories and cholesterol.

Energy Production

Another difference between calories and cholesterol is that calories provide energy to the body, while cholesterol does not provide energy to the body.

Source 

Moreover, calories come from the breakdown of the nutrients in food, including carbohydrates, fat, and proteins while cholesterol either come through the diet or is produced by the liver. 

Importance 

Besides, calories are required for the maintenance of basal metabolic rate and other functioning of the body while cholesterol serves as an essential structural component of the animal cell membrane and as a precursor for the biosynthesis of steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. 

Recommended Intake 

The recommended intake of calories is 2,500 calories per day for men and 2,000 calories per day for women, while the recommended intake of cholesterol is 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. 

Health Effects 

Importantly, the excessive usage of calories can cause weight gain, obesity, and diabetes, while the excessive usage of cholesterol can increase the risk of heart disease. 

Conclusion 

Calories are the measurement of energy released during the breakdown of the three main nutrients in the food, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Generally, this energy is required to maintain the basal metabolic rate while performing other functions. However, excessive calories can cause obesity, weight gain, and diabetes. On the other hand, cholesterol is a type of lipid. It can be obtained through the diet while the liver produces cholesterol inside the body. More importantly, cholesterol plays several key functions of the body. However, excessive cholesterol may increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, the main difference between calories and cholesterol is their importance to the body. 

References:

1. Natenshon, A H. “The Truth About Calories & Cholesterol.” Empowered Kidz, AbigailNatenshon.com, Available Here.
2. “Facts About Cholesterol.” WebMD, WebMD, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Deep-fried foods with dipping sauce” By jeffreyw – Want fries with that? (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia   
2. “Cholesterol” By BorisTM – own work (ISIS/Draw 2.5 –> MS Paint –> Infan View) (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

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