Biology and You

You and Food

What is cholesterol?

Antibiotics are sprayed onto fruit trees and other food-bearing plants to control disease. In addition, antibiotics are added to feed stocks to prevent disease and improve the growth rate among food-producing animals. Scientists have discovered a link between agricultural use of antibiotics, particularly in animal feed, and the increase of food-borne infections in humans who consume products derived from these animals. Resistant bacteria present in animals can survive the slaughtering and meat-packaging process. Undercooked meat will harbor these bacteria and when eaten can cause illness in humans. To further complicate the situation, the antibiotics used to treat humans made ill by infections may be similar to those used routinely in animals, rendering the medication less effective.

Cholesterol belongs to the subclass of lipids known as steroids. Steroids have a unique chemical structure. They are built from four carbon-laden ring structures that are fused together. The human body uses cholesterol to maintain the strength and flexibility of cell membranes. Cholesterol is also the molecule from which steroid hormones and bile acids are built.


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