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Image of the Week: Pure Cholesterol Crystal

8 Jan, 2016


It’s the New Year which means lots of discussions about resolutions and healthy living, whether that’s pledging to exercise more often or cutting back on fatty foods. With this in mind our image of the week is from our latest issue of Big Picture which is crammed with facts, illustrations and articles exploring why the world of fats goes far beyond how tightly your trousers fit after Christmas.

This image visualises laboratory prepared crystals of pure cholesterol using a unique lighting effect created with cross-polarisation filters Cholesterol is a type of lipid (or fat), and is transported around the body in the form of high-or low-density fat and protein combinations called ‘lipoproteins’.

The liver produces around 1-2 grams of cholesterol a day. Cholesterol is necessary to produce vitamin D, steroid hormones and bile acids, as well as being an important component of cell membranes. However, a high concentration of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood may increase the chance of heart disease and strokes

According to most sources eating high-cholesterol foods, such as eggs, does not drive up blood cholesterol levels. Instead, the problem lies with eating foods that are high in saturated fats. This is because our livers turn saturated fats, like those in cakes and pastries, into low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the blood.

‘Big Picture’ is a free and impartial educational resource that explores the innovations and implications of cutting-edge science. Our latest issue  gets to grips with the greasy world of fats and lipids to find out what they do, not just inside us and other organisms but also in the world around us.

Wellcome Images is one of the world’s richest and most unusual collections, with themes ranging from medical and social history to contemporary healthcare and

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