Cholesterol

Hi there!

When I wrote about egg nutrition, I promised I would talk a little more about cholesterol.

So here I am, keeping my promise.

What is cholesterol?

This is actually not the easiest question to answer. As a nutrient, dietary cholesterol is a special type of fat found only in animal foods. Unlike other fats, cholesterol cannot be broken down to provide calories.

Cholesterol

Why is cholesterol good for you?

  • Needed for the synthesis of bile acids, hormones, and vitamin D

Did you know: all body cells are capable of making enough cholesterol to meet their needs so we don’t actually need to eat cholesterol.

What are some cholesterol rich foods?

Organ meats and egg yolks are the richest sources of cholesterol but it is also found in other animal foods. Here are a few examples

Food Milligrams (mg)
1 egg yolk 187
3.5 oz beef liver 389
3.5 oz shrimp 194
3.5 oz beef sirloin 89
3.5 oz chicken liver 631

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 300 mg per day of dietary cholesterol.

Is the cholesterol in foods HDL or LDL cholesterol?

Neither.

When you eat foods with cholesterol, the dietary cholesterol gets absorbed and carried through the blood in a little package called a chylomicron. Eventually the chylomicron carries the dietary cholesterol to the liver and some of it gets repackaged with varying amounts of fatty acids, proteins and other compounds. Packages that contain only a small amount of fatty acids are called HDL. Packages that contain more fatty acids are called VLDL and eventually become LDL.

A high intake of dietary saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids causes more VLDL to be made, resulting in higher LDL cholesterol.

Dietary cholesterol has been shown to raise blood LDL cholesterol in some people, but the potential negative effects of dietary cholesterol are relatively small compared to those of saturated and trans fatty acids.

What you need to know: Dietary cholesterol is less of a concern than saturated and trans fats. Generally speaking, if you watch your saturated fat intake, your cholesterol intake will be low as well since if a food is high in one, it tends to be high in the other. 

Independent of other dietary factors, evidence suggests that one egg per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. 

Do you ever avoid foods because they are high in cholesterol?
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1 Comment

  1. Such an awesome blog. I just got through making a list of all the foods I need to start adding to my diet and the ones I need to stay away from (Oh why must OREO’s be loaded with trans-fat?)

    Reply

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