Cholesterol is a hot topic, and has been for quite some time. There’s been lots and lots of research and many chart topping books on the substance.
But what actually is cholesterol, and why should you care?
Cholesterol itself is a waxy, fatty substance that is essential to a huge array of functions within the body, most notably with respect to the walls of every cell in our body. Our body produces cholesterol and produces as much as we need.
Problems often start to occur when we have too much cholesterol. This is most commonly caused by eating foods which contain cholesterol. The waxy substance causes our blood to become sticky, creating the conditions for damage to the inner lining of the artery to occur.
There’s much talk about good and bad forms of cholesterol, but really it is much more complicated.
All you really need to know is that high levels of oxidised bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein or LDL) hugely increases risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Which foods contain cholesterol, and which cause oxidation?
Fortunately the answers are very simple.
No food made from plants contain cholesterol. That’s fruits, vegetables, grains, starches, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
All food made from animals contain cholesterol. That’s beef, lamb, turkey, chicken, rabbit, cat, dog, tuna, salmon, cod, milk, cheese, eggs, and butter.
Oxidation of cholesterol is caused by many factors such as consuming saturated fats, trans fats, pollutants. These fats in particular are found in a huge variety of processed foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries, deep fried food, meat, and dairy.
Notice that the foods which contain cholesterol also cause oxidation. This is a big problem, and this is how data is manipulated to suggest that cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, which is true. Cholesterol alone doesn’t cause heart disease; our bodies produce cholesterol and as a species we’re not in the business of building disease.
The problem is that consuming cholesterol without also consuming large amounts of fat is extremely difficult, and not realistically possible. The only logical solution is to exclude these foods from your diet to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
So, which meats are the lowest in cholesterol?
This is almost a trick question, yet so many people are blinkered by food marketing that they will typically jump to suggesting chicken is the most healthy meat. Perhaps, it is, in the same way low tar cigarettes are more healthy than regular cigarettes. Consider the data.
Here’s the amount of cholesterol in 100 grams of different animal products:
Salmon – 55mg
Chicken – 88mg
Prawns – 189mg
Pork – 80mg
Beef – 90mg
Duck – 84mg
Turkey – 130mg
Eggs – 373mg
Cheese – 103mg
As you can clearly see, all of the foods contain a lot of cholesterol; there are no low cholesterol animal products.
This is where we have a problem. The above foods are marketed as high in protein, which only tells part of the story, and it sells.
They are high in protein, most are extremely high in fat, and high in cholesterol.
But marketing them as high fat, high cholesterol, and high protein wouldn’t sell as well.
All foods derived from animals contain a lot of cholesterol, from the leanest chicken to the most fatty duck. Don’t be fooled into thinking that simply because a meat is marketed as being lean that it won’t contain a lot of cholesterol.
The recommended daily allowance of cholesterol is 300mg, yet it’s not a substance we require at all. This guideline ensures we continue on our current path as having extraordinarily high rates of cardiovascular events in the western world.
In reality, the recommended daily allowance for cholesterol is zero. Cholesterol is essential, but you don’t need to consume it in your diet in the same way that blood is essential but you don’t need to consume it in your diet.
If you’ve decided that now is the right time to make positive changes to your health, forever then you can apply for a discovery session.
Useful? Stay on track with information like this, typically one email a week. For specific enquiries, please use the contact form at the bottom of this website.