Foods with Cholesterol


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What are the foods with cholesterol?

Since cholesterol is a steroid present only in the cells of the animal kingdom, it is not difficult to make a distinction between foods that contain it and foods that are totally devoid of it (cholesterol-free foods).

Foods with cholesterol mainly fall into 5 food groups:

However, it is not uncommon to find fair quantities of cholesterol even in foods belonging to other groups that require the addition of ingredients of animal origin:

The excessive intake of dietary cholesterol (which represents 30% of circulating cholesterol) associated with that of saturated or hydrogenated fatty acids (especially in trans form) is a determining factor in the onset and maintenance of hypercholesterolemia; this type of alteration involves the excessive increase in LDL lipoproteins (low-density lipoproteins) to the detriment of those which instead remove peripheral cholesterol and lead it towards the liver, the HDLs (high-density lipoproteins). This determines an increase in cardiovascular risk and therefore the manifestation of highly disabling pathological events (cardiac or cerebral ischemia) or premature death.

Cholesterol Content in Food

Foods with cholesterol must be evaluated based on the net content of the steroid (per 100g of edible portion), as the relative concentrations can vary significantly from one food or group to another. It can be defined with certainty that the foods characterized by the highest cholesterol content (hereinafter expressed per 100 g of product) are:

  • Some offal: brain (>2000mg per 100g), kidney (350-400mg), liver (about 200mg) and heart (>150mg)
  • All eggs (at least 370mg)
  • Animal fats for seasoning: butter (250mg), lard (about 100mg) etc
  • Spoon desserts and pastries in general [contenuto in colesterolo non ben determinato ma senz’altro molto elevato]
  • Shellfish: shrimp (150mg), canned crab (100mg) etc.
  • Bivalve molluscs: oyster (150mg), mussel (120mg) etc.
  • All mature dairy products (range from 70 to 110mg)
  • Fatty meat or poultry with skin (varies from 70 to 90mg)

Although it is not advisable to frequently consume foods with a lot of cholesterol, it is important to specify that the above values ​​refer to a net weight of 100g; therefore, foods with a high frequency of consumption BUT characterized by very low weight such as Parmigiano Reggiano (5-10g on the first course) do not represent a risk factor for hypercholesterolemia. On the contrary, foods that often represent a reason for abuse are eggs, fatty meats, other cheeses used as dishes, seasoning fats and sweets.

In case of pre-existing cholesterol alterations (genetic, familial or environmental), it is advisable to moderate the exogenous intake of cholesterol to no more than 200 mg/day, and to accompany foods that contain it with other foods that instead counteract its absorption, among these: legumes, vegetables, fruit and soybean oil. They provide phytosterols, fiber and lecithin which dilute, trap or bind dietary cholesterol in the intestine, hindering its absorption; at the same time, many foods of plant origin contain polyphenols and polyunsaturated fatty acids which significantly contribute to the reduction of blood cholesterol and the optimization of the HDL/LDL ratio.

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