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Cholesterol: always in animal products, never in plants.

Cholesterol is made in the liver. Cows have livers, too. So do pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish. All their lives they have been making cholesterol and packing it into their muscles and other organs just as humans do. If you were to eat any part of an animal or an animal product such as milk or eggs, some of the animal's cholesterol would make its way into your bloodstream. Plants do not have livers, so grains, vegetables, fruits and all other plant foods never have any cholesterol at all.

Cholesterol in foods has two bad aspects. First, it adds to your own cholesterol, raising the level of cholesterol in the blood. Everyone is different, but as an overall rule of thumb every hundred milligrams of cholesterol in the daily routine adds about five points to your total cholesterol level. What does this look like on your plate? A four-ounce serving of beef contains one hundred milligrams of cholesterol. Four ounces of chicken contains exactly the same amount of cholesterol as beef -- one hundred milligrams, a fact many people find surprising, since chicken is sometimes mischaracterized as a more healthful food. Chicken is slightly lower in fat. But chicken is not at all lower in cholesterol.

Fish vary. A four-ounce serving of tuna has forty milligrams of cholesterol, while haddock or rainbow trout has more than eighty milligrams. None is even close to being cholesterol-free, and some are extremely high - mobile fish like shrimp, lobster and crayfish, for example. Ounce for ounce, shrimp have about double the cholesterol of beef.

Milk and eggs are animal products, so they contain cholesterol, too. Three cups of whole milk contain one hundred milligrams of cholesterol. A single egg contains 213 milligrams.

Although our bodies use cholesterol, we do not need any in our diet. The liver makes plenty for all our needs. If we add cholesterol by including animal products in our diet, cholesterol levels climb unnecessarily.

Cholesterol in foods has a second effect, completely separate from its ability to raise your blood cholesterol levels. The more cholesterol you ingest, the higher the risk of artery blockage, even if you do not have a particularly high level of cholesterol in your blood. ... Numerous studies have shown the effect.
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Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Excerpt
Date:Sep 22, 1995
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