Here’s help for spotting cholesterol in foods and attacking the risk for heart disease head-on.
ON THE LABEL
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatlike substance that clogs arteries and increases risk of heart attack and stroke. But it may suprise you to learn that cholesterol itself isn’t bad. Your body uses cholesterol to make vitamin D, cell membranes, bile for fat digestion, and hormones such as estrogen. Your body can make all the cholesterol it requires for these purposes on its own, but people consume some in food, too.
Controlling cholesterol Eating foods high in saturated fats and trans fats raises harmful LDL cholesterol levels, triggering inflammation and artery damage. For best cardiovascular protection, people with diabetes should limit daily cholesterol intake to 200 milligrams (mg) or less. But even more importantly, avoid trans fat (it hides in ingredient lists as partially hydrogenated oil) and limit saturated fat. Both raise blood cholesterol levels more than consuming cholesterol itself.
Spotting it: Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals- it’s in both the lean and fatty portions of these foods. We get cholesterol from eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products, as well as from any food made with animal-derived ingredients. Some foods that are high in both saturated or trans fats and cholesterol are baked goods made with eggs and butter or margarine, ice cream, cheeseburgers, cheesy casseroles, chicken with skin and fatty steaks.
THE CHOLESTEROL CLAIM GAME
Nutrition claims appear on packages for everything from taco shells to baked beans 9 (and many foods that don’t normally contain cholesterol). This is what those claims mean.
THE FOOD MUST CONTAIN 2 MG OR LESS CHOLESTEROL AND 2 G OR LESS SATURATED FAT.
The food must contain 20 mg or less cholesterol and 2 g or less saturated fat.
References: Diabetic Living Magazine / WINTER 2013
Author: Marsha McCulloch RD, LD