FAT. HEART DISEASE. JUNK FOOD. MACCAS.
These are the things your mind probably jumps to when you hear the word ‘cholesterol’, am I right? Now while these ideas are true to an extent, I feel it’s important to clear something up first.
There is a difference between bodily cholesterol and dietary cholesterol.
Our bodies produce a baseline level of cholesterol, and this small amount helps in the creation of hormones, Vitamin D, and in the digestion of foods. Now, because our genetics determine that baseline level, any dietary cholesterol consumed throws this out of balance and contributes excess cholesterol into our bodies. This dietary cholesterol can then contribute to what’s called, ‘atherosclerosis‘, a fancy medical term for saying it basically clogs up and hardens your arteries. Atherosclerosis causes many cardiovascular conditions, with major concerns being heart attacks and strokes.
So where does this dietary cholesterol come from? Animal products. Vegan foods do not contain cholesterol. None. Why? Because plants do not digest food, and plant cells do not manufacture cholesterol. So those potato chips that came to mind when you heard junk food? Cholesterol free. You should be far more concerned about your yoghurt, your milk, your meat, your cheese and your eggs. Those everyday food items you thought were ‘healthy options’, not so healthy.
Did you know that there’s 373mg of cholesterol in a single egg and 24mg of cholesterol in a 250ml serving of cow’s milk?
That probably doesn’t mean much to you right now, but you should have less than 200mg per decilitre (dL) of blood. So even eating one single egg raises your blood cholesterol above this amount. ONE EGG! Even if you don’t eat eggs, you probably eat cakes, biscuits and other things with egg in them, along with meat/fish, milk, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and horribly unhealthy foods that contribute to this figure.
So next time you make a ‘healthy choice’ consider that every excess bit of cholesterol you consume from your yoghurt and muesli, your scrambled eggs or your milky fruit smoothie, you contribute to your risk of heart disease. Also another example of why being vegetarian just doesn’t quite cut it.