Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Where Does Cholesterol Come From?

Of course it's not real shrimp. But it's tasty and nutritious -- VegeUSA's Vegan Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce. This whole plate of "shrimp" is 140 calories, 4 grams of fat, and zero cholesterol.

Did you know that "real" shrimp has twice the cholesterol as the same quantity of beef?

Lately, I've tried an experiment -- I've asked my patients with elevated cholesterol, "Do you know what foods have cholesterol in them?" The answers are interesting. Many patients just don't know. Sweets, oily foods, fat, they say.

The answer is simple: Animals make cholesterol. So anything that was an animal, or came from an animal, has cholesterol in it. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, seafood, dairy, and eggs are full of cholesterol.

A vegan diet, which is a without animal products, is cholesterol-free. And cutting back on animal product consumption, or better yet, following a vegan diet, will lower cholesterol.

27 comments:

Alec said...

That's interesting about real shrimp having twice the cholesterol of beef, I never realized that. I actually thought that seafood was one of the healthier meats you could eat, except for the heavy metals and toxins and all. Were you a fan of real shrimp before going veg? Personally I never like seafood when I was a meat eater, so luckily I didn't have to deal with getting seafood cravings after going veg like I did with beef.

VeggieGirl said...

yep, I've known that about shrimp for a long time - thank goodness for the vegan lifestyle!!

wow, that vegan "shrimp" is eerily authentic-looking, haha.

Christie said...

You know, I never knew that about shrimp. Luckily, I never liked it when I was omni. But I will definitely pass along that info. I know lots of people who eat shrimp.

buddy.s mom said...

I have been a strict vegan for six months and a somewhat more lax vegan (ocasional baked goods) for many years. Yet, my cholesterol remains high at 223.
Any ideas about what i can try ?

VeganHeartDoc said...

Buddy's mom -- It's hard to give you advice not knowing what your HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol) numbers are or your risk factors for coronary disease. You may have a genetic predisposition to generating too much LDL which puts you at increased risk of coronary events, or your HDL may be high which can be protective.

See your doctor, or a cardiologist. And, definitely keep up the vegan diet -- even if it doesn't get your cholesterol down to your goal, it is protective in other ways against heart disease.

Anonymous said...

What? I would have thought with your youth that you'd be better at following current trends than older doctors, but apparently that's not always the case.

High triglycerides, LDL, and LPa is caused by consuming too much high glycemic carbs such as sugars and finely ground grains.

As far as your carrot cake you made for your parents: you didn't include the recipe since it linked to an amazon book, but unless it was made from coconut flour and chia or flax seeds (or the traditional xantham or guar gums), that cake would cause a lot worse cholesterol problems in the body that consuming shrimp would. Or perhaps a cake made from nuts as the 'flour'.

VeganHeartDoc said...

Anonymous: You are correct, High triglycerides, LDL, and LPa are linked to high-glycemic carbohydrate consumption. I don't advocate a high-glycemic diet; instead, I recommend a diet based on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins like beans, lentils, and tofu.

The carrot cake from the other post isn't an ideal health food. It has carrots, but it also has sugar and fat. However, at 375 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 3 grams of protein, it's a better choice than many desserts.

A single slice of carrot cake as a rare treat won't destroy a lipid profile.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to be vegan and can't stick to it. I eat no red meat. Only turkey on holidays. But I have to have seafood. I know things like shrimp and lobster are high in cholestrol...actually, isn't it just shellfish that have this high cholesterol content? I try to have tuna and/or salmon and/or cod every day. Is that bad? I had high cholesterol, but through medication and eliminating red meat and fats it is down. So tell me if I'm compeltely wrong...I thought there's a big difference between the nutritional make up shellfish...and things like salmon and tuna? Salmon and tuna I thought had all the good fat and cholesterol that helps the heart and not the bad. At least, that's what my doctor told me so here I am eating as much tuna, salmon and cod as I can. When I go strictly vegan I just can't ever feel totally satisfied no matter how many beans, quinoa and tofu I eat.

Dwight said...

My cardiologist is prescribing fish oil (Lovaza) to lower triglicerides. I want to take a vegan supplement (V-Pure) but he feels the dose is too low and the EPA/DHA ration all wrong. I'm trying to understand if the ratio matters that much, and if I can safely exceed the recommended V-Pure dosage, and maybe whether I can find a cardiologist near NYC that's more vegan-friendly. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

while shrimp may be high in cholesterol...the cholesterol is harder to absorb than other meats (for an unknown reason). Also, shrimp primarily contains HDL (healthy cholesterol) and has three times less saturated fats than other meats. I like shrimp.


p.s. bacon is delicious.

palmspringwater said...

...even einstein and jesus were vegetarians.

i like that.

palmspringwater said...

you are saying that shrimp cholesterol is easier to digest than bacon and that beef is delicous. that is nonsense...

what are we comparing here? bad with worse?

thanks. I stick to my great vegan food (20+ years). that way i dont have to stress about MY cholesterol levels.

...thats my idea of logical thinking.

x sport said...

why shrimp or beef...why???
thats like joe heart attack against mary cancer.

why would i eat animals?

my liver produces just the right amount of cholesterol. why would i mess up the perfect balance?

be smart...take it easy dude

x sport said...

thanks to vegan heart doc i am now an official blogger.

kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amanda said...

Thanks for the great info, but I do have a question. Since "Cholesterol helps to maintain the flexibility and permeability of cell membranes and is also a raw material for the fatty lubricants that help to keep the skin supple. Cholesterol is essential for the production of sex hormones, cortisol, vitamin D and bile salts", where does a vegan get good cholesterol? I read that plants have it, but only a very very small amount, so that would not be a good source. Thanks!

VeganHeartDoc said...

Amanda -- our bodies produce all of the cholesterol that we need. There is no need to consume more.

christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

my fiance had blookwork done and found out his cholesteral is too low. he is vegan and cannot find foods with cholestral.

Dwight said...

@anonymous: Please be a little more specific about what you mean by "cholesterol is too low" My cardiologist said that for LDL, the lower the better. I'm not a dr and maybe Dr. Shenkman will comment but I think your only concern is if your HDL is too low. For about two years I've been supplementing my LDL taking V-pure, a vegan Omega-3 supplement made from seaweed. See www.v-pure.com - I take 6 caps/day which is more than they recommend but I'm doing it under my cardiologist's supervision. He was very hostile to the idea of vegan supplements but was impressed with the results.

kurtis said...

wow! never thought about that. However, I am on a vegetable diet for months now because my cholesterol is really high :p

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brouillettep said...

Vegetarians should not underestimate the impact of dairy products consumption on cholesterol levels...

Cinderella Tomblin said...

fact: cholesterol is required for the body to synthesize hormones. I have met a few women who have crossed over to raw vegan and now complain their hormones are out of wack and are considering hormone replacement therapy. this does not sound like a good trade off to me. my question is, how can a vegan incorporate moderate levels of cholesterol in her/his diet for healthy hormones?

VeganHeartDoc said...

Cinderella -- not sure any data supports the anecdote that you describe. The body makes all the cholesterol it needs; there is no need to consume additional cholesterol.

favourite waste of time said...

I was told by my doctor that your own body MAKES cholesterol - enough that you don't need to get it in other foods.

g said...

I am Vegan. I was also told by my doctor that my "good" (HDL) cholesterol is "too low" (I don't have my actual report yet to know the exact number).

If your body is NOT producing the amount that it is supposed to be, what would that then indicate? I HAVE been having issues that may be hormone-related: weight loss, hair loss, irritablility: yet my hormone levels are apparently fine (Im 47).

Do I need more Omega 3s and 6s??