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Cholesterol — this very word is sure to send shivers down your spine. Yes, it has been demonized for a while now. But how can something, which is naturally produced by our body be harmful? That’s what celebrity nutritionist Parul Malhotra Bahl says, while speaking with Health Shots.
Here’s what she adds, “Cholesterol is a fat-like substance, naturally produced in our liver. It is an essential building block for our cell membranes. In addition, cholesterol is necessary for producing hormones, vitamin D, and bile which works to digest fatty foods.”
Recent research shows that, for most people, eating healthy high cholesterol foods is not harmful. Moreover, some cholesterol-rich foods are loaded with important nutrients that are often missing from people’s diets.
“Eggs contain about 60% of the daily value of cholesterol you need, and only 8% of your allowance for saturated fat. They are high in protein, low in calories and contain B vitamins, as well as iron and disease-fighting nutrients. Thus, one must include eggs in their diet,” shares Bahl.
Some shellfish like shrimps are high in cholesterol but almost negligible in saturated fats. They also serve as a great source of protein, B vitamins, selenium, iron, and zinc. Thus, it’s pretty safe and healthy to consume shellfish like shrimps, clams, and crab.
Different types of cheese have varying nutritional content, but most varieties provide a healthy amount of calcium, protein, vitamin A, and B vitamins. Since they are high in calories and even saturated fat, consuming cheese in limited portion sizes is important.
“Full-fat yogurt is a cholesterol-rich food packed with nutrients such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Being a fermented food, it’s good for intestinal and gut health,” says Bahl, adding that since it’s a little high in saturated fats, one needs to watch the portion size.
“The nutritional benefits of healthy high-cholesterol foods generally outweigh the cholesterol content in them. Thus, they must be included in your diet. Most people can consume healthy high cholesterol foods in moderation, along with a balanced diet. If you are confused and don’t know how to add these healthy cholesterol-rich foods to your diet, reach out to your doctor or nutritionist,” shares Bahl.
She adds that foods that are high in cholesterol, as well as saturated and trans fats like fried foods, processed foods, packaged foods, and desserts, must be avoided. And yes, those who already have high blood cholesterol levels must limit any type of high cholesterol foods (even, if healthy) in their diet.