I’ve been asked this question several times and want to take a moment to explain how the cholesterol found in foods relates to your blood cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is found in animal products, such as cheese, steak, and eggs. You will not find cholesterol from plant sources. The cholesterol in foods is simply “dietary cholesterol”. It is neither “good” nor “bad”. When you consume a food containing cholesterol the different components of the food are processed by the body. The liver packages the dietary cholesterol into low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This is where the labels “good” and “bad” come into play. (FYI – There are other packages, such as very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol, but for simplicity we’ll stick with LDL and HDL.)
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Leading organizations, such as the American Heart Association, has been recommended sugar intake be reduced for quite some time due to the direct link to increasing obesity rates. However, an actual limit or recommendation on sugar consumption had never been established until recently.
It’s now recommended that added sugars, this would be the sugar added to foods during processing, be limited to no more than 100 calories per day for women and no more than 150 calories per day for men. This means limiting added sugars to 5-9 teaspoons per day.
Might not seem like a big deal until you compare this recommendation to the current average amount of added sugar consumed US individual daily – 22 teaspoons. Twenty-two teaspoons of sugar equals about 350 extra calories each day. To give you a reference – 1 can of regular soda provides 130 calories of added sugar.
Unfortunately distinguishing between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars can be tricky. Added sugars are often identified as “syrup” on food labels.
All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Heart Healthy Tips