Eating cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol! People need to stop worrying about eating cholesterol! Eat all the eggs and shrimp you want!
What raises your cholesterol is saturated fats! These are fats that are SOLID at room temperature. Butter, margarine, cheese, fat on steak, bacon, chicken skin, pork, goose fat, cream, ice cream, and the fat in milk (even though it looks like liquid, it's actually solid fat particles floating around in liquid).
Eighty-five to ninety percent of your total cholesterol comes from your liver. Our liver makes over 85% of our cholesterol! Only a small percentage comes from food you eat. If you don't eat cholesterol, your liver makes more to make up for the difference. If you eat cholesterol, your liver will make less. So it doesn't matter how much you eat!
What tells your liver to make cholesterol?
Fats that are solid at room temperature. Avoid those and you will be ok! If you remember that, you will be fine.
We always tell our patients to first try diet and exercise to help improve their cholesterol numbers. So they go around and stop buying foods that say "cholesterol" on the label, or buy "cholesterol free" foods. Bad idea! You liver will just make up the difference.
What we should tell them to do is to avoid foods that have saturated fat in them. Solid at room temperature! Remember that!
Saturated fats are found in high amounts in:
Butter, Coconut, all those butter substitutes, cheese, pork, lard, ribs, beef, chicken skin, goose fat, veal, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, processed meats, cream, milk and other dairy products, ice cream, etc. You get the picture. SOLID FATS! When you look at that steak and see the marbelling and fat in between the muscle fibers, or the fat on ribs and lamb chops.... IT's SOLID FAT!!!!! (Or animal fat, if you'd like).
Avoid Solid Fat!
But, there are two liquid fats that contain a lot of saturated fat; coconut oil and palm oil. But my guess is no one really eats those. Especially, not here in the United States. Butter, cheese, cream, bacon, pork, and beef are our main problem.
What about trans fats?
These are liquid fats (like vegetable oil) that are heated in the presence of hydrogen to make them semi-solid. Like all those butter substitutes. These are awful!
Trans fats are even worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fat and cholesterol itself because they raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol AND lower HDL ("good") cholesterol.
When reading food labels, look for the words "hydrogenated" and "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list. These foods are loaded with trans fat and saturated fat. Also, look for the words "trans fat" on the food label.
Studies have actually shown that taking humans and aggressively over-feeding them cholesterol does not change their cholesterol profile for the worst. In fact, they found that their bad cholesterol (LDL), actually grows in particle size and can no longer get into the plaques in your arteries. This is good!
So next time you tell patients, "Your cholesterol is a little, high, why don't you try changing your eating habits first." Please explain to them that it's the saturated fat that is the problem, not cholesterol! Tell them to avoid solid fats. For most people, they need to cut back (or eliminate) cheese, butter, chicken skin, steak/pork fat, bacon, milk, ice cream, cream, etc. Please make sure they understand!