Thursday, June 4, 2009

June - week #1 - Is Shell Fish High in Cholesterol?

As some of you know I recently had my father-in-law come to live with us after a major heart surgery. So we have had to rethink alot of what we eat and do our best to make heart healthy meals. We all love seafood in my house, so I was curious to find out if the cholesterol in shell fish was OK for him to eat. Shrimp is a staple just like chicken around here. Here is an article I found in the Skinny In the City Newsletter this morning. - Tamra (a.k.a. The Frugal Mom)

Fact or Fiction: If you have high cholesterol, you should avoid shellfish like shrimp, mussels, and clams

Verdict: False

You may have heard that shellfish is high in cholesterol. And while that’s somewhat true, it ends up that dietary cholesterol, found in shellfish and animal products, has less of an effect on the cholesterol levels in our blood than “bad” fat does. In fact, less than half the cholesterol we take in through food is absorbed. Meanwhile, saturated fat and trans fat are the biggest culprits when it comes to increasing artery-clogging cholesterol (LDL). Shellfish have no trans fat and only trace amounts of saturated fat, meaning it’s a good choice for people watching their cholesterol. On top of that, shellfish is a great source of lean protein and contains vitamin B12, niacin, iron, phosphorous, and zinc. Not to mention, it fills you up for relatively few calories. Now that we busted that myth, feel free to enjoy shellfish — shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops, and clam — a few times per week!

If you’re trying to bring your cholesterol down, focus on limiting saturated fat, found mostly in animal products such as egg yolks, dairy products (except non-fat, of course), and high fat meats. Trans fat, which is found mostly in packaged snack foods like cookies, chips, candy, and cake, should also be limited. The American Heart Association recommends that we keep our daily intake of cholesterol to 300 mg a day and less than 7% of our daily calories should from saturated fat. Here’s a list of how much cholesterol and saturated fat is in certain foods:

Cholesterol and saturated fat (per 1 ounce, unless otherwise noted):

Heart healthy:
Mussels and clams: 19 mg cholesterol, .05 grams saturated fat
Shrimp: 55 mg cholesterol, .08 grams saturated fat
Scallops: 15 mg cholesterol, .04 grams saturated fat
Lobster: 21 mg cholesterol, .03 grams saturated fat

Not so heart healthy:
Whole milk: 5 mg cholesterol, .6 grams saturated fat
American cheese: 27 mg cholesterol, 5 grams saturated fat
Cream cheese: 31 mg cholesterol, 6 grams saturated fat
Butter (1 pat): 6 mg cholesterol, 1.4 grams saturated fat
Prime rib: 24 mg cholesterol, 3.5 grams saturated fat
Lamb chop: 26 mg cholesterol, 3.5 grams saturated fat

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