You Had a Question About Cholesterol?

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on March 6, 2014 · 0 comments

Your doctor has told you to “watch your cholesterol.” Your numbers are up and you want to bring them down. You leave the office and then think of questions you wished you had asked. You aren’t alone. Here are some common questions people frequently ask us about cholesterol.

To lower my cholesterol, do I have to stop eating steak?

All foods can fit into a low cholesterol diet, but some may need a little more negotiation than others. You can enjoy a steak every now and then. Four ounces of porterhouse has 80 milligrams of cholesterol, so make sure to keep the portion size moderate. Consider choices for the entire meal, balancing your high cholesterol choice with low-cholesterol accompaniments — go easy on salad dressing, cheese, butter, and high fat desserts. Let the steak be the splurge.

Do I have to stop eating eggs?

Eggs are healthy and you don’t have to give them up, just eat them in moderation. A large egg has 186 milligrams of cholesterol. Having a scrambled egg for breakfast is no problem if you are aiming for 300 milligrams or less cholesterol a day. If you need to restrict your cholesterol to 200 milligrams a day, you’ll need to make nonmeat, nondairy choices for lunch and dinner. One egg can be stretched into a larger serving by add the white of another egg or using an egg substitute, both of which are cholesterol free. People incorrectly believe that the cholesterol in eggs is more potent than the cholesterol found in other foods. This simply isn’t tru 

Can large meals make my cholesterol go up?

Some research shows that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps to lower cholesterol. Research subjects that ate 6 times a day had on average 5% lower cholesterol levels than those who ate 1 or 2 times a day. This seems like a small difference, but small changes can add up to a significant impact on your cholesterol level and your ultimate risk for heart disease.


Will drinking wine help lower my cholesterol?

Alcohol in moderation, especially red wine, has been linked with higher HDL (good) cholesterol and an overall lower risk for heart disease. For those who don’t drink, purple grape juice also provides a protective effect.

Will drinking coffee raise my cholesterol?

Regularly drinking coffee made by the French-press process can increase cholesterol as much as 14%. Drip coffee, the preferred method in the U.S., has no effect on cholesterol levels. But when researchers looked at decaf coffee drinkers versus regular coffee drinkers, those drinking decaf had slightly higher LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Nobody knows exactly why, though the difference may lie in the beans — robusta beans are normally used for decaf and arabica beans for regular coffee. If you order small coffee and drink 4 cups or less a day, you’ll be fine.

Is it true that we don’t absorb all the cholesterol we eat?

Most of us think that every milligram of cholesterol we eat goes straight to our arteries, but it doesn’t work like that. Not all cholesterol is bad. Some of the cholesterol you eat is used in the body to insulate nerve cells, help skin retain moisture, and produce hormones and bile. It also part of our brains. And, it’s true, not all cholesterol you eat is absorbed.

For more information about cholesterol and a look at the latest recommendations to keep your heart healthy, look at our latest book, The Fat and Cholesterol Counter, (Pocket Books, 2014).

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