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‘Tis the season to celebrate! As we gather with friends and family, we snack on tasty appetizers all day, enjoy festive cocktails, including wine with dinner, and cook multi-course meals that include grandma’s favorite sugar-rush recipes. The holidays are full of great food and great memories but aren’t always compatible with a healthy lifestyle – all those indulgent recipes that adorn the Christmas tables can affect our health. But, they don’t necessarily have to be a time of overindulgence and food-based regret. 

Where is cholesterol synthesized?

Cholesterol is a natural fatty substance found in the blood. The majority of cholesterol utilized is synthesized in the liver, which produces ~70% of the total daily cholesterol requirement (~1 gram). The other 30% comes from dietary intake. Cholesterol is used for many different things in the body, but can become a problem when there is too much of it in your system – it then becomes a silent danger that puts people at numerous health risks.

What does cholesterol do in the cell membrane?

You can think of cholesterol as a buffer that helps keep membrane fluidity from getting too high or too low at high and low temperatures. Too much cholesterol can build up on the artery walls and make them narrower, causing blockages, and thus reducing the fluidity of a cell membrane making it less permeable to molecules that would otherwise freely cross.

How does alcohol affect cholesterol?

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine during your holiday celebration (in limited amounts, red wine can actually help reduce cholesterol), but be careful not to overdo it. Drinking alcohol raises the triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood. If your triglyceride levels become too high, they can build up in the liver, causing fatty liver disease. The liver can’t work as well as it should and can’t remove cholesterol from your blood, so your cholesterol levels rise.

Does vegan food have cholesterol?

Those who follow a plant-based diet are known to have lower cholesterol levels compared to those who consume animal products. For a food item to contain dietary cholesterol, it must come from an animal-based source. However, not all processed plant-food products may be healthy for people prone to high cholesterol. There are several vegan processed foods like faux meats and vegan cheeses that are high in saturated fat that can raise bad cholesterol levels.

Why is my cholesterol high if I’m vegan?

Highly processed vegan foods are often high in added sugar, sodium, and artificial ingredients and may increase your cholesterol levels.

What foods are high in cholesterol?

Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Fruits, vegetables, grains, and all other plant foods do not have any cholesterol at all. High levels of cholesterol in your blood are mainly caused by eating foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats, and not including foods with unsaturated fats and with fiber.

How can I check my cholesterol at home?

Home-based medical tests may provide an easy way to test your cholesterol at home. If you don’t mind picking your own finger, you can squeeze a few drops of blood onto a test strip and get the results in a few minutes. But, faster isn’t necessarily better. The results won’t give you all the information you need.

Food and Cholesterol

The holiday season is upon us – a wonderful time to rest, reflect on the year it’s been, spend time with loved ones, and yes, eat a whole mess of food. It’s not uncommon to overindulge during traditional holiday meals, but letting yourself go during holiday meals can do a number on more than just your waistline, which is why it’s important to make healthy decisions. If you’re concerned about managing your food and cholesterol levels during your celebration this year, be wary of these holiday staples.

Cholesterol in seafood and fish

Okay, so cholesterol is bad, and eating fish is good, right? But wait — don’t some fish contain cholesterol? How much cholesterol is in shrimp, salmon, and some of the other delicious sea-derived dishes? Fish and seafood vary in cholesterol content, but most fish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than meat or poultry.

Cholesterol in meat

Dark meat has a higher fat content than white meat, being much higher in saturated fats than any other part of the bird. In contrast, turkey breast or white meat is relatively lean and heart-healthy. For example, you can consider chicken or turkey breasts without skin, pork tenderloin or beef round, sirloin, or tenderloin. Avoid highly processed meats high in fat like bacon, ham, etc.

How much cholesterol is in cheese and dairy products?

Notorious whole-fat dairy products can increase bad cholesterol levels. Cheese, for example, is a food you may associate with high cholesterol. Does this mean you have to strike it off your menu for good? Not necessarily. Cheese and other dairy products are among the foods most likely to raise a person’s cholesterol level, but it will depend on the type.

Which cheese has the lowest cholesterol?

Low-fat and reduced-fat cheeses, like cottage, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese have a much lower fat content. Low-fat yogurt and skim milk are some healthier options. Ditch the butter.


Your mileage may vary depending on what’s going into your recipe, but holiday stuffing frequently uses a lot of butter and meats that are high in fat and cholesterol.

Is Mexican and Chinese food high in cholesterol?

Chinese fatty egg-drop soup, egg rolls, and deep-fried specialties are very high in fat. Hot-and-sour soup, steamed dumplings, and entrees that are steamed or lightly stir-fried are better choices. There’s no denying that Mexican food is also delicious. But, many of the entrees are made with oil, lard, and salt, and loaded with cheese and sour cream.