Ask the experts: Cholesterol in seafood
Q: "Can you please tell me what the cholesterol level is for mussels, and shellfish in general?"Wayne
A: Nutritionist Claire Turnbull responds:
"There are different types of cholesterol found in the body. The two main types are:
- LDL cholesterol – the bad one which can clog up your body vessels.
- HDL cholesterol – the good one which helps get rid of the bad cholesterol.
Cholesterol is naturally made in your body and some is needed to keep our bodies working, including keeping our cells healthy and making essential hormones. The health issue comes when our lifestyle (unhealthy food and not enough exercise) encourages our body to produce far more of the unhealthy cholesterol, which is known to increase the risk of heart disease.
Although some foods are known to contain cholesterol, eg. eggs and shellfish, they actually have very little impact on how much cholesterol ends up in your blood. The saturated and trans fats in your diet are far more important as they are the ones that encourage your body to make more cholesterol which will end up in your blood. This means keeping animal fats, palm and coconut oil and trans fats (often found in processed food) to a minimum.
Shellfish varies in cholesterol content: at the low end there's around 25mg cholesterol in a 1/2 cup of cooked mussels and at the high end, 1/2 cup of cooked shrimp has about 150mg (a medium egg contains around 200mg cholesterol). As it is now well recognised that saturated and trans fats are the ones affecting our blood cholesterol levels, there are no longer any specific recommendations about dietary cholesterol intake."