Aug 23, 2010

Cashew, Coconut, Cows and Cholesterol

Lets get this straight, Cholesterol is only made by animals (including our own livers) and hence found in animal origin products like milk, butter,curds/yogurt, ghee, cheese, eggs and all kinds of meats (fish is also meat).

When I tell people I make/ eat cheese made with cashews or I use Coconut milk, many times they are baffled about how much cholesterol I am putting into my body. A Vegan diet is absolutely free of cholesterol because it omits anything that comes from an animal.

What baffles me even more is that when I look at dairy product labels, they say it's cholesterol free. I once read the nutrient table on a pack of flavoured yogurt (Go Dahi by Gowardhan Dairy) and I was surprised that the cholesterol content was a nice, big zero. I wrote to them asking how is that possible? Are they actually removing the cholesterol out of milk?! I got a reply saying that milk contains 10mg of cholesterol per 100g and since they only have to list the 'nutritional facts' till the first decimal per 10gms of the product, they are not bound by law to mention how much cholesterol is there in 100gms or 200 gms or whatever the weight of their product.

I don't know how much cholesterol is there in milk. The site promoting the Indian dairy industry states that cows milk has 3.14mg of cholesterol per gram. But it could be wrong since there are many conflicting articles about the amount of cholesterol in milk. All I know is that it has cholesterol and I don't need it.

Anything that comes from plants including plant based oils like peanut and coconut oil, all the nuts like cashews, almonds, peanuts - do NOT have any cholesterol, despite what people tell you. Just ask them to do some reading (which they don't do and continue to believe some crazy things). I don't think that most doctors even remember what cholesterol is anymore, so asking doctors might not be a good idea. But you have to know that oils are highly refined foods and devoid of any nutrition. It is much better to eat some peanuts rather than add peanut oil to your food, that way the food is going into your body with the fiber intact. Oils have zero fiber like all animal products (meat, fish, milk and eggs) and when you consume a diet high in non-fibrous food you are asking for trouble. Many people have successfully reversed heart disease, diabetes and obesity just by eating only fibrous food and omitting all animal products, oils and other refined foods.

Besides the questions and worried looks I get about cholesterol, I also get questions about calcium and protein. I found a good article about cows milk and implications of its consumption here: http://veg.ca/content/view/139/110/

Cholesterol is essential for our body, but our livers make it for us. Many people have been able to lead healthier lives by totally eliminating the cholesterol and the unnecessary saturated fats that are found in all products of animal origin. Plants do contain minuscule amounts of sterols (28gms in about 565 kgs) which are similar in their structure to that of animal origin cholesterol. But no one will ever tell you that the carrot on your plate is going to give you a heart attack.













5 comments:

  1. Good point Rithika. It is important to be clear about the fact that cholesterol is made only by the liver; therefore plant-based foods do not contain cholesterol, even though they may contain sterols which in no way can cause heart attacks! In fact your post makes me think how ignorant we are about what we eat and why we eat them. We seem to not use rational thinking in deciding the ingredients of our diet! Amrita

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  2. True. People really need to up the ante!

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  3. People needs to be educated about various health issues. And we see long queue generally waiting of people for getting admission in to the hospital. Surprisingly, people do not have hitch to take medicines and surgeries.

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  4. Hi Radhika
    I think you are misguiding people about cholesterol.
    that's true that cholesterol is made by liver and all animal product contains saturated fat that is converted into cholesterol in our body by our liver.
    but their are also vegetable oils witch contains saturated fats.
    and in our Indian cooking we heat oil ( for tadaka ) which is even bad for our body.If their is no fat in vegetable then their won't be a high cholesterol issue to any vegetarian and no heart attack risk.

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    1. Hi Reema,

      Thank you for your concern. I'm sorry you felt that way, but it was not my intention. My intention was to make it clear that anything that comes from vegetables does not CONTAIN cholesterol. The word 'cholesterol' has been very loosely used for a long time, enough to create confusion. That is why all the vegetable oil producers proudly state that their oils contain 0% cholesterol and people buy into it without knowing the whole story. People will go and buy a sunflower oil because it does not contain cholesterol and avoid using grated coconuts because they think coconuts have cholesterol.

      This write up was mainly about cholesterol and not about saturated fat and hence I have not tackled the issue here. If you see my other posts, you will know that i am against adding any oil to food as much as I am against consuming animal products. For example, you will see it here: http://veganontheprowl.blogspot.in/2012/02/oil-free-lime-vermicelli-noodles-sevai.html

      The so called vegetarians not only consume too much oil, but also too much animal products in the form of milk, cheese, ghee, paneer and eggs. And hence we are seeing vegetarians getting the same diseases as the non-vegetarians.

      Since you mentioned it, I will add a line about it here. :)

      Thanks!

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