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Mailbag Q & A: Cholesterol Free Shakes?

November 14th, 2008

Shakes give you higher-quality than meats, eggs and fish....with a little or no cholesterol.

Shakes give you higher-quality protein than meats, eggs and fish....with a little or no cholesterol.

Q: We were looking around for a nutrition shake and wanted to know, what products do you have that are cholesterol-free? We’re both on a low-cholesterol diet. Thanks for any suggestions.

Pat and Bernice H.

Cohasset, MA

A: You’ll be glad to know that the vast majority of nutritional supplements are already cholesterol-free or have nutritionally insignificant amounts of cholesterol. None are high-cholesterol when used in typical amounts. This is true of shakes, too. Protein shakes and meal replacement shakes are a great idea for those on low cholesterol diets because they take the place of high-protein higher-cholesterol foods like meats, dairy, seafood and eggs.

As a plant-source protein*, soy protein is completely cholesterol-free, and has an FDA-approved Heart Health Claim associated with using 25 grams of it per day.  So soy protein might be best if you’re looking for cholesterol-free options because of heart health issues or on the advice of your doctor. The Natureade Total Soy Meal Replacement is a hot product in this category, getting rave reviews for its taste (it’s notoriously challenging for brands to formulate soy proteins that taste good).

Cholesterol,  in amounts from just a few milligrams up to about 50 mg, can be found in other popular protein powders like whey, casein and milk protein combinations.  These are more popular than soy proteins; better taste, better absorbed and better for muscle-building.  But even these don’t have much cholesterol relative to the amount of protein they provide.  A single egg, for example, provides 6 mg of protein but at least 200 mg of cholesterol.  A single serving of a whey protein concentrate will provide around 24 grams of protein with, at the most, 50 mg of cholesterol.  So you may want to consider these types too.

If your doctor has put you on a low-cholesterol diet, try to have them clarify how much cholesterol is acceptable per day or per meal.  Chances are the modest amounts in protein powders are acceptable, especially considering that they take the place of high-protein higher-cholesterol animal protein foods like dairy foods, meats, eggs and seafood.

Egg proteins are made from egg whites, so they’re another cholesterol-free option also, but don’t have an associated heart health claim.

Two of these are cholesterol-free.

Two of these are cholesterol-free.

*Cholesterol is only found in the animal kingdom.

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