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TOPIC - Cholesterol
Question
I would like to know what foods I can eat to gain weight and muscle back without increasing my cholesterol. Also is Ensure Plus good for you - does it increase your cholesterol? I saw one of your answers I did not understand - is fish bad for you ie. shrimp etc.? I was at a doctor's office and in a book it said to eat fish three times a week.
Answer
To gain weight, your caloric intake must be greater than your energy output ie. you have to eat more than you burn through activities. For you, that would probably have to be above 2500 calories depending on how active you are. If you would like to gain muscle weight, but not fat weight, you must exercise and do weight training. The only way you are going to gain muscle back is to do weight training to build up muscle.

Ensure Plus® is a high calorie, high protein drink which can help you to put on some weight. It contains 11 grams of fat per 8 oz can of which 1 gram is saturated fat and it has less than 5 mg cholesterol per can (according to manufacturer's information). It can be used as part of a low cholesterol diet since most of the fat content is of the unsaturated type. If you are trying to control your blood cholesterol level, you need to avoid foods high in saturated fat (see answer below).

Shellfish such as prawns, shrimp, crayfish, lobster, etc. contains a fair amount of cholesterol and should be avoided on a low cholesterol diet. On the other hand, finfish such as cod, halibut, salmon, etc. have only a small amount of cholesterol and saturated fat per 100 grams. In addition they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which makes eating them 2-3 times per week is a good idea.
Question
My five year old son loves to eat salmon fish. My husband does not encourage me to give it to him, as he said a doctor mention to him that salmon contains high cholesterol levels (I know salmon contains omega fish oil). What is your advice?
Answer
There is 68 mg of cholesterol in 100 grams of salmon (boneless). That is not particularly high when you compare that to 300 mg of cholesterol in 1 medium egg, or other meats such as beef, pork or poultry which contains 80-120 mg cholesterol per 100 grams. When you compare salmon to other fish, it has about the same amounts: halibut has 41 mg per 100 grams, cod has 62 mg, trout has 69 mg, and sole has 78 mg.

You do not have to be overly concerned about cholesterol intake for your five-year old unless there is a strong family history of hypercholesterolemia (elevated blood cholesterol levels). The recommendation for children is to gradually adopt the adult dietary guidelines of no more than 300 mg cholesterol per day, and to limit total fat intake to 30% of total calories. Salmon may be served as part of a well-balanced diet as it is not that high in cholesterol and you are right - it contains omega-3 fatty acids which are good for prevention of heart disease. Even foods high in cholesterol can be included as part of a well-balanced diet. Just serve lower cholesterol foods the rest of the day and aim not to regularly exceed 300 mg of cholesterol per day.
Question
I would like to know what kind of diet should I take to lower my cholesterol level. Why is it that I am underweight but my cholesterol is high?
Answer
General guidelines for those with high blood cholesterol levels include:
  1. Reduce intake of fat, especially saturated fat. Saturated fats are found in butter, lard, hard margarine, shortening, animal fat, palm oil, etc. Saturated fats are not the same as dietary cholesterol - they are different fats. Saturated fats can be found in both animal and plant products, while cholesterol is ONLY found in animal products. Saturated fats tend to play a bigger role in raising blood cholesterol levels.
  2. Avoid high cholesterol foods such as egg yolks (limit to less than 3 yolks per week), organ meats (liver, brain, kidney, etc.) and shellfish (octopus, prawns, fish roe, etc.).
  3. Include foods containing soluble fiber such as rolled oats and oat bran.
  4. Avoid excessive weight gain. Use the BMI calculator to determine your healthy body weight.
  5. Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week.
Being underweight or at normal weight does not exclude you from having high blood cholesterol levels. If you have a family history of hypercholesterolemia, you are at risk of developing high blood cholesterol levels. Hypercholesterolemia can also be caused by diseases such as diabetes and thyroid, kidney & liver disorders. Other risk factors for hypercholesterolemia include smoking, lack of exercise, excess body weight and a high fat diet.

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