Cholesterol is linked to heart disease so eating foods high in cholesterol is unhealthy, right? No, not exactly. Even though crickets do contain cholesterol there’s a difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Let’s take a closer look to clear up the confusion.
Crickets are high in cholesterol
The reason we want to talk about cholesterol is that insects contain a respectable amount of it. For example, flour from our cricket farm contains 545,67 mg cholesterol in 100 g. That means if you ate 2 of our protein bars, you’d get roughly the same amount of cholesterol as from 1 large egg or 5 large shrimp. But contrary to what some people believe, it’s not a bad thing. Here’s why.
You need cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is a part of the membrane structure of every single cell in your body. You also need it to make hormones and vitamin D and for many other important functions. That’s why your own body makes cholesterol and absorbs it from the foods you eat.
Your body regulates cholesterol
So, eating cholesterol raises your blood cholesterol levels, right? Even though this sounds logical, that’s not how it works for most people. Because cholesterol is such an essential substance in the body its production is tightly regulated. This means that when you get less cholesterol from your diet, your body makes more of it to compensate. And it works both ways, when you eat more cholesterol, your body makes less (1).
Dietary cholesterol is not the enemy
This ability to regulate cholesterol production means dietary cholesterol has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels. And that’s probably also why dietary cholesterol doesn’t corelate strongly with heart disease risk. A big meta-analysis from 2015 that evaluated research published between 1979 and 2013 could not find any connection between dietary cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease (2).
Cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern
The USA removed limits on cholesterol from their 2015 dietary guidelines and other countries are followed. That’s because the Advisory Committee report stated „cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption“(3).
So, while it’s definitely a good idea to go to the doctor and keep your blood cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors in check, dietary cholesterol seems to be just fine.
1) Jones PJ et al., ‘Dietary cholesterol feeding suppresses human cholesterol synthesis measured by deuterium incorporation and urinary mevalonic acid levels.’, Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol., 1996, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8857917
2) Berger et al., ‚ Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.‘, Am J Clin Nutr. 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26109578
3) Williams, ‚ The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report Concerning Dietary Cholesterol.‘, Am J Cardiol, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26341187