Cholesterol-rich foods, such as shrimp, do not automatically increase our cholesterol level but can even lower it.
Basically: about a quarter of the cholesterol that we need comes from our food. Three-quarters of the cholesterol needed are formed in the liver and distributed in our body. However, this ratio changes when we take more cholesterol. In this case, the liver produces less cholesterol and vice versa. This finding puts into question current concepts about the influence of cholesterol-containing foods on our health. Since our body wants to keep cholesterol levels at a constant level on its own, it is not a low cholesterol diet that lowers the cholesterol in the blood and not cholesterol-rich foods that increase it. Shrimp and other shellfish contain a lot of cholesterol, which is why it has long been thought to increase cholesterol levels in our bodies. But recent research reveals that the cholesterol in shrimp is not harmful and it even has a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Cholesterol is transported to the cells in the blood by the lipoproteins. These are found in two different forms: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL recovers cholesterol, which is not needed, in the organism for further processing to the liver. LDL can not do this and deposits too much cholesterol, for example, on the vessel walls. HDL is therefore widely recognized as “good”, LDL as “bad” cholesterol. Thus, while the LDL value should be kept as low as possible and not exceed a certain limit, a high HDL cholesterol value is favorable.
For a healthy cholesterol level (HDL> LDL) the supply of sufficient unsaturated fatty acids is important. Mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids are found, for example, in fish, shellfish and vegetable oils. Lean, protein-rich foods such as shrimp and shellfish containing both mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids can reduce the content of less healthy LDL cholesterol in the blood. Although both cholesterol levels increase with regular consumption of shrimp, the ratio of HDL to LDL improves in favor of good cholesterol. Therefore, shrimp has a positive effect on cholesterol balance.
The discussion about cholesterol and high cholesterol foods should be as differentiated as the discussion of fats. There are good and bad fatty acids and there is good and bad cholesterol.