What is the RDA for Cholesterol?

Cholesterol gets a bad rap 1. This fatty substance, also known as a lipid, is often shunned by health enthusiasts. However, bad reputation aside, cholesterol plays several vital roles in the body. For starters, it acts as a precursor to vitamin D and the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, which play a role in reproductive health. Cholesterol also makes up the outer coating of your cells and enables your body to make bile -- a substance needed to properly digest fats 4.

Know Your Limits

According to the Institute of Medicine, the body can synthesize all the cholesterol it needs to function. Because of this, cholesterol recommendations are given as an upper limit, rather than an recommended dietary allowance or RDA. The current recommendation from the Food and Nutrition Board, which is a subgroup of the Institute of Medicine, is to consume no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

What to Choose and What to Lose

What Role Do Lipids Play in the Human Body?

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It's important to note that cholesterol is solely derived from animal based foods. If you are trying to curtail your cholesterol intake, stick to plant-based foods - such as:

  • grains
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • nuts
  • seeds - as they do not contain any cholesterol

Choosing non-fat milk is a great way to stay under the cholesterol recommendations, as non-fat milk contains only 4 milligrams of cholesterol per cup, compared to 33 milligrams in its whole milk counterpart. Eggs are also a significant source, at 212 milligrams of cholesterol per egg.