Cholesterol in Plants and Vegan Food
Regarding your cholesterol article, I was wondering which plants contain cholesterol and how much. I saw some biscuits that contained .4 mg of cholesterol per 100 g of the product. The company claimed all ingredients were plant based, but there was quite a stir in a vegan forum regarding that cholesterol amount. Is there an article you can refer me to.
Unbeknownst to most people, the labels on packaged food normally do not represent a laboratory analysis where the various nutrients have been directly measured. Rather, the company takes a list of ingredients and plugs them into a software package which then produces the label based on a combination of all the ingredients and serving size. If one of the ingredients they plug in typically contains cholesterol, then it will contain cholesterol in the result.
As a rule, the USDA nutrient database, which most of these nutrition label generating software applications are based on, just assumes a cholesterol amount of zero for plant foods. Take a look at raw baby carrots at PeaCounter. It lists cholesterol as zero, but it also lists the “data points” as zero. In other words, they didn’t measure it, they just assumed it to be zero.
I don’t know all the ins and outs of the process of producing labels for all foods, and it would seem to me that normally, for biscuits, the company would be plugging in basic nutrients and if they were of plant origin, they would not register any cholesterol on a nutrition label. But in this case, I would guess that the .4 mg of cholesterol shown on this supposedly vegan food was simply a result of inaccurate ingredients plugged into the software. It definitely wasn’t that they included enough plant foods with cholesterol that the cholesterol actually registered in a laboratory analysis.
Here is an article that lists the cholesterol amounts in some plant foods:
Behrman EJ, Gopalan V. Cholesterol and plants. The Journal of Chemical Education. 2005. 82(12):1791. | link to pre-publication PDF
And here are a few of the listings for comparison:
Olive oil, .5-2 mg/kg
Soybean oil, 29 mg/kg
Coconut oil, 14 mg/kg
Egg yolk, 15 g/kg
Butter, 2.5 g/kg
Note that when you move from the plant oils to the animal foods, the units change from mg/kg to g/kg (and a g is 1,000 times more than a mg).