Is Crab Meat High in Cholesterol?

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Crabs are a dietary source of protein and potassium. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Crab meat and other shellfish were once considered taboo if you were watching your cholesterol. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Crabs, like all sources of meat, contain cholesterol. However, as long as you don’t overindulge, they can be a healthy option. The American Heart Association even recommends crab as one of the healthiest choices in terms of meat.

Background

Your body naturally produces cholesterol, but everyone’s body produces a different amount. Therefore, depending on your family history, you may be at a greater risk for high cholesterol. Cholesterol is also consumed through the foods you eat, so a poor diet is also a major risk factor for high cholesterol. If you suspect your cholesterol is high, contact your primary doctor. Your cholesterol can be checked through a simple blood test. Diet alone may not be enough to manage high cholesterol.

Myths

Not long ago shellfish were notorious for the amount of cholesterol they supposedly contained. The confusion was caused by the fact that shellfish contain several types of sterols. Some of the sterols contain cholesterol and others do not. At the time, researchers couldn’t distinguish between the different types of sterols, and they were all counted as cholesterol. This method overestimated the amount of cholesterol that shellfish actually contain.

Amount

Medline Plus advises that healthy adults limit their daily cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg. According to the Swedish Medical Center, one Alaskan king crab leg has 72 mg of cholesterol. One Dungeness crab has 96 mg of cholesterol per crab. By comparison, one large egg contains about 213 mg of cholesterol. Crabs are also a dietary source of protein and potassium, and unlike most meats, they don’t contain any saturated fat.

Considerations

To avoid adding extra fat and cholesterol, it’s important to prepare crab in a healthy fashion. Try steaming them with low-salt seasonings, garlic or other fresh herbs. Preparing them in this manner should eliminate the need for butter. Crabs can also contain mercury and other contaminants. For this reason, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to limit their intake of most types of fish.

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