Food & Nutrition

7 Things Nutrition Experts Wish You Knew About Choline

How do we get choline?

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Luckily, we can get choline (in the form of lecithin), eating foods we already love. “Key sources of choline include egg yolks, shrimp, scallops, beef, peanuts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower and oats,” says Hantzos. Animals sources generally have the highest concentrations of choline, so if you’re vegan, make sure to eat plenty of cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale. You’ll not only get your choline but cancer-fighting benefits to boot. To get more choline in your diet, reach for these foods: beef liver, 3 ounces, 356 mg., wheat germ (toasted), 1 cup, 202 mg., chickpeas (uncooked) 1 cup, 198 mg., egg (large), 147 mg., beef, 3 ounces, 97 mg., chicken breast, 3 ounces, 73 mg., salmon, (pink-canned), 3 ounces, 75 mg., Brussels sprouts, 1 cup, 63 mg., broccoli, 1 cup, 63 mg., skim milk, 8 ounces, 38 mg., peanut butter (smooth), 2 tablespoons, 20 mg. To find choline contents in a specific food, search the USDA food composition website.

Choline for pregnancy

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Folic acid, calcium, and iron are nutrients pregnant women hear a lot about at their prenatal appointments. These nutrients are significant for baby’s growth, development, and preventing neural tube defects, which include anencephaly and spina bifida. Recent research tells us choline may be deserve more attention, however. “Pregnant women are also encouraged to take a prenatal vitamin supplement that contains choline to prevent neural tube defects, and it is also added to infant formulas for babies,” says Gisela Bouvier, RDN, owner of B Nutrition and Wellness, LLC. Research suggests adequate amounts of choline is necessary when the brain is growing and developing, for intelligence, memory, and maybe even mood regulation. Don’t miss the 9 best foods for boosting brain health.

What happens if we don’t get enough choline?

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Choline deficiency can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to a 2014 study published in Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. “This buildup of fat in the liver could become progressively worse, potentially leading to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which indicates significant inflammation and liver cell damage,” says Pietro. “This also increases one’s risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer.” Make sure you know the 9 clear signs you have fatty liver disease.

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