Does Milk Contain Cholesterol?

by Janet Renee, MS, RD

If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, you'll should pay close attention to the cholesterol in the foods you eat and beverages you drink. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance is found in animal foods, and milk contains varying amounts of cholesterol. Milk is sold based on its fat content. If you check the refrigerator aisle of your local grocer, you're likely to see labels such as 2 percent, 1 percent or whole milk. This refers to the amount of milk fat in the milk, which is the fatty portion of milk. Milk with a reduced milk-fat content will have a lower cholesterol content.

The Skinny on Cholesterol in Milk

If you have risk factors for heart disease, aim to consume less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day, recommends the University of California-San Francisco. One cup of whole milk contains 33 milligrams of cholesterol. A cup of low-fat milk contains 10 milligrams, and the same amount of non-fat milk contains 4 milligrams of cholesterol. Southern Illinois University lists whole milk under foods to avoid for its high cholesterol and saturated fat content.

Better Options

If cholesterol is an issue for you, make the switch from whole to low-fat or non-fat milk. Another option is to replace cow's milk with soy milk. Soy milk has no cholesterol and almost no saturated fat. In addition, it contains healthy polyunsaturated fats. If that's not enough to convince you, consider that consuming 2 1/2 cups of soy milk each day can lower cholesterol by 5 to 6 percent, according to Harvard Medical School.

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About the Author

Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.