I have been taking the protein powder below for 4-5 years. I was listening to something on the LA Fitness TV that said it is important to select the correct protein powder. I have a protein shake in the morning. I am about 107 lbs. I am working on lowering my cholesterol. Is there a protein powder I should be taking that will be better for me?

– Varsha P.


Compared to consuming whole animal food protein sources, vegan protein sources are better for lowering harmful blood lipids. When it comes to protein drinks, there may be less of a difference because supplements are generally very low in fat, often under 2 grams per 20 grams of protein. While dairy-based supplements may have some dietary cholesterol, either may contain insignificant saturated fat, which is the primary component that’s known to elevate cholesterol levels. Protein powders are a poor source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and plant sterols which are food compounds known to help reduce cholesterol levels.

If you’re limited to the vegan protein powder category, you may not want to stick with one specific supplement for life. As each source offers a different mix of essential amino acids, it’s best to cycle your proteins to get the full range of building blocks your cells require. Of course, you can do that with the whole food protein sources in your diet by getting a variety of legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Doing so will enable you to consume adequate fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and plan sterols needed for blood cholesterol reduction.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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