Choline: The neglected nutrient with huge health benefits

Nov 30, 2019
Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, meat, fish and dairy. Source: Getty

Choline is an essential nutrient linked to so many incredible health benefits, but chances are you haven’t heard much about it.

A relative newcomer to the nutrient scene, choline is a vitamin-like nutrient that’s crucial to your body’s function. But, a shocking 90 per cent of Australians aren’t getting enough choline, so Starts at 60 spoke to Sharon Natoli, director at Food and Nutrition Australia, to find out why choline is so good for you and how you can easily include it in your diet.

Health benefits of choline

Choline is not very well known, but it has been the subject of a number of studies in recent years, the Sydney-based dietician explains.

Choline plays an important role in many processes in your body, including fat and cholesterol transport, energy metabolism, and cell and nerve signalling.

Studies have also shown a link between choline intake and Alzheimer’s disease. A recent study published in August 2019 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that choline is associated with a reduced risk of dementia.

There is also evidence that a choline-rich diet builds stronger bones, Natoli explains. This is particularly important in older adults, as everyone gradually loses muscle and bone mass as they get older, and if not addressed, weaker muscles and bones can impact your strength and balance over time.

Meanwhile, a higher intake of choline is also associated with a reduced risk of heart and liver disease.

How to get enough choline

Although your body produces some choline naturally, most of us don’t produce enough to meet the body’s requirements, so adding choline to your diet is super important.

Natoli recommends eating choline daily – according to the National Health and Medical Research Council, the recommended daily intake for choline is

Choline can be found in foods such as eggs, meat, fish and dairy, as well as some green vegetables, fruits and whole grains. However, eggs are the best, providing more than double the amount of choline per 100g than other choline-rich foods.

Adding more choline to your diet

Apart from whipping up boiled or scrambled eggs every day, Natoli says choline can be prepared in a number of ways. When it comes to quick and tasty dinners, it’s hard to go past a delicious leafy green salad topped with red meat or tuna. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle tofu or lentils are a fantastic meat substitute, Natoli advises.

And if you’re short on time, an omelette filled with choline-rich veggies, such as mushrooms, broccoli and beans, served on wholegrain toast is also a winner.

“An omelette [filled with] vegetables is a great idea for breakfast to give you a good start,” Natoli advises.

Or try whipping up a veggie-packed frittata or a classic salmon patty for dinner (they make a yummy snack for the next day).

Sound delicious? Here’s a tasty frittata recipe from Australian Eggs.

Corn and broccoli slice

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 400g can of corn kernels
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley or chives
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease a square baking dish with olive oil or butter
  2. Drain the corn kernels and set aside
  3. Chop the broccoli into very fine florets. Roughly chop the herbs.
  4. Mix together the corn, broccoli and herbs (plus the cheese if you’re using it) and spread evenly into the baking dish
  5. Whisk together the eggs, then whisk in the flour, milk and salt and pepper to taste
  6. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the rest of the ingredients. Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes.

Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.

Info & tips to help you stay healthy and enjoy your 60s

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