We’re cool with choline

Choline foodsThe next chapter in usual scare tactic of “if you follow a plant-based diet, you’ll be missing something and get into all kinds of trouble” is choline.

A new opinion piece in the British Medical Journal—by an author with egg and meat industry ties and who is concerned with “accelerated food trends towards plant-based diets/veganism”—is stirring up all kinds of confusion about choline, so we thought we’d clear the air and share the facts.

Choline can appear in food in many forms, including as just choline (also known as free choline), phosphatidylcholine (also known as lecithin), and sphingomyelin. Research has shown that choline is important for the formation of cell membranes, various physiological processes and for making acetylcholine which transmits messages in the nervous system including the brain. It’s especially important for pregnant women.

Part of the choline we need is manufactured by our own bodies, but some must also come from our diet. The good news is that there’s no need to eat animal products to get the choline you need, since a variety of plant-based foods can meet the need for choline such as:

  • bananas,
  • broccoli,
  • kidney beans,
  • pasta
  • pistachios,
  • pumpkin seeds,
  • quinoa,
  • red potatoes,
  • shitake mushrooms,
  • soy,
  • tomato sauce,
  • wheat germ.

Eating normal amounts of these plant foods and others will give you all the choline you need. It is also present in breast milk and infant formulas.

The message is still the same. Eat a wide variety of plant foods and, with exception of vitamin B12, you’ll get everything you need for a healthy life.