Expert Q&A

Prime Rib: Off-Limits If You Have High Cholesterol?

My favorite food is prime rib. Now that I have high cholesterol, can I ever eat it again?

-Kenneth from Mississippi

Why not? High cholesterol does not mean a life of tofu and rice cakes. The problem is often not what we eat, but how much. What does the menu say about the cut of prime rib? You can choose between the 16-ounce king cut or the 12-ounce queen cut, right? That is a lot of meat! The proper amount for everyone is approximately 4 to 6 ounces. So, if you get the king cut, be sure to share it with 3 of your friends.

Your prime rib is probably served with a big baked potato topped with butter or sour cream…Or worse, French fries. Then there is also bread and dessert. All this food could add up to more than 4,000 calories, with a third of the calories coming from fat. If you eat this amount of meat regularly, your cholesterol will stay elevated.

A healthy diet for everyone, even those with normal cholesterol, starts with:

  • Multi-colored vegetables and fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Limited amounts of lean meat or fish.

Meat servings should weigh approximately 4 ounces, which is roughly the size of a deck of playing cards. Occasional meatless days are also good. It is best to avoid, or significantly minimize organ meats such as liver and kidneys, because these meats are very high in fat and cholesterol.

If you stick to a good diet most of the time, an occasional prime rib meal is fine. The important thing is to eat a small portion and to not make it a regular habit. Order the smaller cut and share it or take it home. And skip the fries.

John Messmer, MD
Contributing Expert

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