The shift towards more plant-based foods and reduced meat consumption among Europe’s consumers risks worsening an already low intake of choline, says Dr Emma Derbyshire of Nutritional Insight. Choline is a critical nutrient needed for neurocognition, lipid metabolism, liver function and homocysteine regulation and important for memory, mood and muscle control. The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. It is an ‘essential’ nutrient that cannot be produced by the body in amounts needed for human requirements. Choline deficiency is linked to liver disease, offspring cognitive function and potential neurological disorders. Egg consumers had almost twice the usual choline intake compared with non-consumers. The survey also showed that protein, meat and seafood consumption were associated with increased choline intakes compared with non-consumers. Another Canadian study has suggested that the main dietary sources of choline are eggs, dairy products and meat.
Lightbulb Moment: Sadly, choline is a nutrient most consumers have never heard of or don’t know what it does for the body. This insight does bring up a health issue that deserves the backing of a longitudinal study. Another reason not to promote any diet that eliminates entire food groups. Vegetarianism of course can be done in a healthful way as long as key animal-based components are added back – like Vitamin B12 and choline. Want to track plant-based trends going forward? That’s where Culinary Tides, Inc. comes in.