Is Beef Bone Marrow High in Cholesterol? A Nutritionist’s Take

Bone marrow has become a trendy superfood in recent years, popping up on the menus of high-end restaurants and health food stores. This fatty substance extracted from animal bones provides a burst of rich, meaty flavor. But with all that fat, is bone marrow bad for your cholesterol? I dug into the nutrition facts as a dietitian to find out.

What is Bone Marrow?

Bone marrow refers to the soft, spongy tissue inside bones. It contains stem cells that develop into blood cells – both red and white. Bone marrow gives bones their flexibility and strength.

In cooking, bone marrow specifically refers to the fatty interior of bones like femurs and knuckle bones. This can be scooped out and eaten on its own, spread on bread, or used to enrich soups and stews. Beef marrow bones are most prized, but marrow can also come from lamb, pork, and other animals.

Nutritional Profile of Bone Marrow

The nutrition of bone marrow consists almost entirely of fat – around 97% fat by weight. The specific fats include:

  • Saturated fats: Palmitic acid, stearic acid, myristic acid
  • Monounsaturated fats: Oleic acid
  • Polyunsaturated fats: Linoleic acid
  • Omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids

Beyond fat. bone marrow also contains

  • Protein: 1-2 grams per tablespoon
  • Cholesterol: 11-15 mg per tablespoon
  • Vitamin A: 11% DV
  • Vitamin K2
  • Iron: 3-4% DV
  • Zinc
  • Trace amounts of magnesium, potassium, selenium

So while rich in certain vitamins and minerals, the main component is clearly fat

Is Bone Marrow High in Cholesterol?

With almost 100% of its calories coming from fat, bone marrow is inevitably high in cholesterol.

  • One tablespoon of raw beef marrow contains around 15 milligrams cholesterol.
  • Compare that to 85 mg in a 3-ounce serving of beef tenderloin.

Poultry marrow has slightly less:

  • Chicken marrow has 11 mg cholesterol per tablespoon.
  • Turkey marrow has 13 mg cholesterol per tablespoon.

To put this in context, the recommended daily limit for cholesterol is 300 mg. Just 2-3 tablespoons of bone marrow provides 5-10% of your entire day’s cholesterol!

So while small amounts have negligible effects on blood cholesterol, regular large servings could certainly raise levels. Those with high cholesterol or heart disease risk need to moderate intake.

Are the Fats in Bone Marrow Healthy?

Though high in cholesterol, the specific fatty acid profile of bone marrow may offer some benefits:

  • Monounsaturated fats like oleic acid can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol when replacing saturated fats.

  • Omega-9 fats are linked to reduced heart disease risk factors.

  • Conjugated linoleic acid may help lower blood pressure and inflammation.

  • Omega-6 fats are essential, though most people get adequate amounts.

So while the high fat content necessitates cautious consumption, the fat composition of bone marrow appears relatively healthy.

Ways to Reduce Bone Marrow’s Cholesterol Impact

For those concerned about cholesterol, there are some ways to mitigate bone marrow’s effects:

  • Limit portion size – no more than 1-2 tablespoons per serving

  • Balance with vegetables – pair it with veggie sides or in soup

  • Substitute poultry marrow – lower in cholesterol than beef/lamb marrow

  • Use sparingly to flavor – add small amounts to sauce or stew

  • Avoid if high cholesterol runs in your family – be extra cautious with genetic predisposition

With reasonable portions as part of an overall healthy diet, most people can enjoy bone marrow occasionally without significantly impacting cholesterol levels. But those with heart disease risk or high cholesterol should exercise particular care.

Health Benefits Beyond Cholesterol

While its cholesterol content merits consideration, bone marrow does offer some potential wellness benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects – from compounds like glycine and conjugated linoleic acid

  • Immune support – bone marrow contains immune-boosting lymphocytes

  • Joint health – rich in glucosamine and chondroitin for cartilage

  • Skin health – collagen may improve skin hydration and elasticity

  • Weight management – contains the fat-burning hormone adiponectin

These benefits involve consuming bone marrow regularly, so deserve balanced consideration alongside its cholesterol content.

Bottom Line on Bone Marrow and Cholesterol

So is bone marrow unhealthy due to its high cholesterol? Not necessarily. With mindful consumption, most healthy adults can incorporate bone marrow as part of a varied diet.

However, those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood lipids, or family history of hypercholesterolemia should take extra precautions. For these higher risk groups, bone marrow’s cholesterol content likely outweighs any potential benefits.

As with most foods, the key is moderation. An occasional indulgence in 1-2 tablespoons of rich, savory bone marrow is fine for most. But regular large servings could put certain people at risk for elevated LDL cholesterol. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you have concerns about bone marrow’s place in your diet. They can help strike the right balance between enjoying flavorful foods and optimizing your heart health.

Is Bone Broth Good For You? – Dr.Berg’s Opinion


Is bone marrow bad for your cholesterol?

The researchers found that large number of bone marrow stem cells create excessive numbers of white blood cells, which flock to cholesterol deposits on the artery wall, enlarging and inflaming them.

Is beef bone marrow healthy?

Bone marrow is a type of spongy tissue in the center of bones. The bone marrow of animals like cows, lambs, and moose may provide benefits, such as decreasing inflammation and promoting joint health. Bone marrow is an ingredient that has been enjoyed worldwide for thousands of years.

Does beef bone broth raise cholesterol?

Bone broth helps regulate cholesterol levels. It acts to lower the rate of cholesterol in the blood. Not to mention protects the vessels blood vessels by providing them with essential elements. This significantly reduces the risk of stroke.

Are beef marrow bones safe?

You can offer bone marrow dog bones every few days or less. Because beef marrow bones are safe and healthy, it’s okay for your pup to enjoy them often. In between chew sessions, you can freeze them, so they stay fresh for next time.

How many calories are in beef bone marrow?

Bone marrow calories and fat are on the high side, though, so be aware that regular consumption may cause weight gain. A 0.5-ounce serving, or about a tablespoon, of beef bone marrow contains approximately 126 calories. Because beef bone marrow is so high in fat, a serving is smaller than a serving of other common animal-sourced foods like steak.

How much fat is in a tablespoon of beef bone marrow?

One tablespoon of beef bone marrow contains about 13.5 grams of total fat. If you’re considering adding it to your diet, keep in mind that you should limit your total daily fat intake to between 20 and 35 percent of your calories, or about 44 to 77 grams of fat on a 2,000-calorie diet.

Is bone marrow high in cholesterol?

Bone marrow is rich in fat and, therefore, high in cholesterol. The amount of fat depends on the animal, with cattle bones containing the highest cholesterol levels. Enjoy it in moderation if you choose to include bone marrow in your diet. Is Bone Marrow Healthier Than Meat?

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