For a few unfortunate people, choline has a dark side. An inborn error of metabolism, trimethylaminurea, causes them to smell like rotting fish when they eat high-choline foods.

Sara D. Brown
Clinton, N.J.

Good point. New labeling that identifies foods rich in choline should help people with trimethylaminurea avoid those foods. –J. Raloff As a reader concerned about my cholesterol and fat intake, I was ready to throw away my container of egg substitute and buy a dozen eggs when I read the article. Then, I came to the third sentence of the next-to-last paragraph: “. . . a tall glass of skim milk offers as much choline as an egg does.” So, I poured myself a glass of cold skimmed milk (and had a cookie).

Doris E. Gennaro
Gainesville, Fla.

The tabulation of choline content leaves one with the mistaken impression that only eggs and liver are choline rich. While soy lecithin is mentioned in passing as a manufacturing additive, soy is otherwise neglected in the text and chart. The CRC Handbook of World Food Legumes: Nutritional Chemistry, Processing Technology and Utilization (1989, D. Salunkhe, CRC Press) lists a value of 3.4 milligrams of choline per gram of soybean seeds. That’s 289 mg of choline for an 85-g (3-oz) serving. Lentils contain 2.23 mg/g, or 200 mg per serving. Both values are comparable to the choline content of an egg. Considering that soy in the form of tofu, tempeh, or boiled beans comes free of cholesterol and rich in healthful compounds, concern for vegan health seems spurious, as does the market-driven notion of eggs as the perfect food.

John M. Vinopal
Berkeley, Calif.

The need for choline is certainly bolstered by recent studies. But nearly 50 years ago, nutrition maven Adelle Davis touted choline’s merits. Though vilified by many in medicine and food production, her whole-food philosophy made sense to some of us. We sidestepped the anticholesterol bandwagon. Result at 61 years old: blood pressure, 110/70; HDLs, 77; triglycerides, 53. Thanks to all the brain food, we won’t soon forget Davis.

David Rawlins
Pauma Valley, Calif.