Foods That Are High in Cholesterol

Karen Frazier
bacon and eggs
Best Diets for High Cholesterol

If you have recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol, then you may be looking for a list of high cholesterol foods. Minimizing the amount of high cholesterol foods that you eat is one way to help manage your overall cholesterol profile.

What Is Cholesterol?

According to the American Heart Association, "Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance found among the lipids (fats) in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells."

Cholesterol is, in fact, an important part of a healthy body. It is used in a number of processes. Perhaps most importantly, cholesterol is used to form the membranes of cells. Some cholesterol is necessary in the body for this important process; however, high cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease and heart attack.

What Determines Cholesterol Levels?

There are two major factors that determine cholesterol levels in the body: genetics and dietary intake of high cholesterol foods or foods high in saturated fats. While you can't do much about your genetics, you can limit your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats in order to maintain some control over your overall cholesterol level.

Foods that Increase Cholesterol

As mentioned above, both foods high in saturated fats and foods high in cholesterol can cause an increase in your cholesterol level. Some foods have the distinction of being both high in saturated fat and high in cholesterol. Most doctors recommend that you minimize or eliminate both foods high in cholesterol and foods high in fat in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, talk with your personal health care provider about the best ways to return to and maintain your healthy cholesterol levels.

Foods High in Saturated Fats

The following foods are high in saturated fats, and may adversely affect your overall cholesterol levels:

  • Processed pork products such as bacon and sausage
  • Meats, including beef, lamb and pork
  • Lard
  • Tropical oils like coconut oil and palm oil
  • Full fat dairy products such as whole milk, butter, cream, cheese and sour cream
  • Coconut

If you aren't sure if a food is high in saturated fat, package labels typically break down fat into saturated and unsaturated. Always read labels if you have been told to avoid saturated fats and you are unsure.

High Cholesterol Foods

There are a number of foods that are high in cholesterol. The following foods contain high levels of cholesterol. Measurements shown are per 100 grams, and are approximate.

  • Beef and veal brains each have about 3100 mg of cholesterol.
  • Pork and lamb brains have about 2500 mg of cholesterol.
  • Egg yolks have approximately 1200 to 2300 mg of cholesterol depending on the bird from which the egg came. Essentially, the bigger the egg, the higher the cholesterol.
  • Fish oils have approximately 700 mg of cholesterol
  • Caviar has approximately 600 mg of cholesterol
  • Chicken liver, goose liver and duck liver all have between 500 and 600 mg of cholesterol.
  • Beef and veal kidneys have approximately 700 mg of cholesterol.
  • Beef, lamb and veal liver has approximately 500 mg of cholesterol.
  • Poultry giblets have approximately 450 mg of cholesterol.
  • Chicken liver pate has approximately 400 mg of cholesterol.
  • Poultry gizzards have approximately 350 mg of cholesterol.
  • Turkey giblets have approximately 300 mg of cholesterol.

General Guidelines

Here are some general guidelines for managing your dietary intake of cholesterol.

  • Avoid organ meats. Almost all organ meats from all animals are high in cholesterol.
  • Avoid foods containing tropical oils such as palm oil and coconut oil. These are very high cholesterol oils.
  • Eat foods low in saturated fats. White meat poultry (without the skin) and fish are excellent poultry choices.
  • Avoid large portions of shellfish such as lobster and shrimp, which have moderately high levels of cholesterol. Small portions are the key.
  • Select oils for cooking that are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as olive and canola oils.
  • Avoid foods with high butterfat content, such as butter, heavy cream, full fat dairy and ice cream. Instead, substitute with moderate amounts of low fat dairy.
  • Consider eating foods that have been shown to have an effect on lowering cholesterol. These foods include foods high in soluble fiber such as oatmeal.
  • While it is technically high in cholesterol, fish oil in the form of fatty fish such as salmon has been shown to lower cholesterol.
  • When in doubt, read labels. Cholesterol count is included on the labels of all processed foods. If you are unsure about fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables and meats, there are a number of excellent programs such as Fit Day that can show you the nutrient counts of the foods you eat, including cholesterol counts.
Foods That Are High in Cholesterol