High Cholesterol Foods

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The following article provides a list of high cholesterol foods below. But before this list, we discuss what is cholesterol, why it is important and the effect of diet on cholesterol.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an organic molecule that is an essential component of many body structures and substances, including fats. Cholesterol is both produced independently by the body and absorbed by the body from foods of animal origins (meats, eggs, butter, cheese).

Why Is It Important?

High Cholesterol Foods

Total blood cholesterol levels and LDL cholesterol levels represent a powerful predictor of increased risk for coronary artery disease. High total cholesterol levels in the blood stream are strongly associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis, a process by which plaque forms on the inner lining of arteries. These plaques may eventually lead to the formation of blood clots that can block life-sustaining blood flow through arteries.

 

Cholesterol and Diet

One of the major factors that affects cholesterol levels is dietary intake of 1) cholesterol and 2) saturated fats (as well as trans fats). (See EMG’s Cholesterol Introduction for an in depth review of cholesterol and non-nutritional factors). Excessive cholesterol in the diet (found in foods from animal sources) can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels. The high cholesterol foods list below provides cholesterol levels for a wide range of common foods.

Therefore, it is prudent to follow the general cholesterol recommendations from the American Heart Association and Dietary Guideline for Americans. (Note that eggs can still be part of a healthy diet under the following guidelines and eating one egg per day is not associated with any increased coronary artery disease risk.1)

Saturated Fats and Trans Fat Role in Cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol is not the only source that increases cholesterol levels in the blood. Consumption of saturated fats and trans fats increases unhealthy LDL cholesterol production by the body and hence total blood cholesterol levels. Worse yet, consumption of saturated fats and trans-fats tends to raise blood cholesterol levels more than consumption of foods high in dietary cholesterol.

In order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels in the blood, it is important to limit the intake of both dietary cholesterol and saturated and trans fats. Replace saturated fats and trans fats with healthier monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, which can actually help lower cholesterol levels. (See How to Lower Cholesterol). The high cholesterol foods list below also provides saturated fat per serving.

AHA Cholesterol Intake Recommendations

The American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended the following daily limits on cholesterol in food. The high cholesterol foods list below provides cholesterol per serving of common foods.

  • If you are healthy, it’s recommended that you limit your dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams (mg) a day.
  • If you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or an elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol level, you should limit your dietary cholesterol to less than 200 mg a day.

Condition

Recommendations

Healthy <300 milligrams (mg) per day
Known cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or elevated LDL levels <200 milligrams (mg) per day 

 

High Cholesterol Foods List

Food (High Cholesterol Foods in Red)

Total Fat (g)

Saturated Fat (g)

Cholesterol (mg)

Dairy Products
Milk (8 oz. Serving Size)
Skim milk

0

0

5

Milk (1% lowfat)

3

2

10

Milk (2% lowfat)

5

3

20

Milk (whole)

8

5

25

Ice Cream ( lowfat milk)

5

3

20

Ice cream (whole milk)

13

8

45

Eggs (1 Egg)
Egg white

0

0

0

Egg with yolk

5

2

185

Yogurt (4 oz. Serving Size)
Plain yogurt (skim milk)

0

0

5

Plain yogurt (lowfat milk)

4

2

15

Plain yogurt (whole milk)

8

5

30

Cheeses (2 oz. serving)
Mozzarella (part skim)

10

6

35

Mozzarella (whole milk)

12

7

45

Swiss

16

10

25

American

12

8

35

Cheddar

12

8

35

 
Fats & Oils (1 Tablespoon)    
Butter

12

7

30

Lard

13

5

15

Margarine

11

2

0

Olive oil

14

2

0

Canola oil

14

1

0

Corn oil

14

2

0

Safflower oil

14

1

0

Sunflower oil

14

1

0

Meats
Beef (6 oz. serving)
Beef tenderloin

15

6

145

Sirloin (broiled)

11

4

105

T-Bone (broiled)

15

5

95

Top round (broiled)

8

3

105

Hamburger (85% lean)

25

10

115

Hot dogs (2)

35

14

65

Pork (6 oz. serving)
Pork tenderloin (roasted)

8

3

135

Pork shoulder (roasted)

24

14

155

Pork rump (roasted)

24

9

165

Bacon (fried)

70

23

185

Sausages (2 links, fried)

45

15

125

Chicken (6 oz. serving)
White meat (no skin)

6

1

140

White meat (skin)

12

4

140

Dark meat (no skin)

18

5

160

Dark meat (skin)

26

7

160

Turkey (6 oz. serving)
White meat (no skin)

6

2

120

White meat (skin)

14

4

120

Dark meat (no skin)

12

4

145

Dark meat (skin)

20

6

150

Lamb (6 oz. serving)
Leg of lamb (roasted)

11

4

150

Lamb loin chop (roasted)

28

11

125

Seafood (6 oz. serving)
Salmon (baked or broiled)

22

4

110

Tuna (baked or broiled)

10

12

80

Halibut (baked or broiled)

5

1

65

Lobster (steamed)

1

0

120

Clams (steamed)

3

0

70

Shrimp (steamed)

4

1

330

Nuts and Seeds (1 oz. serving)
Almonds

14

1

0

Peanuts

11

2

 0
Cashews

14

2

0

Pecans

20

2

0

Pistachio nuts

7

1

0

Walnuts

18

2

0

Flax seeds

12

1

0

Sunflower seeds

7

1

0

Pumpkin Seeds

12

2

0

Sesame Seeds

14

2

0

EMG’s Nutrition Homepage: How to Eat Healthy

External Resources: High Cholesterol Foods List

1. Kritchevsky SB, Kritchevsky D. Egg consumption and coronary heart disease: an epidemiologic overview. J Am Coll Nutr. Oct 2000; 19 (5 Suppl): 549S-555S.