High cholesterol food

Some foods contain cholesterol, but surprisingly they don’t make a big difference to the cholesterol in your blood. 

That's because most of us eat less than 300mg of cholesterol per day – a small amount compared to the amount of saturated fat we eat.

Cholesterol is made mainly in the liver. But it’s also found in animal foods such as eggs, shellfish, meat and dairy products.

 

Do I need to cut down on dietary cholesterol?

Most people don’t need to cut down on the cholesterol that’s found in foods- so you can still enjoy eggs and shellfish.

It’s much more important to cut down on foods which contain saturated fats. That’s because saturated fats affect how the liver handles cholesterol. So, eating saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol. Try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats which are better for your heart.

For some people - those with FH, those who have high cholesterol, and those who are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease - the recommendation is to limit cholesterol in food to no more than 300mg a day. In the case of FH ideally less than 200 mg a day. Even though dietary cholesterol only has a small effect on blood cholesterol, people with high cholesterol and FH already have high levels of blood cholesterol, so it seems sensible not to eat too much cholesterol in food.

 

Which foods are high in cholesterol?

All animal foods contain some cholesterol. But by cutting down on the animal foods that contain saturated fats you will be keeping the cholesterol in your diet in check too.

Foods that contain cholesterol and are high in saturated fat.

Full fat dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cream.

Animal fats, such as butter, ghee, margarines and spreads made from animal fats, lard, suet and dripping.

Fatty meat and processed meat products such as sausages.

 

There are some foods which are low in saturated fat but high in cholesterol. These include eggs, some shellfish, liver, liver pate and offal. Most people don’t need to cut down on the cholesterol that’s found in these foods.

Foods that contain cholesterol but are low in saturated fat.

Lean meat, especially offal, such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, heart and tripe  

Prawns, crab, lobster, squid, octopus and cuttlefish.

Eggs (the cholesterol is in the yolk).  

For people with FH, or who have high cholesterol, or are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease, you can still eat some of these foods, but you need to be more careful about how often you eat them to ensure you’re keeping within the guidelines. For example, you could eat three or four eggs a week, and shellfish such as prawns up to once or twice a week.

You should avoid liver and offal altogether because they are very rich sources of cholesterol.

The table below shows the amount of cholesterol in these types of foods:-

Food

Cholesterol (mg)

Per Portion

Eggs

·         1 very large

·         1 large

·         1 medium

·         1 small

 

256mg

240mg

200mg

185mg

Liver

·         Lamb, raw (100g)

·         Calf, raw (100g)

·         Chicken, raw (100g)

·         Pig, raw (100g)

 

430mg

370mg

380mg

260mg

Liver Pate (40g)

68mg

Kidney

·         Pig, raw (100g)

·         Lamb, raw (100g)

 

410mg

315mg

Heart

·         1 Lamb’s heart, raw (191g)

·         1 Pig’s heart, raw (266g)

 

267mg

210mg

Shellfish

·         Prawns, raw (140g)

·         Canned crab in brine (100g)

·         Fresh crab meat, cooked (100g)

·         Half a cooked lobster (250g)

 

210mg

72mg

169mg

275mg

 

Some shellfish such as cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops and clams are all low in cholesterol and in saturated fat and you can eat them as often as you like.

A word about eating liver

Liver is a lean meat which is high in cholesterol. It’s low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and vitamins A, B and D.

It’s generally a very healthy food to eat, but it’s so high in vitamin A that it’s best not to eat too much of it. For some people, eating liver often could mean that vitamin A builds up in the body, causing health problems.

The government recommends eating no more than one portion per week of liver or liver pate. If you do eat liver, avoid any supplements that also contain vitamin A in the form of retinol.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, avoid liver, liver pate and supplements which contain retinol completely.

Women who have been through the menopause should limit liver to no more than once a week.

Foods which don’t contain cholesterol

Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals, there is no cholesterol in foods that come from plants. So, there is no cholesterol in fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas and lentils.

 
More low cholesterol foods