1–7. Healthy Foods That Are High in Cholesterol

Here are 7 high-cholesterol foods that are incredibly nutritious.

1. Eggs

Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They also happen to be high in cholesterol, with one large egg delivering 211 mg of cholesterol, or 70% of the RDI (11).

People often avoid eggs out of fear that they may cause cholesterol to skyrocket. However, research shows that eggs don’t negatively impact cholesterol levels and that eating whole eggs can lead to increases in heart-protective HDL (12).

Aside from being rich in cholesterol, eggs are an excellent source of highly absorbable protein and loaded with beneficial nutrients like B vitamins, selenium and vitamin A (13).

Research has shown that eating 1–3 eggs per day is perfectly safe for healthy people (1415).

2. Cheese

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of cheese provides 27 mg of cholesterol, or about 9% of the RDI (16).

Although cheese is often associated with increased cholesterol, several studies have shown that full-fat cheese does not negatively impact cholesterol levels.

One 12-week study in 162 people found that a high intake of 80 grams or about 3 ounces of full-fat cheese per day did not raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, compared to the same amount of low-fat cheese or the equal number of calories from bread and jam (17).

Different types of cheese vary in nutritional content, but most cheeses provide a good amount of calcium, protein, B vitamins and vitamin A (1819).

Since cheese is high in calories, stick to the recommended serving size of 1–2 ounces at a time to keep portions in check.

3. Shellfish

Shellfish — including clams, crab and shrimp — are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron and selenium (2021).

They’re also high in cholesterol. For example, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of shrimp provides 166 mg of cholesterol — which is over 50% of the RDI (22).

Additionally, shellfish contain bioactive components — such as carotenoid antioxidants and the amino acid taurine — that help prevent heart disease and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol (2324).

Populations that consume more seafood have demonstratively lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and inflammatory diseases like arthritis (25).

4. Pasture-Raised Steak

Pasture-raised steak is packed with protein, as well as important vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, zinc, selenium and iron (26).

It’s lower in cholesterol than feedlot beef and contains significantly more omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties (2728).

A 4-ounce (112-gram) serving of pasture-raised steak packs about 62 mg of cholesterol, or 20% of the RDI (29).

Though processed meat has a clear association with heart disease, several large population studies have found no association between red meat intake and heart disease risk (3031).

5. Organ Meats

Cholesterol-rich organ meats — such as heart, kidney and liver — are highly nutritious.

For example, chicken heart is an excellent source of the powerful antioxidant CoQ10, as well as vitamin B12, iron and zinc.

It’s also high in cholesterol, with a 2-ounce (56-gram) serving providing 105 mg of cholesterol, or 36% of the RDI (32).

One study in over 9,000 Korean adults found that those with a moderate intake of unprocessed meat — including organ meats — had a lower risk of developing heart disease than those with the lowest consumption (33).

6. Sardines

Sardines are not only loaded with nutrients but also a tasty and convenient protein source that can be added to a wide variety of dishes.

One 3.75-ounce (92-gram) serving of these tiny fish contains 131 mg of cholesterol, or 44% of the RDI, but it also packs 63% of the RDI for vitamin D, 137% of the RDI for B12 and 35% of the RDI for calcium (34).

What’s more, sardines are an excellent source of iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium and vitamin E.

7. Full-Fat Yogurt

Full-fat yogurt is a cholesterol-rich food packed with nutrients like protein, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium.

One cup (245 grams) of full-fat yogurt contains 31.9 mg of cholesterol, or 11% of the RDI (35).

Recent research shows that increased consumption of full-fat fermented dairy products is associated with reductions in “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as lower risks of stroke, heart disease and diabetes (36).

Plus, fermented dairy products like yogurt benefit intestinal health by positively impacting friendly gut bacteria (37).

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