7 High-Cholesterol Foods- Should You Eat Or Avoid Them?
Cholesterol is probably one of the most misunderstood substances.
For decades, people have avoided healthy, cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, fearing that these foods increase the risk of heart disease.
However, recent studies have shown that for most people, eating healthy foods high in cholesterol is not harmful to their health.
In addition, some cholesterol-rich foods are rich in important nutrients that many people are deficient in.
This article explains why you shouldn’t be afraid of cholesterol in food and lists healthy foods high in cholesterol and foods to avoid.
What is cholesterol and is it unhealthy?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the body in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy products.
It plays an important role in the production of hormones, vitamin D and the bile needed to digest fats.
Cholesterol provides strength and elasticity to cell membranes and is an essential component of every cell in the body.
The liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs to function, but cholesterol can also be introduced by eating animal products.
Because cholesterol does not mix well with fluid (blood), it is carried by particles called lipoproteins, which include LDL and HDL – or low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein.
HDL (“good cholesterol”) helps remove excess cholesterol from the body, while LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol” because it is associated with plaque buildup in the arteries.
When too much cholesterol is consumed, the body compensates by reducing the amount of cholesterol that is naturally produced.
Conversely, when dietary cholesterol intake is low, the body increases cholesterol production to ensure that there is always enough of this important substance.
Only about 25% of the cholesterol in the body comes from the diet. The rest is produced by the liver.
Is dietary cholesterol bad for you?
Studies have shown that dietary cholesterol does not have a significant effect on cholesterol levels in the body, and data from population studies do not support a link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease in the general population.
Dietary cholesterol may have some effect on cholesterol levels, but for most people, this is not a problem.
In fact, two-thirds of the world’s population has little to no increase in cholesterol levels after eating cholesterol-rich foods.
The few people who are considered gratuitous or high cholesterol eaters are likely to be on a high cholesterol diet.
However, hyperreactive substances are thought to return excess cholesterol to the liver for excretion.
Dietary cholesterol also has a positive effect on the LDL-HDL ratio, which is considered to be the best indicator of heart disease risk.
While research shows that for most people there is no need to avoid cholesterol in the diet, it is important to remember that not all foods that contain cholesterol are healthy.
Here are 7 foods that are healthy and high in cholesterol – and 4 to avoid
Healthy foods high in cholesterol
Here are seven cholesterol-rich foods that are extremely nutritious
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods. They are also high in cholesterol, with one large egg containing 211 mg of cholesterol, or 70% of the RDI.
Many people avoid eggs for fear that their cholesterol will spike. However, studies have shown that eggs do not negatively affect cholesterol levels and that eating whole eggs can lead to an increase in heart-protective HDL.
In addition to being high in cholesterol, eggs are also rich in beneficial nutrients such as B vitamins, selenium and vitamin A. They are a good source of highly absorbable protein.
Studies have shown that it is perfectly fine for healthy people to eat one to three eggs per day.
One ounce (28 grams) of cheese provides 27 mg of cholesterol, or about 9% of the RDI.
Cheese is often associated with elevated cholesterol levels, but several studies have shown that whole cheese does not negatively affect cholesterol levels.
A 12-week study of 162 people found that consuming large amounts of full-fat cheese – 80 grams or about 3 ounces per day – did not increase “bad” LDL cholesterol compared to the amount of low-fat cheese or the number of calories in bread and jam.
Different types of cheese contain different amounts of nutrients, but most are good sources of calcium, protein, B vitamins and vitamin A.
Cheese is high in calories, so portion control is important, with one to two ounces per serving recommended.
Shellfish such as clams, crabs and shrimp are an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron and selenium.
They are also high in cholesterol. For example, an 85-gram serving of shrimp provides 166 mg of cholesterol, or more than 50% of the RDI.
In addition, shellfish contain bioactive components such as carotenoid antioxidants and the amino acid taurine, which can help prevent heart disease and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
People who eat more seafood have a lower incidence of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
- Grass-fed steak
Pasture-raised steak is rich in protein and contains important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12, zinc, selenium and iron.
It is lower in cholesterol than farm-raised beef and is higher in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
A 4-ounce (112-gram) serving of grass-fed steak contains about 62 mg of cholesterol, or 20 percent of the RDI.
Processed meats are clearly associated with heart disease, but several large population studies have found no association between red meat consumption and heart disease risk.
- Organ meats
Cholesterol-rich organs-such as the heart, kidneys and liver-are extremely nutritious.
For example, the heart of chicken is rich in vitamin B12, iron and zinc, as well as the powerful antioxidant CoQ10.
It is also high in cholesterol, with 56 grams providing 105 mg of cholesterol, or 36% of the RDI.
A study of more than 9,000 Korean adults found that those who consumed moderate amounts of unprocessed meat (including offal) had a lower risk of heart disease than those who consumed less.
Sardines are not only nutritious, but they are a delicious and convenient source of protein that can be added to a variety of dishes.
A small 3.75-ounce (92-gram) fish contains 131 mg of cholesterol or 44% of the RDI, 63% of the RDI for vitamin D, 137% of the RDI for B12, and 35% of the RDI for calcium.
Sardines are also a rich source of iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, magnesium and vitamin E.
- Whole wheat yogurt
Whole yogurt is a cholesterol-rich food that contains protein, calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium and other nutrients.
One cup (245 g) of whole yogurt contains 31.9 mg of cholesterol, which is equivalent to 11% of the RDI.
Recent studies have linked increased intake of whole fermented dairy products to a lower risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes, as well as lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
Yogurt and other fermented dairy products also have a positive impact on intestinal health, positively affecting the bacteria in the gut.