High cholesterol foods: The best and worst options

9 foods that are high in cholesterol — and why cholesterol isn’t as dangerous as we used to believe

Cholesterol used to be the villain when it came to heart disease. But research indicates that it’s not cholesterol that’s the culprit.

In fact, there are many high cholesterol foods like eggs and lobster that are perfectly healthy to eat on the regular.

What you need to watch out for is foods high in saturated or trans fats, as these have been shown to boost the level of LDL cholesterol — aka “bad cholesterol” — in your blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

To help you navigate the grocery aisle, here’s nine high cholesterol food groups and how to tell if they’re healthy or should be avoided.

1. Red meat

Red meat, including beef, lamb, venison, and mutton, can have high levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.

For example, a 4 oz serving of ground beef made of 80% lean meat has 80.2 mg of cholesterol and nearly 8 grams of saturated fat.

You don’t have to swear off red meat entirely since it can provide key nutrients like iron and zinc. Just try to limit it to no more than 70 grams per day and stick to whole meat, like steak, over-processed meat, like bacon.

2. Eggs

One whole egg contains about 207 mg of cholesterol but only 1.61 grams of saturated fat — all of which is in the egg’s yolk.

“Eggs should be consumed whole, as the yolk also contains important nutrients like vitamin D,” says Paula Doebrich, RDN, founder of private nutrition practice  Happea Nutrition.

Moreover, egg yolks are naturally high in HDL cholesterol, the “good” kind of cholesterol that transports LDLout of your body.

The American Heart Association suggests that it is healthy to eat one egg or two egg whites per day as part of a balanced diet.

3. Processed meat

Processed meats like sausages, bacon, and hot dogs are all high cholesterol foods that are also high in saturated fat.

For example, three strips of pan-fried bacon have 27 mg of cholesterol and 3.3 g saturated fat, and one pan-fried Italian sausage link packs 69.3 mg of cholesterol and 7.92 g saturated fat.

“If you can’t imagine life without bacon, try turkey or Canadian bacon which are lower in saturated fat,” Doebrich says.

Three strips of turkey bacon have 1.95 g saturated fat, about 40% less than regular bacon.

4. Dairy products

Cholesterol and saturated fat are found in dairy products including cheese, butter, cream, ice cream, and whole fat milk.

One cup of cheddar cheese has 105 mg of cholesterol and 20 g of saturated fat, while one tablespoon of butter contains about 31 mg of cholesterol and 7 g of saturated fat

Certain full-fat dairy products like cheese are far from all bad because they also contain protein, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats.

Meanwhile, fermented dairy products like yogurt are loaded with probiotics that can benefit your gut health.

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