A list of the richest foods in cholesterol.

Common foods naturally high in cholesterol are egg, meat, milk & dairy, as well as meat organs.

What’s cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty molecule. It’s found in body tissues and circulated in the blood. 

We don’t have to eat foods with cholesterol. Our bodies can produce more than enough. Most cholesterol is produced by the liver. It’s stored in adipose tissue and the liver.[1]

Why are normal cholesterol levels necessary for health?

Cholesterol is necessary for the proper function of the body. It’s found in the walls of cells and plays a key role in the function of the nervous system. In fact, the brain is the most cholesterol-rich organ, both in humans and animals.[2]

Furthermore, the body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, hormones, bile acids, vitamin D, and many more substances!

Cholesterol deficiency is rare. In contrast, modern diets high in animal-based foods promote high cholesterol levels, causing serious adverse effects.

Too much cholesterol in the blood is dangerous

Cholesterol circulates in the blood. It’s attached to specific protein molecules, known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is bad because it carries cholesterol to tissues. On the other hand, HDL is good because it carries cholesterol from tissues to the liver, where it gets degraded.

High cholesterol levels in the blood increase the risk of atherosclerosis, coronary arterial disease, and stroke. Cholesterol gets trapped in arterial walls, building up plaque over time! Plaque narrows blood vessels and makes them less flexible.

Does eating foods high in cholesterol affect cholesterol levels in the body?

According to many studies, a high cholesterol diet has been associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality from cardiovascular diseases!

It seems that dietary cholesterol has a small effect on blood cholesterol, though. In fact, there hasn’t been established an official upper safe dose of cholesterol.

Excessive consumption of saturated fatty acids is far more important for increased cholesterol levels. Especially, for increasing the dangerous LDL-cholesterol.

Certainly, people with high levels of blood cholesterol better avoid consuming foods high in cholesterol. After all, foods high in cholesterol are particularly high in saturated fats as well.

Besides eating habits, genetics, age, and sex play a key role in cholesterol levels. Also, sedentary life, smoking, alcohol abuse, and obesity are risk factors for developing high cholesterol.

Keep in mind that the building of plaque in arteries begins in early childhood! So, parents should encourage children to eat healthy and be active. Kids who follow a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole-grains, and beans are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease as adults.

Common foods naturally high in cholesterol

The most common foods high in cholesterol are egg yolk, shrimp, beef, bacon, pork, poultry, cheese and butter.[3]

(mg) per serving
saturated fat
(g) per serving
kidney, beef8501
egg, duck6192.6
egg, goose6152.6
liver, turkey5512
liver, chicken4791.7
liver, beef3242.1
cheese, ricotta314.5
milk (whole)304.6
cheddar cheese286
milk (low fat)203
Foods rich in cholesterol.[4]

Regular consumption of meat, either red or white, can significantly raise blood cholesterol levels. In general, if you have elevated blood cholesterol, you should avoid consuming foods high in cholesterol, such as fatty meats and high-fat dairy products. They’re high in saturated fats as well.

Eating high amounts of saturated fats is a key reason for high LDL-cholesterol levels, as well as increased risk of heart disease and stroke! Thus, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 13 g of saturated fatty acids a day.[5]

In contrast, plant-based foods contain no cholesterol. Actually, following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, seeds, nuts, and beans could help maintain normal cholesterol levels!

Other foods to avoid for normal cholesterol levels

Most noteworthy, the excessive consumption of trans fat raises LDL-cholesterol and lower the good HDL-cholesterol, significantly increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.[6]

Small quantities of trans fats are naturally present in milk and meat products. But, we get large amounts of artificial trans fats from highly processed foods, and deep-fried fast foods. Actually, every time you eat pizza, cake, pie, biscuits, cookies, or crackers you probably consume dangerous trans fat as well.

Keep in mind that food companies don’t have to list trans fats, if their product contains less than 0.5 g per serving!

But, even cooking with healthy vegetable oils may raise cholesterol levels. High temperatures may induce thermo-oxidation of cholesterol, forming cholesterol oxidation products!

You better add lots of aromatic herbs to your recipes. Herbs are particularly high in antioxidants. Actually, the use of common herbs, such as parsley and chives, can reduce the formation of these cholesterol oxidation products.[7]

Reduction of total fat intake isn’t necessary. In fact, it’s highly recommended to replace trans fat and saturated with mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are mainly found in seeds, nuts, avocado, and healthy vegetable oils like olive oil. 


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