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Foods High In Cholesterol – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Updated on February 20, 2016

If you have only just started researching foods high in cholesterol then you may not be aware that there are actually two types of cholesterol, a good kind and a bad kind. The good kind (HDL Cholesterol) is present in the blood stream and it helps to keep the detrimental health effects of bad cholesterol at bay. The bad kind however (LDL cholesterol) - which we take in through our diet - can cause a whole host of problems within the human body if it is allowed to overwhelm the good cholesterol.

Don’t worry, this article isn’t intended to be a science lesson. I just thought it was important that when we consider foods that are high in cholesterol we highlight not just the bad ones but also the good ones, this way we can then win the war against cholesterol from both sides.

Rather than create just a boring list of 10 or so foods high in cholesterol, I thought we could add a little bit of fun by taking them in stages. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Foods High In Cholesterol – The Good

It’s important to clarify here that we don’t intake good cholesterol (HDL) through our diet, it is only present in the blood. Certain foods and drinks however have been shown to boost the level of HDL cholesterol within the blood and also doing so within a relatively short period of time, let’s consider a few of these foods.

Orange Juice

One study suggested that drinking 3 cups of pure orange juice a day could raise HDL Cholesterol levels within the blood by 21% over a 3 week period. It is unknown at this point exactly how orange juice does this but many experts believe that it is related to the high levels of antioxidants which certain fruits and vegetables contain. Adding 3 cups of Orange Juice to the diet may not sit well with everyone’s digestive system though. so you may want to start slow and see how your system reacts to any increased intake of this highly acidic fruit.

Dark Chocolate

So foods that are good for you can taste good? Another recent study showed that volunteers who ate 3 and a half ounces of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) each day for a week were able to raise their HDL cholesterol levels by 9%. That's an awful lot of chocolate though so if you want to feel the benefits while still protecting your waistline then you may want to lower those quantities.

Which foods have you cut back on?

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Foods High In Cholesterol – The Bad

I’m sure this is the section you are most interested in so we’ll include a few more foods here. Before we start though, here’s one more little fact for you. Did you know that your body actually needs cholesterol? In fact it makes it and without it we would be dead. The human body has the ability to make all of the cholesterol it needs but it is our diet that messes with the cholesterol balance and causes problems. This is why it can be beneficial to cut down on the levels of bad cholesterol we intake through high cholesterol foods like the ones listed below.

Processed meats

Processed meats such as sausages often have an enormous amount of bad fat added during the manufacturing process. When digested, these fats can drastically raise bad cholesterol levels within the bloodstream. Other meats such as duck and lamb are also known to contain high amounts of bad cholesterol.

Cheese

Although cheese is a great source of protein and contains important minerals such as calcium, it is also high in cholesterol. At 123mg (41% DV) per 100 gram serving Port de Salut contains the most cholesterol. Fontina, Cream Cheese, Gouda and Cheddar are also ones to avoid.

Oily Fish

You may have been convinced over the years that oily fish is good for you and it's true, in the right quantities it is. Still, oily fish does contain high levels of cholesterol so you may want to consider limiting your intake if you are trying to lower cholesterol levels.

Fast Food

I’m guessing you will already know about this one so I won’t bore you with too many facts. Basically if you want to lower your cholesterol levels then you will want to avoid fast food restaurants completely. Even McDonald's Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken contains 70mg of cholesterol, which equates to 23% of your recommended daily intake.

Remember

  • Increase foods that help build good cholesterol like Dark Chocolate, Fruits and vegetables
  • Cut back on foods which are high in cholesterol like egg yolk, butter, processed meat and all fast food
  • A moderate but sustained approach is best unless you have been advised to take drastic action from a medical professional

Foods High In Cholesterol – The Ugly

Now let’s move on to some of the ugly cholesterol culprits, the ones you really want to keep your eye on.

Butter

Similar to cheese, butter - as a dairy product- is naturally high in cholesterol. At least with cheese though you will usually have a good idea of when you’re eating it. Butter however is hidden in so many different things like cakes, cookies, biscuits and sauces that we may often not be conscious of the fact that we are eating it. On top of this we then put it on our bread and smother it over our vegetables, often making a healthy meal not so healthy after all. Just one tablespoon of butter contains a whopping 10% (or 30mg) of your recommended daily intake of cholesterol so try to remember that the next time you're melting it on your corn or having that extra slice of cake.

Caviar

If you have a taste for the finer things in life and are partial to a spot of caviar then after reading this you may want to cheapen your taste a little. Just 100 grams of caviar provides almost 200% of your daily allowance of cholesterol. That’s equal to around 30% in a single tablespoon!

Egg Yolk

Probably the most well-known high cholesterol food on our list is the egg yolk and it has gained its reputation for a reason. A single egg yolk contains around 70% of your recommended daily cholesterol intake or 210mg if you prefer that number. Something to bear in mind before you head down the Rocky Balboa route and start necking raw eggs before your morning run.

Are there any other high cholesterol foods you feel should be on this list?

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    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I admit, I wasn't too concerned about caviar but thanks for the info on oily fish. I probably do consume more than the recommended amount (maybe that's why I'm so slippery :-) Thanks again; Voted up and awesome

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