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What Is the Cholesterol Content of Fish & Shellfish?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
What Is the Cholesterol Content of Fish & Shellfish?
Close up of steamed lobster on plate. Photo Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

You might be a little confused when you hear that you need to eat more seafood to improve heart health, because you've also heard that shrimp is high in cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, you need to limit your intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 200 milligrams a day. While fish and shellfish are low in fat, some varieties of shellfish contain high amounts of cholesterol. Knowing the cholesterol content of different types of fish and shellfish can help you determine how they fit into your diet.

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Cholesterol Content in Heart-Healthy Oily Fish

Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and including more of these fish in your diet may help lower your risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends everyone eat two servings of these fish each week. However, some types of oily fish are also high in cholesterol. A fillet of cooked herring contains 143 milligrams of cholesterol. Atlantic mackerel is a healthier choice with 78 milligrams in a fillet. The cholesterol in salmon varies, depending on the type. For example, coho salmon has 90 milligrams of cholesterol in a fillet, while a 3-ounce portion of chinook has 72 milligrams.

White Fish May Be Leaner But It Still Has Cholesterol

The cholesterol content in white fish, which includes catfish, haddock and flounder varies. For example, a fillet of wild catfish contains 103 milligrams of cholesterol, and a fillet of flounder has 71 milligrams. Rainbow trout has 99 milligrams of cholesterol in a fillet, while New York State brook trout has 89 milligrams. If you're looking for a low-cholesterol white fish, consider whiting, which has 60 milligrams of cholesterol in a fillet.

Cholesterol and Crustaceans

When it comes to cholesterol, crustaceans, such as shrimp and lobster, have it. However, you might want to talk to your doctor first before completely cutting them out of your diet. It's the saturated fat in food that raises blood cholesterol levels, not so much the dietary cholesterol, and crustaceans are low in fat and saturated fat. Northern lobster contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol per 1-cup serving. Steamed or boiled shrimp has 179 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving. Three ounces of cooked crayfish has 116 milligrams, while 1 cup of cooked blue crab has 114 milligrams. Dungeness crab is a good choice with 65 milligrams of cholesterol in a 3-ounce portion.

Mollusks: Some High and Some Low

Cholesterol content in mollusks, which includes clams and oysters, also varies. Cuttlefish has the highest amount of cholesterol with 190 milligrams in a 3-ounce portion. Three ounces of cooked clams has one of the lowest with 57 milligrams of cholesterol. Wild eastern oysters make a good choice with 67 milligrams per 3-ounce portion. If you like octopus, 3 ounces contains 82 milligrams of cholesterol.

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