If you have high cholesterol, you have an increased risk for developing heart disease, the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. You get cholesterol from the foods you eat, and your body also produces some cholesterol. Avoid the foods that are highest in cholesterol to help keep your cholesterol low. Cholesterol is found in foods of animal origin. There is no cholesterol in vegetables, fruits or grains unless animal products are added to them (like oatmeal with butter or fruit salad with whipped cream).
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Animal brains are considered a delicacy by some people. Because the brain is composed primarily of fat and cholesterol, it is not surprising that this delicacy has a very high cholesterol content. This includes beef, veal, pork and lamb brains, which range from 3,100 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving for beef brains, to 1352 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving for lamb brains.
In the eggs of chickens, turkeys, quail, geese and ducks, cholesterol is found in the yolk. Dried chicken egg yolk contains 2335 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Whole eggs are slightly lower in cholesterol because of the added volume of the egg white. Egg whites are cholesterol-free. However, you also lose much of the nutritional content of the egg if you do not eat the yolk. Egg substitute powder contains 572 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Whole eggs prepared by frying contain 547 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving, and whole frozen eggs contain 432 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving.
Liver and kidneys contain high amounts of cholesterol. Braised veal kidneys contain 791 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Simmered beef kidneys contain 716 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Chicken liver contains 563 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Foods made from liver, such as pate, liver sausage and foie gras, are also high in cholesterol. Other organ and variety meats, including the spleen, giblets and pancreas, are high in cholesterol.
Fish and Fish Products
Fish oil and caviar are high in cholesterol. Herring oil contains 766 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. Caviar contains, on average, 588 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving. A 100-gram portion of shrimp, prawns or camarones contains 195 milligrams of cholesterol. Fish products packed in oil may also be high in cholesterol.
Milk and Dairy Products
A 100-gram portion of butter contains 215 milligrams of cholesterol. Cheeses are generally high in cholesterol, including Port de Salut, fontina, cream cheese, gouda, gruyere and cheddar.
Many fast foods, especially breakfasts products containing eggs, are high in cholesterol. Fast foods many also contain unhealthy fat and excessive amounts of sodium.
When fat is added during the processing of luncheon meats, it increases the cholesterol content. To determine the exact cholesterol content, check the manufacturer's nutritional labeling. If you are purchasing meats at a deli counter, the staff should be more than happy to show you the nutrition label.
Bivalve shellfish such as oysters, mollusks and clams are relatively high in cholesterol. Wild Eastern oysters contain 105 milligrams of cholesterol per 100-gram serving.