Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates

High Cholesterol Foods and Their Content - Top 100 List - Source USDA Database


Cholesterol is a sterol, a type of fat, which is essential for normal functioning of the body. Examples of cholesterol health benefits include maintainance of integrity of cell membrane of all tissues, synthesis of bile acids in the liver, and synthesis of lipids such as steroid hormones. It is required for the synthesis of hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and aldosterone.

Nonetheless, when its level in blood, especially that of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, rises beyond the normal range it causes health complications, including coronary heart disease. One of the causes of high serum cholesterol is intake of foods high in cholesterol. Therefore, one approach to acheive and maintain normal, healthy, serum cholesterol level is to avoid or reduce intake of high cholesterol foods. It should be noted, however, that the same foods with high cholesterol levels are also good sources of other essential nutrients such as protein, fatty acids, amino acids, macro- and micro-nutrients.

Not only are these nutrients required for healthy life but they also help in lowering the rate of increase of serum cholesterol concentration in response to the cholesterol in foods. Several studies have demonstrated that diets high in phytosterol (cholesterol-like chemicals found in plants), low in saturated fat and/or high in polyunsaturated fat reduce the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood due to dietary sources. Hence, management of serum cholesterol level needs to be part of a healthy holistic diet regimen.

Is Dietary Cholesterol Required?

Human body is capable of meeting its cholesterol requirements by synthesizing cholesterol indigenously. As such, there is no requirement for cholesterol from dietary sources. For the same reason, there is no Adequate Intake (AI) or Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) set for cholesterol, for humans of any age.

According to the USDA Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII, 1994-1996, 1998), on average, an American adult man and woman consume 265 - 345 and 190 - 280 mg of dietary cholesterol per day, respectively. On average, an increase of dietary cholesterol intake by 100 mg per day is predicted to increase total serum cholesterol concentration by 0.05 to 0.1 mmol/L, 80 per cent of that increase being in LDL ("bad") cholesterol and the other 20% in HDL ("good") cholesterol. The effect of dietary cholesterol on increasing serum cholesterol varies from person to person. Some people have high efficiency, upto 80%, in absorbing cholesterol from their ingested diet, whereas others have lower efficiency (as low as 20%). In most people, however, 40 - 60% of the cholesterol in their diet ends up in their blood stream.

What Foods are High in Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a constituent of all animal tissues, therefore, foods of animal origin contain dietary cholesterol. How much cholesterol there is in a food product is determined by the animal type and the body part of the animal the meat comes from. Forexample, brain contains higher cholesterol content than all meat-products from other body parts.

In the following tables are lists of cholesterol food sources and their corresponding cholesterol content (in mg per 100 g of edible food portion). What the lists represent is the top 100 foods highest in cholesterol content from more than 7500 food items common in North American diet. The high cholesterol foods list is extracted from the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory.

Table 1: List of top 100 common foods with the highest cholesterol content.

RankCholesterol food sourcesCholesterol content (mg/ 100 g edible food portion)
1 Beef, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, simmered 3100.00
2 Veal, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, braised 3100.00
3 Beef, variety meats and by-products, brain, raw 3010.00
4 Pork, fresh, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, braised 2552.00
5 Lamb, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, pan-fried 2504.00
6 Egg, yolk, dried 2335.00
7 Pork, fresh, variety meats and by-products, brain, raw 2195.00
8 Veal, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, pan-fried 2120.00
9 Lamb, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, braised 2043.00
10 Egg, whole, dried, stabilized, glucose reduced 2017.00
11 Beef, variety meats and by-products, brain, cooked, pan-fried 1995.00
12 Egg, whole, dried 1715.00
13 Veal, variety meats and by-products, brain, raw 1590.00
14 Lamb, variety meats and by-products, brain, raw 1352.00
15 Egg, yolk, raw, fresh 1234.00
16 Egg, yolk, raw, frozen 1075.00
17 Egg, yolk, raw, frozen, sugared 959.00
18 Egg, yolk, raw, frozen, salted 955.00
19 Egg, turkey, whole, fresh, raw 933.00
20 Egg, duck, whole, fresh, raw 884.00





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