Top 10 Foods High in Cholesterol

Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is a healthy nutrient that helps repair the body’s cells. Surprising news confirms that dietary cholesterol (the kind you eat) doesn’t cause coronary heart disease, and eliminating cholesterol-rich foods, such as eggs and shellfish, isn’t the answer to improving your cholesterol.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, American Heart Association and others are now re-thinking their restrictions on dietary cholesterol.

If you still want to reduce the amount of cholesterol you eat, the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference provides a listing of foods that contain cholesterol, ranking them by their cholesterol content based on a common household measure of the food. Other lists rank cholesterol content based on serving sizes in grams, which may not be as accurate for your diet needs.

Chicken with Innards

One cup of “chicken, broilers or fryers, giblets, cooked, simmered” contains 641 mg of cholesterol. Reduce cholesterol by using chicken breast meat and taking the skin off before cooking.

Turkey and Giblets

A cup of turkey with giblets and some giblet fat contains 419 mg of cholesterol. Dietitians often recommend low-fat turkey, from the breast, as an alternative to beef, including ground beef, with ground turkey suggested as for meatballs and burgers. Check nutrition labels to see how much cholesterol the turkey contains before you buy.

Don’t rule out tukey as a healthy food, though. Buy ground turkey breast meat (make sure it’s from the breast) and use a delicious, healthier substitute for ground beef for burgers, tacos and spaghetti sauce.


The USDA ranks a 3-oz. serving of “beef, variety meats and by-products, liver, cooked, pan-fried,” third in terms of cholesterol content, with 324 mg of
cholesterol. Less-expensive cuts of beef contain less saturated fat and cholesterol. For example, the USDA lists “beef, round, bottom round, steak, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 1/8-inch fat, all grades, cooked, braised,” as having 85 mg of cholesterol in a 3 oz.-serving. Check out our ideas for choosing healthier beef cuts.

Sausage and Egg Biscuit

A biscuit with egg and sausage has 290 mg of cholesterol per serving. Consider a breakfast sandwich with egg whites and a bacon substitute or lean ham for lower cholesterol.

Breakfast Sandwich With Canadian Bacon

A breakfast sandwich with egg, cheese and Canadian bacon, served on an English muffin, has 230 mg of cholesterol, eh?


The egg comes in at number six on the USDA’s ranking, with one, extra large egg containing 216 mg of cholesterol. The yolk of an egg contains the cholesterol, so consider egg whites for breakfast foods or other uses. An egg can contain more than 70 percent of your daily RDA for cholesterol. If you have a three-egg omelett, you now have close to 250 percent of the cholesterol you should have for the whole day. And that doesn’t include the oil it was cooked in, or any cheese, ham or bacon! And, you still have lunch and dinner coming! Try egg whites or make an omelett using three eggs, but only one yolk.

Breakfast Sandwich With Bacon

A breakfast sandwich on a croissant, with egg, cheese and bacon has 215 mg of cholesterol per common measure, putting it at No. 7 on the USDA’s list of foods with the most cholesterol.

Canned Shrimp

While low in fat, shrimp is high in cholesterol, with a 3 oz. serving of canned shrimp containing 214 mg of cholesterol.

Fried Shrimp

Surprisingly, breaded, fried shrimp contains less cholesterol than canned shrimp, according to the USDA, with 6 to 8 shrimp containing 200 mg of cholesterol.


Another fowl rounds out the top 10 foods highest in cholesterol per common measure. One half of a roasted duck contains 197 mg of cholesterol.

Additional Resources

U.S. Department of Agriculture: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23

American Heart Association: Cholesterol Foods High in Cholesterol Could Save Your Health!

Dietary Fiber Food: Cholesterol: List of Foods High in Cholesterol Content

Mayo Clinic: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Cholesterol Numbers