Cholesterol is a food component that is often perceived to bring negative effects to the body. Actually, cholesterol is present in the membranes of our cells. It is needed in the production of steroid hormones like progesterone and testosterone. However, excessive consumption of foods high in cholesterol may lead to plaque buildup and cause atherosclerosis and stroke. Here are 10 foods you need to keep an eye on:
Although eggs are an integral part of most breakfast meals, eating eggs daily exposes you to high cholesterol and heart diseases. An average sunny side up egg contains 184.5 mg, which is more than half of the maximum 300 mg recommended amount of cholesterol intake per day. Goose eggs, quail eggs, and caviar are no exemption to this too. Limit your consumption of eggs, especially the yolk, where most of the cholesterol content is.
2. Fast Food
It’s not a surprise that fast food is included in this list. An average burger with two patties contain as much as 47% of the daily value (DV). Throw in two layers of cheese, onions, bacon strips, lettuce, tomatoes, and a helping of sauce, and the amount balloons to 175% DV. Remember, that just accounts for one piece of burger. Other foods high in cholesterol under this category are milkshakes, muffins, sausages, and sundaes, which we usually pair with burgers.
3. Pastries and Sweets
A typical chocolate cake without frosting has about 27 mg of cholesterol, while cream puffs and brownies contain 43% DV and 6% DV, respectively. Sponge cakes that are made from eggs or animal fats have higher cholesterol content. Packed cookies and cupcakes also fall under this list. Manufacturers often use hydrogenated vegetable oils, which contain not just cholesterol, but also trans fats.
Although it is very high in iron, the downside of liver is that it has so much cholesterol. This organ is the body’s ultimate source of cholesterol, so eating it naturally gives you a lot. Animal liver has an average of 564 mg of cholesterol per 100 g of serving. Chicken (53% DV per ounce) and lamb (47% DV per ounce) liver are known to have the highest amounts. Following them are beef with 37% DV and pork liver with 34% DV.
5. Butter and Margarine
A stick of butter can have as much as 243 mg of cholesterol, which is 81% of the maximum daily intake of cholesterol. 100 g of butter has a staggering 215 mg, while whipped butter has 219 mg. Experts say that even margarine, which is often thought of as a healthier alternative to butter, is not free of cholesterol. Certain types of margarines, like hard stick margarines, may have higher cholesterol content because of the hydrogenated oils that are used to produce it.
One serving of shrimp (100 g) can have as much as 211 mg of cholesterol. That’s 70% of the recommended dietary allowance. Meanwhile, 3 ounces of cooked calamari contain 74% DV. Lobsters and crabs have 41% DV and 27% respectively. Mollusks like clams (19% DV) and mussels (16%) also fall under this category.
7. Fried Fish
Fish are an excellent source of vitamin A, B, and D, to name a few, and contain little to no cholesterol at all. Unfortunately, when fried, this is not the case anymore. Fish like cod and sardines can have up to 43% DV and 39% DV, respectively, and deep frying them significantly increases this percentage to varying extents. Subjecting fish to hot cooking oil also gives your meal additional trans fats.
8. Packed Chips
Trans fat, which is a product of vegetable oil and hydrogen that is used in producing commercial packages of baked or fried chips, crackers, or onion rings, has the ability to turn fats into bad cholesterol. Flavoring also plays a role here. Cheese-flavored chips have more cholesterol than sour cream, and then than barbecue.
9. Ice Cream
Aside from having high levels of sugar, ice cream also has cholesterol. A 100-gram scoop of ice cream reportedly contains more than 320 mg of cholesterol, which is roughly 63% DV. The preservatives and the additional toppings, including that sweet sugar cone, are still not included in this approximation.
10. Red Meat
Even eating too much proteins can give you high cholesterol. Lean veal (45% DV) and lamb (36% DV) are the red meats that have the highest amount of cholesterol, and this number is an estimate per 28 g of cooked meat. Pork loin (30% DV) and beef steak (28% DV) have the lowest.
The Good Side of Cholesterol
Although it is a fact that cholesterol increases risks to heart diseases, it is not always bad. Otherwise, there would be no RDI of 300 mg for it. It plays a role in very important processes, like hormone production. The only reason why cholesterol can become alarming is that it is present in high amounts in certain food. Note that your goal should be to avoid excessive intake, but not the absence of cholesterol altogether.