10 Foods to Avoid if You're Watching Your Cholesterol

by Allison Bush Editor

They taste good, but...

There are many foods that give us tremendous pleasure to eat. Sadly, many of these foods are also extremely high in salt, fat, and cholesterol and should be avoided by people who have high cholesterol or other risk factors for heart disease. In this slideshow we look at 10 of the "top offenders" in terms of high cholesterol content.

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Shellfish such as oysters, mussels, crab, lobster, and clams contain large amounts of cholesterol, particularly in relation to their serving size. For example, King crab legs contain 71 mg of cholesterol per serving, lobster contains 61 mg per serving, and oysters contain 58 mg per serving.

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Cream cheese

Cream cheese is delicious when it's spread on a bagel for breakfast, but just 1 oz of cream cheese contains a whopping 27 mg of cholesterol.

When the actual serving size that most people put on their bagel is totalled, it can add up to a very large percentage of the recommended daily allowance of cholesterol.

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Caviar's high cost keeps many people from enjoying it on a regular basis, and this is probably a good thing considering it's also high in cholesterol and salt. People with high cholesterol should strictly limit their intake of caviar, since 100 g of caviar contains 588 mg of cholesterol. That's 196 percent of the recommended daily allowance of cholesterol!

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Though not an everyday food for most people in the United States, duck is still enjoyed by many people in some ethnic and upscale restaurants. Duck is an oily meat with a distinctive taste that contains large amounts of protein, iron, and vitamin B. Unfortunately, it also contains large amounts of cholesterol. It's thought that a typical single serving of duck can contain 100 mg of cholesterol or more.

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Ice cream

Cholesterol comes from animal products, and though it's hard to think of ice cream as an animal-based food, its dairy content puts it on the High Cholesterol List. Just 3.5 oz of a typical brand of ice cream can contain as much as 45 mg of cholesterol, and flavored ice cream's cholesterol content is even higher. This same amount of French vanilla, for example, contains nearly 80 mg of cholesterol.

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Egg yolk

Just as most people who are watching their cholesterol know to eat oatmeal, they also know not to eat large quantities of egg or egg yolk. And with good reason. The yolks of eggs have the most cholesterol of any food, with 1,234 mg per 100 g serving. This translates to 411 percent of the USDA's recommended daily allowance for cholesterol.

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A mainstay of baking, butter is in many of the foods people enjoy such as cakes, cookies, and other desserts. But just 1 tablespoon of butter contains 30 g of cholesterol. That translates to 10 percent of the recommended daily allowance for cholesterol for a very small amount. When you stop and consider that some recipes--such as shortbread--call for 2-3 sticks of butter, the cholesterol totals can soar very quickly!

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Fast food

A typical fast food burger averages between 60 and 150 mg of cholesterol, while chicken nuggets contain between 30 and 50 mg.

Fast food breakfasts are the worst, however. A classic egg-based breakfast sandwich contains about 260 mg of cholesterol, though larger sizes can have as much as 465 mg. And breakfast burritos are even higher, averaging about 465 mg per serving.

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Shrimp is a puzzling food for people watching their diet, since it is very low in fat but very high in cholesterol. The key with eating shrimp appears to be moderation. Though 100 g of shrimp contains 65 percent of the recommended daily allowance of cholesterol, a single large shrimp contains only 3-4 percent.

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Bacon is made from pork that's been cured in salty brine and then smoked. It has a distinctive flavor that many people enjoy, and this unique flavor leads to its inclusion in many recipes. But just one piece of bacon contains about 9 mg of cholesterol and 5 mg of pure fat. Given the typical serving, bacon's best avoided by people who are watching their cholesterol.

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.