You don't need to eat any foods that contain cholesterol. Your body makes all the cholesterol you need. Eating too much cholesterol-rich food may raise your blood cholesterol. Only foods from animal sources contain cholesterol. Foods high in cholesterol include meats, especially organ meats, egg yolks, and whole-milk products. In addition, many of the same foods are high in fat and saturated fat. So limit how often you eat these foods and the amount that you eat.
Here are some tips for cutting back on the amount of cholesterol that you eat.
- Eat no more than 3 whole eggs per week.
- Use 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg.
- Switch from whole-milk products to low-fat or nonfat versions over time. It might take a while to adjust to the taste. But gradually you can make the change from whole milk to 2% to 1% to nonfat, and the change will be easier this way.
- Avoid eating or limit your intake of organ meats, such as liver, sweetbreads, brains, and heart.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in place of foods rich in cholesterol.
- Read the Nutrition Facts labels on food packages. These must list the amount of cholesterol per serving. Choose foods lower in cholesterol.
Remember that eating foods high in saturated fat tends to raise cholesterol levels even more than eating foods high in cholesterol. If you focus on eating a diet low in total fat, this will help you reduce your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, too. For more details about limiting the cholesterol in your diet, see How Much Cholesterol Can I Have?