How do meats affect my risk for high cholesterol?

By: Bobbie Hasselbring

If you often eat fatty cuts of meat, your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol is likely too high. That means you are at greater risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. Animal fats provide about 2/3 of the saturated fat in the American diet. Foods that are high in saturated fat tend to be high in cholesterol, too. Organ meats, such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, and brains, are very high in cholesterol.

How to Reduce Your Risk

Take these actions to have a healthier heart.


  • If you don't know your blood cholesterol level, have it tested.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat. For instance, pick cuts with little visible fat, and cut off any fat you see. Don't choose meat with lots of marbling, which indicates fat. Select lean ground beef.
  • Eat organ meats only rarely, if at all.
  • Eat at least two servings of fish each week in place of other meats.
  • Limit highly processed meat products, such as bacon, hot dogs, bologna, and other prepackaged lunchmeats, unless they are labeled as lowfat or fat-free.
  • Limit your total fat intake to no more than 25% to 35% of your total daily calories.
  • Limit your saturated fat intake to less than 7% of your total daily calories.
  • Limit your cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg per day.

Learn more about cholesterol by visiting the following links: