Scallops are relatively low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. But, some ingredients commonly used to cook them add high levels of cholesterol, such as butter. Healthier alternatives may taste just as good.

Seafood is good for you, right? When you’re minding your cholesterol levels, you can never be too cautious. As you’ll see in the case of scallops, the preparation details matter.

Scallops have a mild flavor, and you’ll often find them swimming in a sea of butter on a plate. In this case, scallops would not be a wise menu choice if you’re watching your cholesterol, but it’s not due to the scallops themselves.

According to the USDA, one 4-ounce serving of plain, steamed scallops contains just 80.2 calories. It also contains 24.9 milligrams of cholesterol and 0 grams of saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, and trans fat.

So, what does all this mean? Scallops are a low calorie and low cholesterol food. They’re also low in all types of fats.

Saturated fats can increase your cholesterol levels. Keeping an eye on the saturated fat content of your daily food intake is important when you’re working to lower or manage your cholesterol.

According to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats.

For someone who eats 2,000 calories each day, this is less than 16 grams of saturated fats. Considering that scallops have less than a gram of saturated fat, they’re a wise choice.

But those are plain scallops. If you go to a restaurant and order your scallops prepared with butter, you’re looking at an entirely different nutritional profile. Just 1 tablespoon of butter contains more than 7 grams of saturated fats.

If you’re looking to indulge in scallops but you’re also managing your cholesterol, you’ll need to be aware of what’s added to the scallops during cooking.

The recipes we’ve found are pretty typical scallop recipes, and some are better for you than others. We’ll help you put a healthier spin on them along the way.

Yep, butter. But this recipe manages to use 1 tablespoon of the decadent stuff for 4 servings. So, you get just 1/4 tablespoon, or less than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving. This is your typical simple stovetop scallop dish. And it looks divine.

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Orzo is a small pasta, and it’s great for salads. This recipe calls for just 2 tablespoons of olive oil, which contains very little saturated fat and is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

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This fresh-looking recipe uses ghee instead of regular butter. Ghee is clarified butter, but it does contain saturated fats, and when consumed in large amounts, it can increase your risk of heart disease.

Our recommendation for this recipe: Cut the amount of ghee in half. You’re left with about 3/4 tablespoon of ghee, split among 2–3 servings, a reasonable and moderate amount.

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This recipe has only five ingredients, and despite coming from the queen of butter herself, Paula Deen, it has none to speak of!

The fat in here is olive oil, and with just 2 tablespoons spread across 6 servings, this recipe really doesn’t need any adjustments to be heart-healthy!

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Using cauliflower instead of rice or potatoes for the base will make this scallop recipe paleo-friendly, as well as more heart-friendly.

It does call for a bit of butter, but not much — just 1/4 tablespoon per serving. You can eliminate this if you prefer, but the effects of keeping it in will be nominal.

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Watching your cholesterol doesn’t have to be difficult. By including healthy food items like scallops and adjusting recipes to fit your dietary needs, you can indulge in gourmet dishes that are both good for you and delicious.