For years, you've been told that high-cholesterol foods can cause heart disease.
However, many recent studies have shown that this isn't true ().
Most of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver. When you eat foods high in cholesterol, your liver produces less ().
For this reason, cholesterol in the diet has only minor effects on cholesterol in the blood ().
Studies also show that eating dietary cholesterol has no link to heart attacks or strokes (, 4).
What's more, many foods high in cholesterol are also among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet.
Here are 7 high-cholesterol foods that are actually super healthy.
Cheese is a tasty, filling, nutrient-dense food.
One ounce of cheese provides 27 mg of cholesterol, which is relatively high.
However, cheese is also loaded with other nutrients. For example, an ounce of cheese has 7 grams of quality protein and provides 20% of the RDI for calcium (5).
Despite also being high in saturated fat, research suggests that it may improve heart health (, ).
Bottom Line: Cheese is a tasty, filling food that may improve heart health, promote the loss of body fat and help prevent cavities.
Eggs are definitely among the most nutritious foods on earth.
Unfortunately, some people throw out the cholesterol-rich yolk and eat only the egg white. This is generally due to a misguided fear of the cholesterol in the yolk.
However, the yolk is by far the most nutritious part of the egg. It provides almost all the nutrients, while the white is mostly protein.
In addition, egg yolks contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which provide protection from eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration (, ).
Eating whole eggs may actually reduce your risk of heart disease by modifying the LDL cholesterol in your blood (, ).
Eggs may also lower blood sugar levels, and make you feel full and satisfied (, ).
Bottom Line: Whole eggs are loaded with nutrients. Almost all of the nutrients are found in the yolks, which also happen to be high in cholesterol.
Liver is a nutrition powerhouse.
It's also rich in cholesterol, regardless of the animal source.
For instance, a 100-gram (3.5 ounce) serving of beef liver contains 396 mg of cholesterol.
This serving also provides 28 grams of protein and is rich in many vitamins and minerals. In fact, it contains more than 600% of the RDI for vitamin A and more than 1,000% of the RDI for vitamin B12 (17).
It also provides 38% of the RDI for iron. What's more, this is the heme form of iron that is most easily absorbed ().
In addition, one serving of beef liver contains 426 mg of choline, an important nutrient that helps protect the health of your brain, heart, liver and muscles (, , ).
Along with whole eggs, liver is actually among the world's best sources of choline. This is important because most people don't get enough of this nutrient (, ).
Bottom Line: Liver is packed with vitamin A, vitamin B12, protein and iron. It is also extremely high in choline, which most people don't get enough of.
Shellfish are delicious and nourishing foods.
Some of the most popular types include shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, clams and scallops.
Interestingly, shellfish is low in fat yet high in cholesterol.
For example, a 100-gram (3.5 ounce) portion of shrimp contains 195 mg of cholesterol and only 1 gram of fat.
It's also a great protein source and very high in niacin, vitamin B12 and iron (23).
One serving of most types of shellfish also provides more than 50% of the RDI for selenium, a mineral that reduces inflammation and may decrease the risk of prostate cancer (, ).
In addition, shellfish is one of the best sources of iodine, which is crucial for proper brain and thyroid function. Research has shown that many people are at risk of iodine deficiency, particularly women and children (, ).
Bottom Line: Shellfish is a high-protein food that is rich in several nutrients that reduce disease risk, including selenium and iodine.
Cod liver oil delivers amazing health benefits in a concentrated form.
What's more, some researchers have suggested that vitamin D and omega-3 fats may work together to protect against cancer ().
Cod liver oil has also been shown to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain (, ).
Bottom Line: Cod liver oil is rich in vitamins A, D and omega-3 fatty acids. It may provide protection from heart disease and cancer.
Although liver is the most popular organ meat, others are also consumed.
Some other common types include kidneys, heart and brain.
Like shellfish, most organ meat is high in cholesterol and low in fat.
Organ meat is also rich in several vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, selenium and iron. In fact, one serving of kidneys provides a whopping 874% of the RDI for vitamin B12 and 181% of the RDI for selenium.
In addition, heart meat is very high in CoQ10, which may protect against Alzheimer's disease and heart failure. CoQ10 may also reduce the muscle pain related to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (, , ).
Bottom Line: Organ meat, such as kidney and heart meat, is rich in many vitamins and minerals. Heart meat is also high in beneficial CoQ10.
Sardines are a true superfood.
They're also higher in cholesterol than many people realize. A 100-gram (3.5 ounce) serving of sardines contains 142 mg of cholesterol.
One serving of sardines provides 25 grams of protein, 68% of the RDI for vitamin D, 38% of the RDI for calcium and 75% of the RDI for selenium (37).
It also contains 1,480 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. These have several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and protecting brain health (, , ).
Omega-3 fats may also be helpful for people with depression. In one 12-week study, 69% of patients who took the omega-3 fat EPA on a daily basis reported a reduction in symptoms of depression ().
Bottom Line: Sardines are rich in several nutrients. They are very high in omega-3s, which improve heart and brain health, while fighting depression.
Dietary cholesterol has only minimal effects on blood cholesterol. More importantly, it has absolutely no link with the risk of heart disease.
The truth is that most of the foods that are high in cholesterol are also super healthy and nutritious.
These foods should be embraced, not feared.