The relationship between dietary cholesterol and the cholesterol in your own blood is more complex than once thought. In fact, many high-cholesterol foods are also highly nutritious.

For years, you’ve been told that high-cholesterol foods increase the risk of heart disease.

However, many recent studies have shown that this isn’t necessarily true (1).

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is produced by your liver. When you eat foods high in cholesterol, your liver produces less (2).

For this reason, cholesterol in the diet has only minor effects on blood cholesterol levels in most people (2).

However, a 2022 systematic review found that reduced dietary cholesterol decreases the risk of heart attacks or strokes (3).

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend focusing on whole dietary patterns and having a low intake of trans fats and dietary cholesterol. The guidelines recommend consuming less than 10% of your total calories in fats per day (4).

What’s more, many foods high in cholesterol are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods.

Here are 7 high-cholesterol foods that are super healthy.

Cheese is a tasty, filling, nutrient-dense food.

One ounce or slice of cheddar provides 28 mg of cholesterol, which is a relatively high amount.

However, cheese is also loaded with other nutrients. For example, an ounce of cheddar has 7 grams of quality protein and provides 20% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium (5).

Despite also being high in saturated fat, research suggests that it may improve heart health (6, 7).

High-protein, low-carb dairy foods like cheese may likewise help decrease body fat and increase muscle mass, though high dairy intake with calorie restriction may still lead to weight gain (8).

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods.

They’re also extremely high in cholesterol, with 2 large eggs providing 372 mg (9).

Additionally, they provide 13 grams of protein, 56% of the DV for selenium, as well as good amounts of riboflavin, vitamin B12, and choline (9).

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 reduce the risk of eye disorders like cataracts and macular degeneration (10).

Eating whole eggs may even reduce risk factors for heart disease in some people (11).

What’s more, eggs may lower blood sugar levels and make you feel full and satisfied (12, 13).

Liver is a nutritional 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 389 mg of cholesterol.

This serving also provides 27 grams of protein and is rich in many vitamins and minerals. In fact, it contains more than 600% of the DV for vitamin A and over 1,000% of the DV for vitamin B12 (14).

Furthermore, it provides 28% of the DV for iron. Plus, this is the heme form of iron that is most easily absorbed (15).

In addition, 3.5 ounces of beef liver contain 339 mg of choline, an important nutrient that helps protect the health of your brain, heart, liver, and muscles (16).

Along with whole eggs, liver is among the world’s best sources of choline. This is important because most people don’t get enough of this nutrient (16).

Shellfish are delicious and nourishing foods.

Some of the most popular types include shrimp, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, clams, and scallops.

Interestingly, shellfish are low in fat yet high in cholesterol.

For example, a 100-gram (3.5-ounce) portion of shrimp contains 211 mg of cholesterol and only 2 grams of fat.

It’s also a great protein source and very high in vitamin B12 and choline (17).

One serving of most types of shellfish likewise provides around 90% of the DV for selenium, a mineral that reduces inflammation and may decrease the risk of prostate cancer (18).

In addition, shellfish are some 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 (19).

Cod liver oil delivers amazing health benefits in a concentrated form.

Just one tablespoon contains 77.5 mg of cholesterol. It also contains 453% of the DV for vitamin A and 227% of the DV for vitamin D (20).

Cod liver oil is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and offer various other benefits (21).

What’s more, some researchers have suggested that vitamin D and omega-3 fats may work together to protect against cancer (22).

Although liver is the most popular organ meat, others are consumed as well.

Some other common types include kidneys, heart, and brain.

Like shellfish, most organ meat is high in cholesterol and low in fat.

For instance, a 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of lamb kidneys contains 565 mg of cholesterol and only 4 grams of fat (23).

Organ meat is also rich in several vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, selenium, and iron. In fact, 100 grams of lamb kidneys provide a whopping 3,288% of the DV for vitamin B12 and 398% of the DV for selenium (23).

In addition, heart meat is very high in CoQ10, which may reduce the symptoms of heart failure. CoQ10 may also reduce muscle pain related to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (24).

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, 32% of the DV for vitamin D, 29% of the DV for calcium, and 96% of the DV for selenium (25).

Additionally, it contains 982 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. These have several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and protecting brain health (26, 27).

Omega-3 fats may also ease symptoms in people with depression. A 2 year observational study published in 2023 concluded that an omega 3 supplement taken with medications significantly improved depressive symptoms in adults (28).

Dietary cholesterol has only minimal effects on blood cholesterol in most people. Your whole dietary pattern counts more than individual foods. The best long term plan is to focus on consuming whole foods at every meal.

The truth is that most of the foods that are high in cholesterol are also healthy and nutritious.