Venison, or meat from elk and deer, is a type of game meat known for its strong earthy taste and smooth texture.

Because it’s leaner than some other types of red meat, you may wonder whether it’s also lower in cholesterol and if it can fit into a heart-healthy diet.

This article takes a detailed look at the cholesterol content of venison and how it stacks up against other types of meat.

raw venison steaks on counter with onion and rosemary Share on Pinterest
Nadine Greeff/Stocksy United

Cholesterol is a type of fat produced naturally by your body. It’s also found in certain animal foods.

Although it’s needed in small amounts for functions like hormone and cell production, having high levels of cholesterol in your blood may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease (1, 2).

The amount of cholesterol found in venison varies depending on the cut.

For example, meat from the shoulder clod or ribs contains more cholesterol than leaner cuts like those from the loin or top round.

Here’s how much cholesterol is found in a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of different varieties (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8):

  • Loin: 67 mg
  • Shoulder clod: 96 mg
  • Tenderloin: 75 mg
  • Top round: 72 mg
  • Ground: 83 mg
  • Ribs: 95 mg
summary

The amount of cholesterol found in venison varies depending on the specific cut. Leaner cuts like loin or top round contain less cholesterol than meat from the ribs or shoulder clod.

The amount of cholesterol found in venison and other meats depends on several factors, including the specific cut of meat and how it’s prepared.

For example, cooking venison using fats that contain cholesterol, such as lard or butter, could increase the total amount of cholesterol in your meal (9, 10).

Generally, venison is slightly higher in cholesterol than most other types of meat, including beef and pork. Still, the differences are minimal.

Here’s a closer look at the nutritional content of a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of several types of cooked ground meat (7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15):

CaloriesProteinFatSaturated fatCholesterol
Venison15922.5 grams7 grams3.4 grams83 mg
Beef20421 grams12.5 grams4.8 grams71 mg
Pork25222 grams18 grams6.5 grams80 mg
Lamb24121 grams17 grams7 grams82 mg
Chicken17123 grams9 grams2.3 grams78 mg
Turkey17323.5 grams9 grams2.3 grams79 mg

Venison has fewer calories than all the other types of meat. It also contains a good amount of protein, with around 22.5 grams per serving.

Despite its cholesterol content, venison contains less total fat and saturated fat than beef, pork, and lamb. This may make it a better option if you’re eating a heart-healthy diet or limiting your intake of saturated fat.

Although eating saturated fat isn’t directly linked to heart disease, it can increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol, which may be a risk factor for heart disease (16).

summary

Venison contains slightly more cholesterol than other types of meat but is lower in total and saturated fat.

Although venison provides slightly more cholesterol than some other types of meat, the difference is negligible.

Furthermore, venison contains fewer calories and less saturated fat than other varieties of red meat, including beef, pork, and lamb.

Therefore, it can fit into a heart-healthy diet if enjoyed in moderation. Still, if you’re trying to cut back on your cholesterol intake, you may want to stick to leaner cuts like the loin or top round.

Keep in mind, though, that an increased intake of red meat — including both processed and unprocessed varieties — may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke (17, 18).

For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends limiting your consumption of fish, shellfish, skinless poultry, and trimmed lean meats to less than 5.5 ounces (156 grams) per day as part of a healthy diet (19).

summary

While lean cuts of venison can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a low cholesterol, heart-healthy diet, it’s best to limit your overall intake of red meat.

The amount of cholesterol found in venison depends on the specific cut.

While venison is slightly higher in cholesterol than other types of meat, it’s also lower in calories and saturated fat.

Therefore, venison can fit into a well-rounded diet — just remember to enjoy it in moderation and pair it with a variety of other nutrient-dense sources of protein.