Heart attacks are one of the most known causes of death in the world. And having high overall cholesterol levels have been linked to not one but several lethal heart diseases. And so, if you are a seafood enthusiast like me, you would want to know which seafoods have high cholesterol and which don’t.
So you can avoid the high cholesterol ones and still get to eat the food that you love.
But before we get to that, lets first understand what cholesterol actually is because it is one of the most misunderstood substances out there.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that plays an important role in the production of many hormones in our body like vitamin D and bile. Both of which are necessary for digesting fats.
Cholesterol can also be found in animal products like eggs, meat and dairy. So if you consume those products, you also consume cholesterol.
But the interesting part is that your liver also produces its own cholesterol. Your body uses this cholesterol for different functions. So when you consume additional cholesterol from animal products, your liver then compensates for that by producing less cholesterol of its own.
There are 2 different types of cholesterols – LDL and HDL
Low-Density Lipoproteins and High-Density Lipoproteins.
Cholesterol doesn’t mix well with liquids like blood. So it has to be transported through you body via lipoproteins. And that’s where they get their name.
LDL or Low-Density Lipoproteins are the harmful cholesterol that you might have already heard of. These LDLs are known for causing the plaque build up in your arteries that then cause heart attacks.
HDL or High-Density Lipoproteins are the opposite of LDLs. They help get rid of excess cholesterol from your body, thus making your body healthier.
Now that we know the basics of cholesterol, lets get into which seafoods are high cholesterol so you can avoid them and which ones you can eat.
Seafoods That Are High In Cholesterol
The amount of cholesterol in different types of seafood varies widely. It also depends on where they are sourced from. But here are some that are high in cholesterol according to the USDA:
- Crab: 29.8 milligrams
- Cooked shrimp: 59.8 milligrams
- Cooked lobster: 41.4 milligrams
- Cooked clams: 19 milligrams
- Wild Atlantic salmon: 20.1 milligrams
- Cooked tilapia: 16.2 milligrams
- Cooked cod: 17.3 milligrams
Are There Any Risks In Eating High Cholesterol Seafood?
Studies have shown that there is no link between dietary cholesterol and heart diseases. At least in the general population.
What do I mean by this?
The research that was conducted, showed no signs that people who consumed high levels of cholesterol through animal products were at any higher risk of heart disease. This included people that consume large amounts of cholesterol in their diet through animal products.
However, there are some people that are considered as “hyper-responders” or “non-compensators”, these people were more vulnerable to heart diseases after consuming food that had high dietary cholesterol.
So, if you don’t know which one you are, it is better to be cautious about it and stay on the safer side rather than going YOLO.
If you are worried about heart diseases, then you should be focusing on the LDL to HDL ratio. This is the most important thing that will predict whether you will suffer from a heart disease in the near future or not. Make sure you ask your doctor what ratio is healthy for your age and body type and whether you should do something about it.
Benefits of Eating Seafood
Now that we know high dietary cholesterol won’t cause you heart attacks, lets talk about the benefits and risks of eating seafood.
There was a study published back in 2017 that found that oily fish increased the HDL cholesterol levels in blood. This is the good cholesterol.
But wait, there’s more. Before you go binging on oily fish, make sure you finish reading the entire article to know about all the risks for consuming a lot of seafood.
Seafood is also known to be a great source of protein and nutrients. So much so, we wrote an entire article about it. Check it out here.
And not just protein, it is also known to contain a healthy amount of omega-3 fatty acids which are also known to decrease the risks of heart disease.
This makes the case for why you should eat seafood at least 2-3 times each week. But then there’s the mercury problem.
The higher your consumption of seafood is, the more mercury you will be consuming. So it depends whether the benefits of consuming seafood outweighs the risks for you.
And not just that, you should also take into account if you have any other healthier alternative where you aren’t taking as much risk.
We will however list the low mercury seafood options that you have available. And also the high mercury option that you should avoid.
Low Mercury Seafood Options
- Pacific oysters
- Atlantic mackerel
High Mercury Seafood Options
- Bigeye tuna
How to Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels
It is important to make sure that your cholesterol is at healthy levels. But you can’t know that without having it checked. The CDC recommends that you get your levels checked every 4 to 6 years.
But, if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, or if you already have diabetes then you should be getting your cholesterol levels checked more often. Same thing applies if your family has a history of heart disease, or if you are overweight.
All of those factors increase the risk of you having higher bad cholesterol levels in your body. And the more often you are getting it checked, the most up to date you will be about what is going on in your body.
So what is a healthy cholesterol level?
According to the CDC, these are healthy blood cholesterol levels:
- LDL cholesterol: less than 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol: greater than 40 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL
If you have a high cholesterol or if you want to avoid ever getting a high cholesterol level in your body, then there will be some lifestyle changes that you will have to make. Most of these will be dietary changes but these changes will not be something that you follow for a short time.
It will be something that will stick with your for the rest of your life.
So before you making any changes, make sure you get with your doctor, determine your current cholesterol levels and ask them for advice on what you should be changing in your life to achieve a better cholesterol level.
Too many times we see people just getting their cholesterol checked and then just researching on the internet to see what changes they can make. And while that is a good thing, you should always go to the doctor and ask their advice on these things.
They will be able to customize the changes for your life goals and your body type. All the advice that you find online is generalized.
I hope this article helped you.