What Meat Is Low in Cholesterol? (4 Types & Which to Avoid)

Arianna Foster
Published by Arianna Foster
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

As a health-conscious eater, I recently started following diets that lower my cholesterol intake.

After days of research, I discovered that animal meat has high cholesterol levels and saturated fat.

Fortunately, after a sit-down with my dietician, he advised that I don't have to cut off meat entirely but that I should instead go for lean cuts that are low in cholesterol.

If you're looking for a place to order extra lean meat, poultry, organ meat, or fish, ButcherBox is a great place to start.

Today, I'll share different low-cholesterol meats and meat that you should avoid if you're following a healthy diet.

Quick Summary

  • Low-cholesterol meats include fish, organ meats, poultry, and lean cuts of red meat.
  • Cholesterol is a fat lipid found in the blood and is derived from the foods we eat.
  • Fatty red meat has high bad cholesterol levels, and excessive consumption can cause heart disease.

 

Meats Low in Cholesterol

Even though overeating fatty meats is bad, there are low-cholesterol meat options that you can enjoy.

Here are four types of meat that have low cholesterol levels:

1. Fish

Salmon meat that is low in cholesterol

Natural low levels of saturated fat exist in many kinds of fish. Some have more omega-3 fatty acids and unsaturated fats but are generally low in bad cholesterol [1].

You can eat fatty fish like herring, salmon, or cod for a delicious low-cholesterol diet.

During fish days at home, I always strive to prepare them without adding any extra cooking fats. This is a great tip for reducing cholesterol and visible fat content in the final dish.

Read More: Is Fish Meat?

2. Organ Meats

Organ meats include the tripe, liver, heart, and kidneys of ruminant animals.

These are other great alternatives if you're watching your cholesterol because they have low levels of trans and saturated fats.

3. Poultry

Turkey breast meat that is low in cholesterol

This is a fantastic low-cholesterol option if you can get your hands on some ground chicken or turkey breast that is skinless and lean.

Lean roasted turkey breast pieces have a cholesterol content of about 74 mg per 100g [2]. Out of this, only 3 g of saturated fat is in it. This is a relatively small amount considering the serving size.

As for skinless chicken breasts, you vet about 73 mg of cholesterol and 0.3g of saturated fat per 100 g serving size.

Read More: What Are the Grades of Poultry?

4. Extra Lean Red Meat

Red meat is a culprit of high cholesterol levels. If you're excessively consuming red meat, it's high time you reduce it or consider replacing it with other protein sources.

However, I recommend going for extra lean cuts of meat like bottom round steak, top sirloin steak, sirloin tip steak, and extra lean ground beef.

All these meats have low LDL cholesterol and saturated fat levels; per 100 g serving, they contain less than 80 mg of cholesterol. This is also because there are fewer overall visible fats on the cuts.

If you're not a fan of beef, you can go for lean pork cuts like the pork tenderloin, which has around 80 mg of cholesterol and only 1.2 mg of trans fat per 100 g serving size [3].

If you're not on a meat diet, you can reduce your blood cholesterol levels by eating healthy vegan foods like nuts and whole grains. Also, ensure you portion your foods correctly and get plenty of exercise.

 

Related Articles:

What Is Cholesterol?

A close up shot of bacon on a pan that contains high cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol is a waxy-like material found in the blood. Optimum cholesterol levels are great for developing healthy tissues and cells.

Cholesterol also helps to nourish hormones and vital vitamins in the body for your well-being. However, high cholesterol concentration in the blood has severe health risks [4].

There are two types of cholesterol in the body:

  • High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): This is a good kind of cholesterol. It helps clean bad cholesterol out of the system and carries it to the liver to get broken down.
  • Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): This is a bad kind of cholesterol. It builds up quickly in the blood vessels and clogs them up. High LDL levels increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and stroke [5].

Processed meat like bacon and deli has a higher concentration of saturated and trans fats. You elevate your LDL cholesterol levels and total dietary cholesterol when you consume them in excess.

"Eating fatty meats that have high cholesterol causes an accumulation of bad cholesterol in the liver; causing liver damage."
- Kim Chin, Registered Dietician 

Meats To Avoid

A close up shot of fatty red meat

If you're ready to cut off meat entirely from your diet, here are the bad types of meat that you should avoid.

  • Fatty meat: It's best to avoid fatty meat that has more marbling on the surface. If you're forced to cook such meat, trim excessively to remove the fat. Also, cook it in less or no olive oil at all to lower cholesterol.
  • Processed meats:  In addition to high saturated or trans fat levels, processed meat has a lot of additives and preservatives. 

FAQs

What Red Meat Is Lowest in Cholesterol?

Red meat that is lowest in cholesterol includes top-round steak and sirloin tip steak. These meats are extra lean and have no visible fat flecks on their composition.

Is Chicken Bad for High Blood Cholesterol?

Chicken is not bad for high blood cholesterol. Chicken has lower cholesterol and trans fat levels than other meat types. To reduce the fat levels even further, ensure you remove the skin before cooking.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/low-cholesterol-diet-fatty-fish
  2. https://www.nutritionix.com/food/turkey-breast/100-g
  3. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/pork-products/2152/2
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470561/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542294/
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About the author

Arianna Foster
Nutritionist/Editorial Director
Arianna Foster is the editorial director and senior reviewer at Carnivore Style. She loves sharing her passion for nutrition, diverse cooking techniques, and the many health benefits of a meat diet with readers.
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