Dietary Cholesterol and Heart Health

Optimize your heart health by eating foods rich in cholesterol.


By Dr. Steven Lin


If there’s one thing that keeps you at the top of your performance, it’s keeping your heart in the best shape it can be in. So, which foods should you be including in your diet to maximize your heart health?

The idea that a diet low in cholesterol promotes a healthy heart has been around for many years now. However, heart attacks have continued to be a major health problem with cardiovascular disease now affecting 26 million Americans. Last year, the USDA removed the previous recommended daily limit of cholesterol of 300mg from its dietary guidelines.

Why is this so? A closer look at the evidence surrounding cholesterol’s role in the body shows that if you want a healthy heart and to optimize your health, then you may need to eat a diet that includes foods rich in cholesterol.

Dietary cholesterol doesn’t translate to blood cholesterol

Heart attacks are caused by buildup of fatty plaques in arteries that starve cardiovascular tissue of oxygen and can eventually cause a heart attack. Doctor’s recommendations for a healthy heart have previously been based on limiting dietary cholesterol due to the belief that there is a direct relationship between heart attack and cholesterol in the diet.

The big problem here is that dietary cholesterol must go through many processes in the body before it gets into the blood. This includes gut bacteria digesting and absorbing nutrients in the body. The gall bladder also plays a big role in releasing cholesterols into the digestive system.

Studies have looked at dietary cholesterol and measured the levels of both HDL and LDL levels. They found that whilst people respond differently to cholesterol, dietary cholesterol intake didn’t change measurements in blood cholesterol. In other words, cholesterol from food doesn’t directly translate to the HDL and LDL readings in the blood.

High blood cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease.

The second big misconception surrounding dietary cholesterol is that high cholesterol in the blood is actually the cause of heart disease. The idea behind this is that raised ‘bad cholesterol,’ or LDL cholesterol, was long the foundation for the thinking behind why dietary cholesterol was bad for our heart.

Since then, large studies published by the American Heart Journal show that most people hospitalized for a heart attack don’t have cholesterol levels that are deemed a risk for cardiovascular event.

It’s believed that one of the big problems was that the initial studies that gave birth to the proposed link between blood cholesterol and heart disease were based on feeding rabbits (who are herbivores) and not humans. They were fed high amounts of cholesterol and found to have plaque build ups in their blood. So unless you’re a rabbit, you don’t need to worry about cholesterol causing a heart attack.

Cholesterol’s real role in the body

Scientists have learned so much in the last 10 years about the role of cholesterol in the body and in fact, how crucial it is. Cholesterol is produced by the liver and without it, we wouldn’t be able to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K2 which modulate many of the vital processes in the body.

What’s more is that foods that contain cholesterol (like egg yolks) are packed with other vitamins like B vitamins and one particular we know as choline. Officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998, choline is crucial for brain and other neural development in the body as well as our metabolism, cell structure and liver detoxification process.

Put simply, foods containing cholesterol are essential components to keep your body working at its best. If you want to optimize your health you should make sure that you’re eating foods rich in cholesterol.

Eating cholesterol to your heart’s content

Previously it was recommended that you should be limiting your daily intake of cholesterol, however we’ve now realize that there is no link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease.

On the flip side, cholesterol is crucial for a healthy body and comes packed with plenty of other nutrients like choline.

So for a healthy heart, you should eat a diet rich in cholesterol with serving per day of any of the cholesterol rich foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Oily fish
  • Shellfish
  • Butter
  • Red Meat
  • Cheese

Dr. Steven Lin is a practicing board accredited dentist, writer and speaker. As passionate health educator, Dr. Lin works to merge the fields of dental and nutritional science to show how the mouth is a crucial part of our overall health. 

As a TEDx speaker his work has been featured on influential health websites such as MindBodyGreen and Dr. Lin is now working on his own publication ‘The Dental Diet’ an exploration of how food is the foundation of oral health and how it connects to the body. Follow Dr. Lin on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Main Photo Credit: Lisovskaya Natalia/; Second Photo Credit: Gayvoronskaya_Yana/; Third Photo Credit: designer491/; Fourth Photo Credit: Oleksandra Naumenko/

Mon Mar 07 22:20:46 UTC 2016

Very interesting article! It has cleared my opinion about the real role of cholesterol in our body. 👍🏼

Tue Mar 08 05:36:45 UTC 2016

Very few people yet know about the Government's change regarding dietary cholesterol. I read the article hoping to come across more info on the causes of bad cholesterol production. I've read that inflammation causes the body to manufacture and release cholesterol in order to patch damaged arteries. Chronic inflammation (caused by the average American diet) eventually causes serious disease. I was hoping to see some brief advice on foods to avoid. I'm hopeful that the average American will soon learn that eating the cheap, highly processed and preserved foods that the corporations are feeding you will likely lead to a premature death. If food can't spoil don't eat it.

Sun Mar 13 20:39:56 UTC 2016

Carem, for your reading

Sat Mar 19 17:29:39 UTC 2016

My kind of food besides Salmon, which I eat almost daily.

Sat Mar 26 15:21:56 UTC 2016

Eh, I would cut out the red meats and cheeses. Animal products aren't healthy for you. Butter? Eh? I'm highly skeptical about this article.

Wed Mar 30 19:01:38 UTC 2016

I agree with Theresa Preston the author may have good knowledge and done research but I have yet to see any major push to move in the direction he espouses. I also would have questions related to his credentials to be an expert in this field of study.

Wed Apr 06 23:09:38 UTC 2016

Get this off my timeline

Thu Apr 07 04:09:40 UTC 2016

Oily fish is ok,but for the rest... Red meat should be eaten once a week, and butter again once a week at breakfast and not cooked ( on a slice of integral bread with a teaspoon of jam ). For the rest white meat twice a week and fish ( salmon is ok but again maximum twice a week) a lot of vegetables and a bunch of greasy fruit like mandeln .

Fri Apr 08 18:57:07 UTC 2016

I can't digest red meat yet

Fri Apr 08 18:59:35 UTC 2016

Interestingly I use this app due to weight loss from disease. I'm tracking to gain but with my disease comes dietary challenges. I have an integrative internist who designs exactly what I eat for my condition. That being said, I don't follow most of the commentary/articles.

Sat Apr 09 12:36:07 UTC 2016

Thanx for this article. Im one of those people who believes we have been fooled. Just for them to dictate what people should eat. Result? Increasing number of heart attacks and obesity. Sadly even nutritionists who studied nutrition their whole life arent aware of this.

Sun Apr 17 03:37:23 UTC 2016

Is it me or is argus telling us to eat cholesterol 🖖🏾🐬

Sun Apr 24 19:56:46 UTC 2016

I have to say that our bodies need cholesterol to function properly. There are good types of cholesterol and bad types and of course everything in moderation. You can get good cholesterol from the organic foods we eat, just don't eat the over processed nasty that has all the bad saturated fats and preservatives in it.

Sat May 14 13:29:05 UTC 2016

Is this a joke?

Sun May 15 21:14:31 UTC 2016

Well, my doctor just (April 2016) put me on a low cholesterol diet, greatly reducing the very foods Dr. Lin proposed to eat until our hearts content. So this is not considered old medical opinion. Plus, I have been temporarily denied life insurance until I get my cholesterol down. So don't buy into this Dentist's unfounded claim.