Too much cholesterol in the blood puts you at a higher risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. Consuming too much dietary cholesterol and saturated fat can increase your cholesterol levels, so knowing which foods to avoid can help keep your heart healthy.
Dietary cholesterol comes from animal food sources, mainly egg yolks, meat, poultry and shellfish. Dairy products, including whole- and reduced-fat milk, also contain cholesterol.
Although foods high in cholesterol can raise your blood cholesterol level, saturated fat plays the biggest role. Saturated fats from meats, nuts and dairy foods cause the liver to produce more LDL, or "bad," cholesterol.
Don't rely on labels that say a food is "low-" or "no-" cholesterol. The most important consideration is whether a food item contains saturated fat, so check the nutrition label.
Although coconut oil has no cholesterol, it is high in saturated fat. That makes it more likely to raise your cholesterol levels than salmon, which contains cholesterol but also polyunsaturated fats. They help the liver produce more HDL, or "good," cholesterol.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary cholesterol to less than 300 milligrams a day for most people. If you have heart disease, you should not consume more than 200 milligrams daily.
The AHA suggests eating no more than six ounces of lean meat, fish and poultry per day. Consume fat-free and low-fat dairy products.