Although fish contains small amounts of cholesterol, it is low in saturated fat and can be eaten by people watching their cholesterol levels. The beneficial omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish may also help prevent cardiovascular disease associated with high cholesterol. This article answers some questions about cholesterol and diet and gives advice on what types of fish to eat. Also, it gives nutrient profiles of some fish and ideas for including them in meals.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body needs to make hormones and vitamins and build healthy cells. However, an excess of the wrong type of cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The two types of cholesterol are low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which doctors consider “bad” cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is beneficial (“good” cholesterol). ). Lipoproteins transport cholesterol throughout the body via the bloodstream. As a result, LDL cholesterol can build up in blood vessels, oxidize, and form dangerous plaques in arteries. The lipoproteins that form HDL cholesterol bring the cholesterol back to the liver, which processes it and prevents it from building up in the arteries.

How does diet affect cholesterol?

Diet is one of the factors that can influence cholesterol levels. Other factors include genetics, medications, and level of physical activity. However, current data do not show that dietary cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Instead, people should try to understand their saturated fat intake. It’s best not to eat too many foods high in saturated fat or trans fat, which raise LDL cholesterol. Instead, eat a whole-food diet rich in fiber and vegetables to reduce the risk of heart disease and manage cholesterol levels. This diet should emphasize fish and poultry, while limiting red meat and fatty dairy products. People who skin poultry, remove visible fat from meat, and grill meat and fish rather than frying them can also reduce their saturated fat intake.

Does fish contain cholesterol?

Fatty and lean fish are both low in saturated fat, making them a healthy addition to the diet. This means that people trying to lower their cholesterol levels don’t need to avoid any particular type of fish. Fish and seafood also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Can people who watch their cholesterol levels eat fish?

People who want to lower their cholesterol levels or improve their cholesterol profile can eat fish without fear of adverse effects. To limit the consumption of saturated fats, it is possible to use another method of cooking than frying in oil, such as baking, poaching or grilling.

Which fish to choose?

One can choose lean fish such as sea bass or cod, or fatty fish rich in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Another consideration when choosing fish is mercury content, which may be higher in some fish and seafood than in others.

Here are some of the best low-mercury fish choices:

Atlantic mackerel
black bass
freshwater trout

Fish Meal Ideas

Fish is a source of good fats and protein and contains no carbohydrates or fiber. Also, fish with bones are rich in calcium and all fish contain beneficial vitamins such as selenium and vitamin B12.

Here are some examples of healthy fish, their nutritional profile and ideas for preparing or cooking them.


Nutritional profile per 100 grams (g):

Calories: 206
Protein: 22.1g
Saturated fat: 2.4g
Cholesterol: 63 milligrams (mg)

Salmon can be poached, grilled or baked in aluminum foil. To minimize saturated fat, avoid using butter and prefer olive oil and flavorings such as citrus, garlic and soy sauce. For extra flavor, try adding fresh herbs like parsley, basil or cilantro. Salmon can be used in Asian recipes, salads or with eggs for breakfast.


Nutritional profile per 100g

Calories: 168
Protein: 23.8g
Saturated fat: 1.65g
Cholesterol: 70mg

To keep saturated fat to a minimum, try grilling trout or poaching it in a skillet with aromatic vegetables and broth. You can also use trout in salads, fish pies or en papillote (baked in parchment paper) with fresh herbs.


Nutrition profile per 100g (canned in oil)

Calories: 208
Protein: 24.6g
Saturated fat: 1.53g
Cholesterol: 142mg

Choose fresh canned sardines in oil or tomato sauce for a lower fat option. For a quick lunch, garnish whole grain toast with sardines in tomato sauce and serve with a green salad.

If using fresh sardines, try marinating them for 30 minutes in minced garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and paprika, then grill or bake them. Once cooked, they are served with chopped parsley and lemon wedges.


Nutrition profile per 100g (canned in oil)

Calories: 210
Protein: 28.9g
Saturated fat: 2.2g
Cholesterol: 85mg

A can of anchovies is a versatile ingredient that can be added to pizzas, salads and sauces, giving them a meaty umami flavor. Try adding anchovies to wholemeal bread with sliced ​​tomatoes and basil for an open sandwich, or include them in a pasta sauce made with tomatoes, garlic and olives.


People who want to manage their cholesterol or who have been diagnosed with high cholesterol by their doctor can include fish in their diet. Fish is low in saturated fat and experts recommend eating it regularly for heart health. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
To manage cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health, it is important to have a varied and balanced diet and to exercise regularly.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.