Which Seafood Is Highest in Cholesterol?

Medically Reviewed on 12/21/2021
is squid rich in cholesterol?
Squid contains the highest amount of cholesterol per unit weight among various seafood.

Squid contains the highest amount of cholesterol per unit weight among various seafood.

  • A 3.5 oz serving (about 99 grams) of raw squid provides about 231 mg of cholesterol.
  • This may exceed your daily dietary cholesterol limits if your doctor has advised you on a low cholesterol diet (containing less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day). 
  • Moreover, the preparation style (frying, sauteing, or grilling) may further determine the total cholesterol levels per portion.

Besides squid, shrimp is quite high in cholesterol. A 3.5 oz portion of raw shrimp provides 194 mg of cholesterol. This may further increase depending on the method of cooking.

Table 1. Cholesterol and total fat content of some of the seafood
Seafood (raw, 3.5 oz portions) Total cholesterol (mg) Total fat (grams)
Squid 231 1
Shrimp 194 1
Lobster 71 1
Salmon 63 12
Oysters 55 2
Crab 52 1
Halibut 41 3
Tuna 30 1

Interestingly, seafood when consumed in moderation is good for your heart, nerves, brain, and blood cholesterol levels.

  • Seafood contains various antioxidants and omega-3 fats that help reduce blood cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health.
  • To gain maximum benefit, seafood must be cooked with minimal salt and oils or other fats.

Deep frying can add unhealthy calories to your food, thereby increasing the risk of diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Prefer sauteing, roasting, steaming, and grilling over deep frying.

How many servings of seafood can you have in a day?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends having two servings of fish per week. One serving is three ounces of cooked fish or about three-fourth cup of flaked fish.

The AHA recommends preferring fatty fish, such as salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, black cod, mackerel, whitefish, bluefin tuna, and striped bass because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are good for your heart, brain, and overall health.

According to the dietary guidelines for Americans, adults consuming about 2000 calories a day should have at least eight ounces of fish per week. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can consume two to three servings (four-ounce each) of low-mercury seafood per week.

Children must particularly be given fish that have lower amounts of mercury.

Table 2. Dietary requirements for seafood in children according to age
Child’s age Quantity of seafood to be consumed per week (ounce)
2 to 3 years 1
4 to 7 years 2
8 to 10 years 3
11 years and older 4

19 seafood that are low in mercury

The amounts of mercury present in fish largely depend on the mercury levels in the water bodies they are present in. Thus, fish procured from water bodies whose mercury levels are kept under check are safer to eat.

Some of the seafood that generally contains lower mercury levels include:

  1. Tuna
  2. Salmon
  3. Trout
  4. Herring
  5. Anchovies
  6. Atlantic mackerel
  7. Clams
  8. Crab
  9. Oysters
  10. Catfish
  11. Crawfish
  12. Flounder
  13. Scallops
  14. Haddock
  15. Mullet
  16. Squid
  17. Shrimp
  18. Shad
  19. Tilapia

7 seafood that are high in mercury

Fish tend to accumulate mercury when grown in water bodies with high mercury levels.

  • The mercury in the water bodies is further changed to an even more harmful compound called methylmercury due to bacterial action.
  • Fish that survive longer or consume other fish tend to accumulate higher levels of methylmercury. Hence, such fish must be avoided, particularly for children and pregnant women.

Some of the seafood that may have high mercury levels include:

  1. Shark
  2. Swordfish
  3. Marlin
  4. Tilefish
  5. King mackerel
  6. Orange roughy
  7. Bigeye and bluefin tuna


How to Lower Your Cholesterol & Save Your Heart See Slideshow
Medically Reviewed on 12/21/2021
Image Source: iStock Images

US Food and Drug Administration. Advice about Eating Fish. https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish#note3

American Heart Association. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/fish-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

The University of California. Cholesterol Content of Foods. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/cholesterol-content-of-foods