Cholesterol in Chicken – Why Chicken Meat May Not Be Your First Choice!

Cholesterol in Chicken

In terms of heart healthy meats, it seems that few choices stack up to chicken (boneless, skinless white breast meat that is). However, not everything about the cholesterol in chicken is as rosy at it appears. And it is possible that the Thanksgiving delight, turkey, may in fact be a superior poultry option for those with moderate to elevated levels of cholesterol. So why and how is this when both bird types are considered better options in terms of cholesterol than other meats and shellfish? Well, it is all about the nutritional content, and from a bits and pieces perspective, turkey just comes out on top over chicken (and you may be surprised about seafood too!)

From an apples to apples standpoint in terms of cholesterol content, turkey is a hands down winner when compared to chicken breast. The cholesterol in chicken per eight ounces equals around 140 milligrams, compared to turkey’s 97 for the same serving size, according to But, aside from this difference alone, there are other less direct but still important reasons why turkey may be a better protein choice for people with high cholesterol. Granted, the amount of cholesterol in meat at face value is very important, but it is certainly not the only part of a food’s nutritional makeup that can impact LDL cholesterol numbers.

The Harvard School of Public Health stresses that while cholesterol intake in itself is important, the amount of fat being taken in as well as the type of fat is even more important to controlling high cholesterol. If we compare turkey to chicken, we can see how far superior a choice the gobbler is in terms of fat content. Not only is turkey less fat filled than chicken breast is, but it is also lower in saturated fat as well. points out that turkey contains 20% less fat than chicken, and is lower in saturated fat as well (containing almost none). While this fact may seem less related to LDL levels than the actual amount of cholesterol in chicken and turkey, it is actually possible that their fat contents are even more relevant than the amount of cholesterol they contain.

This similarity can be transferred to shrimp as well. Shrimp has gotten an even worse rap sheet for lipid levels than that related to the cholesterol in eggs or red meat. But, is it well deserved? Is it possible that shrimp may even be a better alternative than chicken breast? The jury is still out on that one, but the World’s Healthiest Foods makes an excellent case for the hard shelled heart foe, claiming that while shrimp may make the cholesterol in fish look insignificant due to its high concentration, there may be some heart healthy benefits to shrimp. Just four shrimp can equate to over 200 milligrams of cholesterol, which exceeds to recommended intake daily for those with elevated lipids. However, some interesting facts about shrimp may make it worth including in moderation in a cholesterol diet. As pointed out by the World’s Healthiest foods, shrimp’s sterol content is not all cholesterol, but also heart healthy LDL fighters like beta-sisterol and campesterol. In addition to this, there is almost no saturated fat in shrimp, unlike chicken, and the bad fat may just play a bigger role in LDL levels than the cholesterol in chicken every thought about playing.

Chicken is popular because of its versatility, a characteristic turkey sort of shares, but sort of does not. And, chicken can be paired with all sorts of heart healthy fare like ginger. It is thought that additional LDL lowering benefits can come from natural ingredients like ginger, and chicken makes an excellent vehicle for many of them, including garlic and turmeric.

In fact, low cholesterol chicken recipes are some of the most common fare for those with high cholesterol, because chicken tends to make a better protein choice than many red meats and the majority of seafood. Thus, for those who are able to enjoy meats as part of a cholesterol diet, boneless and skinless chicken breast often fits the bill because of the array of dishes that be designed around the lean meat.

But, just like the amount of cholesterol in chicken is not the only factor to whether or not selecting it as a protein will have a big impact on LDL levels, diet alone is also not the only factor that contributes to normal cholesterol values. The removal of hazardous lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive drinking combine with an increase in physical activity and exercise are just as if not more so important than a diet and recipes to lower cholesterol. When combined with regular exercise, dietary changes like limiting cholesterol intake can contribute to normal cholesterol values; however, these dietary modifications need to be paired with common sense strategies like reducing saturated fat intake and increasing natural sources of LDL lowering compounds instead of focusing solely on food elimination.