Although you need cholesterol to produce the hormones and Bile acids needed for digestion, high cholesterol significantly increases the risk of heart disease. More than 30% of Americans have high levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Your body synthesizes approximately 75% of your cholesterol level, the remaining 25% comes from foods of animal origin, including oysters.
Cholesterol in the middle of the shell
A three-ounce serving of cooked Pacific oysters contains 85 milligrams of cholesterol. This amount is 28% of the 300 milligrams of cholesterol that the American Heart Association recommends that a healthy adult should limit to each day. If you have high cholesterol or heart disease, you should not take more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol each day and a portion of Pacific oysters would satisfy 42% of that amount. Wild oysters or oriental oysters contain less cholesterol per serving: Oriental farmed oysters have 32 milligrams in every three ounces and eastern wild oysters have 53 milligrams.
Comparison to other foods
Pacific oysters contain both three ounce cholesterol (85 grams) and one serving of cooked swordfish, 85 grams of beef sirloin, three ounces of beef ribs and a cup of grated mozzarella or parmesan cheese. A portion of wild oysters or oriental oysters is similar in content of cholesterol to cooked pork loin, fish such as salmon or rainbow trout, ricotta cheese and mussels. All types of oysters contain less cholesterol per serving of seafood such as shrimp and lobster.
Oysters can be part of a healthy diet while you're careful to control your fat intake in addition to your cholesterol intake. A diet high in total fat, saturated fat, and trans fat can cause your cholesterol to rise, especially high LDL cholesterol. Oysters are low in total and saturated fat and do not contain any trans fats. A three-ounce serving of oysters meets the US Food and Drug Administration's guidelines for obtaining extra lean animal protein because they provide less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol, five grams of total fat and two grams of saturated fat per serving.
Preparation is the key
Oysters can be eaten raw or cooked, although to keep cholesterol and fat intake as low as possible, bake, broil or steamed instead of sautéing or fry them Choose low-fat condiments such as vinegar, hot sauce or lemon juice instead of butter or white sauce prepared from whole milk.If you buy canned oysters, carefully check the nutrition label, some commercial brands of smoked oysters packed in oil can contain as much as nine grams of fat and four grams of saturated fat per serving.