Scallops Cholesterol

The Connection between Scallops and your Cholesterol

Some seafood lovers are sometimes alarmed when they find out the negative connection between scallops and your cholesterol.  It turns out that scallops are fairly high in cholesterol.  Before you cancel that trip to Red Lobster this weekend however, there are certain other aspects of scallops that you should consider.



Scallops are Low in Saturated Fat

Although it is true that scallops are high in cholesterol, they are very low in saturated fat.  Why is this important?  How does this change the connection between scallops and your cholesterol levels? 

In order for cholesterol to get stuck in your system, it must have a delivery device.  Cholesterol does not attach to your arteries by itself.  It requires a kind of glue—usually a saturated fat—in order to stick to your veins and be stored in your body.  The lack of fat in scallops means that most of the cholesterol you take in will pass through your system and leave you relatively unharmed.  Thus even though scallops are packed with cholesterol, the cholesterol goes right through you because it is not packaged in the right way to attach to your body.

Benefits of Scallops

In addition, like many kinds of fish, scallops really deliver on the Omega 3 fatty acids that have the opposite effect of cholesterol.  Omega 3’s actually help the body to prevent heart disease.  Thus, whatever cholesterol scallops deposit in your system, it makes up for it by counterbalancing it with Omega 3s.

Another reason why you should not worry about scallops and your cholesterol is that although scallops could, in theory deposit up to 50 milligrams of cholesterol to your body, the American Heart Association allows for up to 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day.  Thus, even if the scallops were to deliver their full punch or if you had more than one serving, you would still not be getting enough cholesterol to hurt a person with average amounts of cholesterol.

This fact may sound strange to you.  After all, why would scallops be mentioned in relation to high cholesterol if they are not that high in cholesterol?  The reason this fact about scallops is brought up, is not because scallops are so high in cholesterol, but because, relative to other forms of fish, they are high.  The other reason this is brought up is because those who already have high cholesterol may be trying to find foods that are far lower in cholesterol than most foods.  And, of course, a person will not only limit themselves to one meal per day, so if a person believes that scallops are low in cholesterol, they might match that with foods that are high in cholesterol in their own right and thus increase the damage to their bodies.

In addition, scallops also have many other beneficial ingredients.  Scallops are, for example, high in protein, which helps the body to build muscle.  They also have vitamin B-12, magnesium, and potassium.


If you are going to eat scallops, there are certain precautions you can take in order to keep your cholesterol levels down:

--Don’t eat red meat and other foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol with your scallops.

--Eat scallops in moderation—Oysters are actually lowest in cholesterol.  Be careful however with shrimp, which even has more cholesterol than scallops.

--Make scallops your high cholesterol meal for the day if you are prone to heart disease.  So long as you keep your cholesterol level low during your other meals, you are unlikely to exceed your cholesterol intake at dinner.

--Exercise more so that you improve your heart health.  (Always a good idea regardless.)