I’m having trouble deciding between chicken and turkey as the best protein for my salads. Or would tuna be better? I know hard-boiled eggs are a good alternative, but I have a history of high cholesterol. 

When it comes to protein toppings for salads, there’s a long list of options. The best protein to add to your salad is the one that will satisfy your appetite and contribute to a balanced diet. That said, let’s compare the nutritional values of a three ounce serving of roasted chicken breast to the same size serving of roasted turkey breast (source: USDA) — chicken has 25g of protein and turkey, 24g; chicken has 170 calories and turkey has 160 calories; total fat in chicken is 7g and turkey is 6g; saturated fat content in chicken is 2g and turkey is 2g. Sodium in chicken is 60mg and turkey is 55mg; and cholesterol in chicken is 70mg and turkey is 60mg. As you can see, these two options are pretty similar in nutrient values. 

Tuna has less calories and fat than chicken, and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it has less protein. Hard-boiled eggs do contain dietary cholesterol, but to keep cholesterol ratios healthy you need to limit foods high in saturated fat and trans fat. Popular salad additions such as beans, nuts and some grains are also great sources of protein. How about using hummus, cottage cheese, or a yogurt-based dressing?

I quite often indulge in seafood, particularly shellfish. Does it contain huge amounts of cholesterol?

We’re all aware of the good stuff in seafood. The cholesterol levels in most shellfish are comparable to those in beef and poultry. But, unlike other meat, shellfish have low levels of saturated fat. This is critical for heart disease prevention because too much saturated fat can increase your low-density lipoproteins (LDL) which in higher amounts narrow your arteries over time. So, to compare the cholesterol in shellfish let’s consider three and a half ounces of the common types (source: UCSF) — oysters: 55mg; crab: 52mg; lobster: 71mg; and shrimp: 194mg.

Health experts recommend that people should consume no more than 200mg of any type of cholesterol in a day. 

If you’re trying to avoid adding more cholesterol to your diet, you might also consider how you cook your shellfish. To prepare it without adding cholesterol to the dish, you may want to: broil, steam, or bake shellfish; pan-fry it in a small amount of vegetable oil or garnish with lemon. As long as you stay conscious of portion size and maintain an otherwise balanced eating plan, shellfish can easily be incorporated into a heart healthy diet.