Three tablespoons of roe has more than the daily limit set by American Heart Association Passing up a dish of royal crab this summer may well be worth more than saving the $450 price tag: it could spare you potential heart problems too, nutritionists have warned. The summer delicacy is known in Cantonese as wong yau, or 'yellow oil', referring to the eggs in mature females that have melted and spread throughout their shells. Just three tablespoonfuls of the roe contains 466mg of cholesterol - far more than the daily maximum of 300mg recommended by the American Heart Association. According to Department of Health officials Eliza Sha and Louise Kwong, the crabs are specially bred by local merchants, who put leave them in the sun to achieve the best results. They warned against excessive consumption of the delicacy, as a build-up of cholesterol in the bloodstream can lead to heart disease and even strokes. Priscilla Lau Li-yi, a registered nutritionist with Lifestyle Nutrition, said crab meat was generally safer if eaten steamed, baked or boiled. Three tablespoons of crab meat contains 34mg of cholesterol, about the same as two rashers of fried bacon. 'People with high cholesterol levels should avoid crab roe,' she said. The season for royal crabs begins after the Tuen Ng or Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for about two months. This year's Dragon Boat Festival fell on June 4. Not surprisingly, culinary experts tend to have a more sanguine view of the royal crab's cholesterol threat. 'They are delicious but you need to get the good ones, which are hard to find,' said Maria Cordeiro, popularly known as Fei Ma, who presents a TV cooking programme called Maria's Kitchen. Ms Cordeiro first tasted royal crabs when she was 12 years old with her father in Macau. 'They were very rare those days, but now they are quite common, which makes them less special and less tasty somehow,' she said. Thomas Ho Po-lung, a chef with Super Star Seafood Restaurant in Wan Chai who has been preparing crabs for more than 18 years, said steaming was the most popular method among diners as it preserved the flavour. 'Diners also like their crabs cooked with tofu, inside Shanghainese-style dumplings and with congee,' he said. Sandy Ki Yuk-fung of Old San Wang Company, which has been selling crabs for more than 40 years, said prices this year ranged from $88 to $488 per catty. 'With the best royal crabs, you can see the yellow oil oozing out from the joints of the crabs' legs and claws,' she said.