These foods are well-known for raising your “bad cholesterol” levels, also known as your LDL cholesterol levels. If you have high cholesterol, avoid these five foods.
In the United States, more than 90 million adults have high cholesterol according to the CDC, which means their blood fat levels are higher than 200 milligrams per deciliter (200 mg/dL). High cholesterol levels are dangerous because they increase your chances of heart attack or stroke.
If you have high cholesterol, which foods should you avoid? Red meat, fried foods, and baked goods are notorious for raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the sticky type that builds up in artery walls.
Causes of high cholesterol levels
High cholesterol is a leading cause of heart attacks and a risk factor for coronary heart disease according to the CDC.
This is largely due to the fact that high cholesterol results in atherosclerosis, or the narrowing of arteries. Plaques form in atherosclerosis, causing blood flow to be restricted.
Reduced saturated and/or trans fats intake in the diet can help to lower cholesterol levels. It’s especially beneficial to limit foods that contain:
- Cholesterol – Cholesterol is found in animal products such as meat and cheese
- Saturated fat – Meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried foods, and processed foods all contain saturated fat
- Trans fats – Trans fats can be found in fried and processed foods
Cholesterol-lowering medications come in a variety of forms. These include:
If you are looking to reduce your cholesterol levels, there are 5 food groups you can discuss with your doctor or nutritionist about cutting out of your diet.
1. Fatty cuts of red meat
Types of red meat to reduce in your diet or avoid include steaks with a lot of fat, pork, veal, and lamb.
Don’t want to give up meat entirely? Lean into white meat such as chicken and turkey instead. While white meat will still impact your cholesterol, studies have shown that the impact is less than red meat on average.
However, the best path forward for having the greatest impact on your cholesterol levels will be to reduce meat consumption altogether.
2. Processed meats
Processed meats are meats that have had their shelf-life extended through the process of smoking or salting.
Examples include deli ham, salami, pastrami, bologna, sausage, bacon, and other meats and foods.
While delicious, as a result of the additional salt and preservatives used to keep them fresh, this unfortunately makes them less heart healthy.
Rather than using processed meat, try these:
- Canned tuna
- Canned salmon
- Peanut butter
- Roasted chicken
- “In-store” roasted meat
- Egg salad
3. Fried foods
Fried foods are any foods that have been fried in oil to cook them quickly.
As a result of the frying process, trans fats are present. Cholesterol levels may be exacerbated, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Foods that are steamed, pan fried with nonstick spray, roasted, or grilled are excellent alternatives. If you enjoy deep-fried dishes, do so sometimes rather than every day.
Take the oil out of your food and choose these fried food alternatives instead:
- Steamed food
- Stir-fry food
- Sauté food
- Poached food
- Grilled food
- Broiled food
- Roasted food
- Baked food
4. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are most commonly found as ingredients in other foods.
Examples include margarine and shortening, which are often used as an ingredient in baked goods that are very processed, packaged, and sold. Trans fats are bad for your heart and your cholesterol levels. These oils contain trans fats.
Don’t want to lose all your favorite baked goods? Try replacing Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils with:
- Olive Oil
- Canola Oil
- Corn Oil
- Soy Oil
- Sunflower Oil
Diets that are high in sugar raise total cholesterol and also increase levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Sugar can be found in many items, including sweetened drinks, pastries, desserts, and processed foods that have been enhanced with high fructose corn syrup or other added sugar.
If you are looking to reduce the amount of sugar you consume, consider replacing foods and drinks you consume with the most sugar content. For example, you can swap sweetened sodas with sparkling water if you still want a carbonated beverage without the sugar. You can also swap out high fructose corn syrup in your baking with goods that have natural sugar substitutes.
Here are five natural sugar substitutes to consider:
- Maple syrup
- Date paste
- Coconut sugar
- Agave nectar
If changing your diet isn’t enough…
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs are Cheaper with NSURx
The costs of common cholesterol medications are not cheap – they can range from $29.95 to $500 USD out of pocket!
With the NSURx Prescription Benefit Card, you can save money on cholesterol prescription medications at over 35,000 pharmacies across the United States.
Using an NSURx card can save you up to 80% on the cost of your cholesterol medication.