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Which foods cause high cholesterol?


Welcome to another edition of MedChunk’s Health Bulletin where we strive to make health topics easy to understand. In today’s edition, we’ll take a look at some of the foods that can cause high cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in all of your cells. According to the lipid hypothesis, elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood lead to atherosclerosis which may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease. Cholesterol is made mainly in the liver.

Some foods contain cholesterol, but surprisingly they don’t make a big difference to the cholesterol in your blood that’s because most of us eat less than 250mg of cholesterol per day.

Cholesterol is found in animal foods such as eggs, shellfish, meat, and dairy products. Since all animal cells manufacture cholesterol, all animal-based foods contain cholesterol in varying amounts.

It’s worth noting that the thinking has changed about what increases cholesterol in the body. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that Americans eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible, because most foods that are rich in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat.

For example, previous dietary guidelines recommended consuming no more than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day. But in 2015, those guidelines changed, and there is now no specific recommendation limiting the amount of cholesterol that should be consumed through food.

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Dietary cholesterol itself isn’t harmful and actually doesn’t contribute to increased levels of cholesterol in the body. Rather, the real culprits are saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars.

Why You Should Avoid Cholesterol

The American Heart Association recommends testing cholesterol every 4–6 years for people aged 20 years or older. Cholesterol circulates throughout the bloodstream, and too much of it can have negative effects on your body, especially your heart.

LDL particles are the major blood cholesterol carriers. High levels of “bad” cholesterol can raise your risk of heart disease or stroke. Too much LDL cholesterol in your system can form plaque, which is a buildup on the walls of the blood vessels.

This buildup narrows the blood vessels, which blocks the healthy flow of blood in the body and can potentially cause a heart attack or other problems. Consume less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day.

Foods rich in cholesterol :  

  •  Red meat.

You don’t have to avoid meat entirely, just eat it only on occasion. Limit yourself to the recommended 3-ounce portion size and stick to leaner cuts. Better yet, replace meat with proteins that are lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, like skinless chicken, fish, and beans. 

  • Foods that are deep fried 
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You’re at greater risk for high blood cholesterol and heart disease if you eat a diet that often includes deep-fried or breaded foods. Foods that have taken a dip in the deep fryer are among the worst when it comes to cholesterol. If you love the crunch of fried food, use an air fryer and toss your food in a little bit of olive oil. Olive oil is packed full of beneficial antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol while leaving your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched.

The cholesterol-lowering effects of olive oil are even greater if you choose extra-virgin olive oil, which means the oil is less processed and contains more heart-healthy antioxidants.

  • Processed meats

Processed meats tend to be high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Experts warn against the consumption of processed meat, especially for high-cholesterol patients. Processed meat products are highly appreciated by a large number of populations; however, they are rich in cholesterol, lipids, and saturated fats.

  • Baked goods. 
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Cookies, cakes, and pastries are often made with large quantities of butter and shortening, making them high in cholesterol. Baking your own foods is one way to help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check since you know exactly what you are adding to your foods. You don’t have to give up dessert entirely, just make a few substitutions. When you bake, use bananas in place of butter. Eat low-fat frozen yogurt topped with berries for dessert.

  • Sugar

Yes, it tastes so good. But too much might cause problems with weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes as well as cholesterol. A high level of glucose in the bloodstream is associated with a host of complications, including cholesterol abnormalities. Try to limit sugar. Avoid soda, sweet tea, candy, cakes, cookies, and ice cream, among others.

Foods high in saturated fats:

  • Biscuits
  • Pizza
  • Burger 
  • Coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Butter
  • Some types of cheese

Foods high in trans fats:

  • Biscuits and Cakes
  • Baked goods
  • Takeaway foods 
  • Butter
  • Foods that contain ‘hydrogenated oils’