High cholesterol levels are concerning because they put you at higher risk for heart diseases, including heart attack and stroke. Eating fatty fish, nuts, and whole grains like oatmeal can help keep your cholesterol levels in check.
However, some foods, primarily those high in saturated fat, can raise bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. So whether you have high cholesterol or are currently at an ideal range, it’s worth following healthy dietary choices as a preventive measure.
High Cholesterol – An Overview
Cholesterol is a lipid, a substance like fat that the liver produces naturally. It is necessary for forming cell membranes, certain hormones, and vitamin D.
High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), also known as “good” cholesterol, pick up extra cholesterol in the blood and take it back to the liver. This action helps prevent cholesterol plaque from building up in arteries. When you have healthy or optimal HDL cholesterol levels, it can help lower the risk of blood clots, heart disease, or even a stroke.
On the other hand, Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) or the “bad” cholesterol, build up in the artery walls and make them hard and narrow. As a result, your body contains too much LDL cholesterol when referring to high cholesterol. Therefore, it’s advisable to control cholesterol levels for better functioning of your body and heart.
Those who wish to manage cholesterol should avoid eating high saturated fat or high cholesterol foods. Instead, switch to healthy fats and oils to keep your LDL cholesterol in check.
Worst Foods for High Cholesterol Level
A cholesterol-friendly diet must include foods that boost HDL while lowering LDL cholesterol levels. Fat content in your foods is a primary category to focus on since excess fat consumption raises triglyceride and LDL levels, especially when you don’t manage it with exercise. In addition, it is also essential to understand the food source of fat.
This is because some foods that are high in cholesterol also tend to be high in healthy fats that help decrease LDL cholesterol in the body.
For example, eggs are high in cholesterol but offer protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients. Therefore, some fats, such as monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, are suitable for cholesterol.
Food Components to Avoid
You should avoid foods that contain the following components:
Saturated fats are found primarily in red meat and dairy products. These types of fats cause the liver to make more of the “bad” cholesterol. A study shows that reducing the amount of saturated fat you eat can reduce total cholesterol levels.
Trans fats are generally solid vegetable oils. Manufacturers produce these in a process called hydrogenation. They are usually found in fried foods, baked, and processed foods. Trans fat can lower HDL and raise LDL cholesterol.
Foods to Avoid
Here are some worst foods for high cholesterol:
People with high cholesterol must avoid foods made of refined flour such as white bread since it contains refined carbohydrates. Instead, choose fibre-rich foods like whole-grain bread.
Simple carbohydrates do not have enough fibre. So, your body breaks them down just like sugar, causing inflammation and LDL cholesterol to rise. In addition to white bread, you must avoid overeating white-flour pasta, biscuits and other items that contain white flour.
Fried foods are often cooked using oils that are high in unhealthy fats. Frying food in these oils at high temperatures increases the formation of trans fats and calorie counts, making them a double threat.
Deep-fried foods like chicken wings, doughnuts, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks are among the worst foods with respect to cholesterol levels.
One of the foods to avoid in order to manage high cholesterol is processed red meat. However, eating lean and unprocessed red meat as a part of a heart-healthy diet, like a Mediterranean-style eating pattern, may be beneficial.
But red meats like beef, pork, and lamb or cut meats in hamburgers, pork chops, and roasts are generally high in saturated fat. Therefore, overweight or moderately obese people with high cholesterol could benefit from avoiding processed red meats.
Aerated drinks or sodas are high in sugar, making them worse than saturated fat. Regular or sweetened soda contains added sugars, which increase bad cholesterol and triglycerides while reducing levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Prepackaged baked goods and desserts contain partially hydrogenated oils, among other ingredients. The trans fats in partially hydrogenated oils are manufactured trans fatty acids, independently contributing to high cholesterol. In addition, cookies, cakes, pastries, and even some chocolate contain large quantities of butter and shortening.
The HealthifyMe Note
People with high cholesterol must limit or avoid excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils, trans fats, and saturated fats. In addition, red meat, fried foods, processed meals, and baked goods increase the risk of further increasing your LDL cholesterol. Always choose unsaturated fats in limited amounts, along with complex carbohydrates, whole grains, lean meat, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds to keep your cholesterol under control.
Include more plant-based and less processed foods in your diet. When managing high cholesterol, you must avoid foods high in saturated fat, like fried foods, bacon and other fatty meats. Foods with trans fats also raise your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol. Therefore, choose foods that reduce your LDL but improve your HDL.
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