Foods to Avoid With High Cholesterol
Cholesterol gets a bad rep, and it is not entirely uncalled for. While cholesterol is necessary for your body to function normally, it can also cause some serious health problems. When it comes to the human body, moderation is key. So, what’s the deal with cholesterol?
Perhaps you have recently found out you have high cholesterol and you are looking to improve these numbers. In this article, we explore what exactly cholesterol is, why high cholesterol levels are dangerous, how your diet impacts your cholesterol and what foods to avoid with high cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy and fat-like substance called a lipid. Surprisingly, your liver produces cholesterol naturally. In truth, cholesterol plays an important role in the development of cell membranes, the creation of vitamin D and the production of certain hormones. Without it, you would experience various bodily dysfunctions and situations of ill health. So, why is cholesterol often viewed as bad when it comes to your health?
Cholesterol cannot simply travel through your body within your blood on its own. It needs help to do so, and this help comes in the form of lipoproteins. There are two types of lipoproteins called high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL). When your blood tests come back showing that you have high amounts of LDLs, this means you have high cholesterol circulating within your body.
Why Is High Cholesterol Dangerous?
Generally, high cholesterol may increase your risk of heart disease. When high amounts of LDLs and cholesterol circulate throughout your body, they can leave fatty deposits along your blood vessels. Fatty deposits cause more fatty deposits. In turn, this causes a narrowing of the affected blood vessels and potentially even blockages.
As a result, your blood will have trouble flowing through these areas, which can lead to many issues. If an area is not receiving proper blood flow including nutrients and oxygen, it will suffer. Further, if these fatty deposits break off and end up in your heart or brain, you may experience a heart attack or stroke.
When it comes down to it, high cholesterol is something you want to get under control as soon as possible. But before we dive into what foods to avoid with high cholesterol, let’s assess how your diet impacts your cholesterol levels.
Your Diet and Your Cholesterol Levels
High-cholesterol foods may lead to higher cholesterol levels in your body. While a healthy body may be able to adjust accordingly to a higher cholesterol intake, a less healthy body may accumulate this cholesterol in the blood.
Research has shown that those who ate less cholesterol had a lower risk of heart disease. Yet, at the same time, other studies have failed to provide sufficient evidence indicating that cholesterol within the diet leads to an increased heart disease risk.
Generally, most experts suggest lowering your saturated fat intake to manage your cholesterol levels. Specifically, this includes foods containing animal products, and pre-packaged and processed cookies, crackers, and popcorn. Further, red meat and full-fat dairy products may be linked to higher cholesterol rates.
Foods to Avoid With High Cholesterol
If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, it is recommended to limit or avoid:
- Fatty beef
- Whole or reduced-fat milk
- Vegetable oils
- Pre-packaged cookies, crackers, chips, donuts and pastries
- Commercially fried foods and fast food
- Pre-packaged frosting
- Buttered popcorn
- Red meat
Although it may seem like you are very restricted when it comes to your diet, you have an abundant amount of food choices. Keep reading to find out what you can eat with high cholesterol. It’s entirely possible to continue enjoying lots of delicious foods and meals.
Stay Away From Caffeine and Energy Drinks
Caffeine and energy drinks, often consumed to boost energy and stay alert, can have detrimental effects on your cholesterol levels. While caffeine itself doesn't directly impact cholesterol, many energy drinks contain high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners and unhealthy fats that contribute to increased cholesterol levels. Excessive consumption of these drinks can lead to weight gain, obesity and an unhealthy lipid profile, indicated by elevated LDL levels (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, commonly known as "bad" cholesterol.
Foods to Eat With High Cholesterol
Many foods can help lower and manage cholesterol levels. It’s also important to note that going completely fat-free is harmful and is not recommended. Instead, go for healthy fats and enjoy them in moderation. We’ve added useful tips to help you make the best food choices for your health.
Consume More High Fiber Foods
Fiber is important for good digestion and regulation of blood sugar levels. Soluble fiber also binds to cholesterol, which can help your body excrete it properly. Healthy fiber food choices:
- Fruit, such as oranges and blueberries.
- Brussel Sprouts.
Make More Meals at Home
Cooking provides you with a surefire way to avoid heavily processed foods containing chemicals and other additives that may interfere with your health. When you cook at home, you get to determine what goes into the food you eat. And you can make this fun! Try new recipes and prep new meals. Maybe you will discover a new favorite go-to.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can increase your chances of developing or maintaining high cholesterol levels. By losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, you can set yourself up for success, especially when it comes to your health.
The news is in, Physical activity is the new miracle drug for good health. The body is made to move. Most experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. This equates to only 30 minutes a day. Get moving.
That’s right, high cholesterol is another reason to quit smoking. Smoking increases your odds of developing heart disease. It may even reduce your HDLs, which are known as the “good” cholesterol.
Take Care of Your Health
In the end, it all comes down to taking care of your health and your body. You only get one, so it is good to invest the time to learn how you can improve your health and your body’s function.
High cholesterol levels often indicate that you may be doing something wrong, whether it is your lifestyle choices, habits, diet, or physical activity levels. Take a step back and examine your life. You need to determine what things you can do to improve it, and then start taking those first steps. It’s never too late to get back on track.
- Mayo Clinic (High cholesterol)
- Healthline (Everything You Need to Know About High Cholesterol)
- ScienceDaily (Higher egg and cholesterol consumption hikes heart disease and early death risk)
- Nutrients (Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease)
- Heart and Stroke (Managing cholesterol)