Nearly 94 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol – meaning they have total cholesterol levels above 200 mg/dL. And even worse, 28 million adults in the United States have total cholesterol levels above 240 mg/dL. High cholesterol is a serious condition. One that can double your risk of heart disease.
Many factors, including genetics and lifestyle, can play a role in the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Although you can’t control genetics, you have complete control over lifestyle factors, one of which is your diet. So yes, what you eat can directly affect the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
The Good and the Bad
Certain foods, such as oats, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish, can help to keep your cholesterol at a healthy level by lowering the bad cholesterol in your blood. But along with the good foods for your cholesterol, there are also foods that you should avoid. For example, foods high in saturated fats tend to cause your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) level to rise higher than normal. Here are four high-cholesterol foods you should avoid.
- Red Meat – Steak, beef roast, ribs, pork chops, lamb, and ground beef tend to have high saturated fat and cholesterol content. You don’t have to avoid all red meat. Just try to limit how often you eat it. And when possible, opt for lean, low-fat meats, such as skinless chicken, turkey breast, and fish.
- Full-fat Dairy – Although the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends that American adults consume dairy foods daily, you should avoid full-fat dairy, such as whole milk, butter, and full-fat yogurt and cheese. All of which are high in saturated fat. Instead, choose low-fat or fat-free varieties and use extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter.
- Fried Foods – Foods that have been deep-fried in oil, like French fries and chicken wings, are among the worst high-cholesterol foods. This is because they are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. Baked foods are a far better and healthier option. And if you’re really craving that crunch, try using an air fryer to “fry” your food. Air fryers use convection heat to cook foods. This makes it where food is browned and crispy on the outside but remains moist and tender on the inside.
- Baked Goods – There’s a reason baked goods taste so good. And that’s because of the large amounts of butter and shortening. Cookies, cakes, and doughnuts are not only high in saturated fats, but they’re also full of sugar. Instead of buying prepackaged or premade desserts, try making your own where you have control over the fat and sugar. This allows you to make healthy adjustments, such as using applesauce or bananas in place of butter and eggs when you’re baking.