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Foods most harmful to your cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells of your body. Your body needs some cholesterol to produce hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help it digest food. The body produces all the cholesterol it needs. Cholesterol is also found in foods of animal origin, such as egg yolks, meat and cheese.

If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, it can combine with other substances in your blood to form plaque. Plaque sticks to the walls of your blood vessels. This accumulation is called arteriosclerosis. May cause coronary artery disease, which can narrow or even block them.

Cholesterol indicators

Cholesterol occurs in different types of protein-containing particles, including high-density lipoproteins (HDL), low-density lipoproteins (LDL), and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). The cholesterol theory of heart disease is that certain particles, such as LDL and VLDL, build up and clog the arteries, causing atherosclerosis.

Most experts have shied away from using total cholesterol as an indicator of heart health, after researchers found that one form, HDL, might actually be protective. At that time, LDL cholesterol became the indicator to watch, although some doctors test for all non-HDL cholesterol, including both LDL and VLDL.

Some cardiologists ask that another marker be tested: a blood protein known as apolipoprotein B (apoB). ApoB provides a direct measure of cholesterol-bearing particles.

Avoid these foods if you have high cholesterol

You may be surprised to know that half of all heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol. A groundbreaking 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at ten thousand people who had suffered heart attacks and saw elevated blood levels of a protein associated with inflammation: C-reactive protein, or CRP.

Some were given an anti-inflammatory and others a placebo; the anti-inflammatory group experienced 37% less inflammation and 15% fewer cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks) compared to the placebo group.


Public enemy number one turns out to be sugar: It may be even worse than saturated fat at raising cholesterol and overall heart disease risk, according to research in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

According to research published in JAMA, a diet high in sugar, and sweetened beverages like soda are a major source, increases bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides (another type of fat in the blood), while lowering blood sugar levels. good HDL cholesterol.

Add these sweet drinks to your list of foods to avoid if you're worried about high cholesterol.

Processed red meat

One of the foods to avoid with high cholesterol is meat. However, you may not realize that your body needs some cholesterol: it's used to build crucial cells and hormones. According to research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Lean, unprocessed red meat, when eaten as part of a Mediterranean-style diet, can improve heart health .

Trans fat

“Man-made trans fatty acids raise cholesterol and independently contribute to heart disease risks,” Spano says. And although many manufacturers have eliminated, or are in the process of eliminating, trans fats, they still appear in a surprising number of foods with bad cholesterol: prepackaged baked goods, desserts, and even some types of chocolate.

Read labels and avoid anything that contains partially hydrogenated oils among the ingredients , says Spano.

Fried food

The oils used to fry foods are often high in unhealthy fats, and food chemistry research has found that Cooking foods in these oils at high temperatures induces chemical reactions that increase the formation of trans fats .

These fried foods to avoid with high cholesterol also tend to be unhealthy or greasy to begin with; Think fried chicken, fried mozzarella sticks, and donuts, for example, making them a double threat.

White bread, rice and pasta

When you eat simple carbohydrates without fiber, your body breaks them down like sugar and, as a result, increases inflammation and LDL cholesterol. Overeating refined carbohydrates like white rice, white flour pasta, and white bread can have the same effect on your body as drinking soda , says New York-based dietitian Amy Shapiro.

Some cereals for breakfast

Not only are most cereals made from refined carbohydrates, but breakfast cereals also tend to contain added sugars, Spano warns. In a Plos Biology study, people who had healthy blood sugar levels entered prediabetic and diabetic levels after eating a bowl of cereal with milk.

Other research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology points to sugar as the main cause of fatty liver disease, which increases the risk of heart attack. Eating too much added sugar and starch over time can also raise blood pressure, increase chronic inflammation, and lead to high triglycerides, low HDL, and high amounts of VLDL.

Unsweetened oats (look for steel-cut or slow-cooked types that can sweeten naturally) are a heart-healthier option, thanks to all the fiber they offer.

Fast food

While it generally lacks nutrients and isn't good for you, fast food can have an especially insidious effect on cholesterol. A 2017 study in Archives of Disease in Childhood found that People who ate fast food more than once a week had an increase in LDL and total cholesterol compared to the levels of people who rarely ate it .

The study authors said that in the long term, elevated levels of LDL and total cholesterol could increase the study subjects' risk of coronary artery disease by 10 percent.

Salt is also abundant in fast food and raises blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease. And if fast food includes a soda, it's a triple whammy of foods to avoid with high cholesterol, since consuming too much sugar can cause obesity and the risk of heart disease increases as weight and waist circumference increase. the waist.

Bottled Salad Dressings

Salads are supposed to be healthy, but they are on the list of high cholesterol foods to avoid if you drizzle them with a commercial salad dressing. Most contain a surprising amount of added sugar, Spano says.

In fact, when consumer group Label Insight crunched the numbers, they found that 91 percent of the more than 4,200 dressings in their database contained added sugars; Worse yet, a single two-tablespoon serving could exceed daily sugar limits. Stick with oil and vinegar or a homemade dressing.


While it is not yet known how much effect foods have on cholesterol levels, it is especially true for dairy products. Some research indicates that things like aged cheddar cheese and yogurt, even though they are whole fats, have little or no effect on blood cholesterol, Spano says.

In general, it is okay to consume these foods in moderation. As always, try to include more plant-based and less processed foods in your diet on a regular basis, an hands-down winning dietary strategy. Your heart will thank you, says Spano.

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