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11 High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid and Alternative Low Cholesterol Options

Come festive season and we live to eat! There is very little control over what goes inside our tummies during the festive season. But pause for a second and think if you are digging your own grave by consuming some cholesterol rich food. This article takes a look at a variety of high cholesterol foods you should definitely avoid.

Types of cholesterol

High-Density Cholesterol  (HDL)

HDL is the short form of high-density lipoprotein. HDL is good cholesterol. These type of cholesterol have a scavenging nature and they remove debris of bad cholesterol from the bloodstream.

Low-Density Cholesterol (LDL)

LDL is the short form of low-density lipoprotein. LDL is bad cholesterol. It can convert into plaque and clog the arteries. This increases the risk of heart diseases and strokes.

What’s High Cholesterol?

Cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is desirable for adults. Levels between 200 and 239 mg/dL are borderline high levels of cholesterol. A reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high cholesterol.

High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid

In order to maintain the optimal levels of cholesterol in your body, one must consume the right kind of food. The list below names the usual culprits which are responsible for high levels of cholesterol. Therefore, the consumption of these food items is best avoided.

1. Fried food

This features on top of the list. Fried food contains high levels of cholesterol. It is also loaded with extra calories and trans fats. Trans fat increases the chances of heart disease. It can also pose other health risks.

2. Desserts

While we might be tempted on gorge on the delicious cakes, ice creams, and pastries, be cautious that these food items are hotbeds of high cholesterol. These food items contain empty calories. It leads to weight gain and heart diseases.

3. Processed meat

Processed meat is the go-to option for many for a weeknight dinner. It is loaded with cholesterol. Excess consumption of processed meat is linked to a high risk of cardiovascular disease. So keep an eye on how much bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and salami do you consume during a week.

4. Alcohol

Alcohol is a tricky one. Hard liquor like whiskey and gin are virtually cholesterol free. But if you fall prey to the trap of consuming sugary cocktails, then it is an issue. These drinks are loaded with calories and can increase your cholesterol levels.

5. Organ meat

This is a favorite around the holiday season. But bear in mind that liver and sweetbreads contain almost 375 mg of cholesterol in a 3-ounce serving. So make sure that you consume organ meats in moderation.

6. Dairy

Dairy is another culprit behind high cholesterol levels. The ideal alternative to dairy is plant-based or nut-based milk. But if you still want to consume dairy, then make sure that you switch to fat-free/low cholesterol versions to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

7. Oils

You should be careful about the cooking oil that you are using. If the labels read ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils, then it would be advisable to not consume these oils. These oils contribute to high cholesterol levels.

8. Whole eggs

While egg whites are an excellent source of protein and should be a part of your daily diet, egg yolk is responsible for high cholesterol levels in your body. Therefore, if you are prone to high cholesterol levels, it is best to avoid egg yolks. But do not make the mistake of eliminating of eggs from your diet entirely.

9. Lamb

Who doesn’t like a nice lamb roast? But have you thought of the cholesterol levels associated with lamb meat? Lamb is a source of saturated fat. Saturated fatty acids are responsible for raising the levels of bad cholesterol in your body. Ensure that you are not consuming lamb meat on a daily basis. If you still feel like consuming meat, include more lean meats in your diet.

10. Fatty beef

Fatty beef contains saturated fats. Saturated fats are responsible for increased cholesterol levels. If you want to consume beef, go for lean cuts of beef as well.

11. Lard

While this still remains open to several debates, lards do contain a high amount of saturated fats and can raise your cholesterol levels. If you must consume lard, make sure that you do so in moderation.

Alternative food items for maintaining the right levels of cholesterol

You are perhaps wondering what to consume to keep your cholesterol levels in check since a lot of components of your daily diet are culprits behind high cholesterol levels. But don’t worry – there is a customized “low cholesterol diet plan” just for you which can help you keep the levels in check. In addition to the diet plan, here’s a list of food items you must include in your diet to keep your cholesterol levels within the normal range:

1. Oats 

A bowl of oatmeal can be your heart’s best friend. It is extremely rich in fiber which makes it an ideal candidate for lowering your cholesterol levels. It is a perfect low cholesterol breakfast.

2. Beans

Beans are another excellent option when it comes to reducing your cholesterol levels. Since they are rich in soluble fiber, beans promote the good cholesterol in your body and cut down the bad ones.

3. Soy

Whether consumed as soybean or as soy milk, soy is an excellent source of protein as well your best friend to reduce high cholesterol levels. Make sure that you include soy in your diet on a regular basis.

4. Apples and strawberries

These fruits are rich in pectin. Pectin helps to lower the cholesterol level in the body. So indulge in as many apples and as many helpings of fresh strawberries, as your heart desires!

5. Fatty fish

Consumption of fatty fish is extremely essential if you are looking to reduce your cholesterol levels. These fishes are rich in Omega 3 which helps to combat the bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. Make sure that you consume such fish at least twice a week to reap the complete benefits.

6. Nuts

Gorge on nuts when you have snacking urges. Nuts are an excellent way to bring your cholesterol levels under control. Additionally, they also have nutrients which are helpful in the protection of the heart. You can choose from a variety of nuts available such as macadamia, foxnuts, and almonds.

7. Avocado

Avocado on toast is just not delicious but also extremely dense with nutrients. Avocado contains monosaturated fats and fiber which helps in lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream.

8. Chocolate

You might be surprised to read this but cocoa can be actually helpful in reducing the cholesterol levels! Consumption of dark chocolate can play a significant role in reducing your bad cholesterol levels.

9. Garlic

Garlic is rich in a compound called allicin. This lends garlic the ability to lower the levels of LDL cholesterol in the body. Regular consumption of one pod of garlic has several health benefits associated with it.

10. Vegetables

Consumption of any vegetable, especially leafy green vegetables will help you load up the right nutrients. It will also help in lowering the cholesterol levels in the body since vegetables are rich in fiber and antioxidants. Ensure that your meals contain an ample amount of vegetables!

11. Green tea

Green tea can also be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels. This can be attributed to the presence of compounds called catechins and quercetins in green tea. These compounds lower the levels of LDL cholesterol.