Health And Wellness

Which Foods Are Highest In Cholesterol

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Which Foods Are Highest In Cholesterol

When it comes to high cholesterol, it seems pretty simple: avoid the worst foods with the highest amounts of it.

But, medical studies on the effects of high cholesterol actually show that cholesterol is actually more complicated than that.

What are the worst foods for cholesterol?

It actually isn’t beneficial to avoid cholesterol entirely.

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Cholesterol, the waxy, fatty substance found in all cells, actually serves a lot of important functions in your body.

It makes hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and adrenaline, as well as helps your metabolism work more efficiently: cholesterol is essential for your body to produce vitamin D.

So actually, it is not so much about avoiding cholesterol entirely, but being smart about which foods you eat.

For example, eggs have high amounts of cholesterol but are a great source of absorbable protein.

They are also high in many great nutrients, such as vitamin B, A, and selenium, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risks of certain cancers.

High-cholesterol foods that you should actually avoid are ones that are high in LDL, or low-density lipoproteins.

All cholesterol is made of fats called lipoproteins: high-density lipoproteins, like the ones found in eggs, are easily digested and is a food that lowers cholesterol and helps remove excess cholesterol from your body.

Low-density lipoproteins, more popularly known as saturated fats, on the other hand, are hard to break down, cannot dissolve easily in blood, and so often lead to plaque build in the arteries.

Build up in the arteries leads to a number of heart complications; but more importantly, they are one of the leading causes of heart attacks, as blood cannot flow properly to your heart and other essential organs.

That is why it is important to eat well, but eat smart. You don’t need to completely skimp out on that eggs benedict when you are having brunch with your friends, but you should instead work to cut out LDL cholesterol from your life.

Here are some high-cholesterol foods you should avoid:

Worst foods highest in cholesterol — fried foods

This goes without saying, but fried foods are dangerously high with LDL cholesterol.

This is hard because especially in the U.S., it seems that anything that tastes good is fried.

French fries, fried chicken, and even fried Oreos (heavenly) are a mainstay in fast food, which makes them so tempting and hard to avoid.

But, deep frying not only dehydrates foods, but it makes food a sponge for sucking up bad fat.

They become high in calories, and even worse, high in trans fats, the worst kind of LDL cholesterol, as it is impossible to break down.

If fried foods are too heart-breaking to part with, one alternative is to eat foods that are instead fried in sunflower or olive oil.

These oils, while still not the pinnacle of health, are at least not associated with high rates of heart disease, as opposed to foods fried in butter or lard.

Worst foods highest in cholesterol — heavy creams

Non-fat-free dairy products like cream, butter, and full-fat ice cream.

Dairy products, that are not fat-free, are heavy in saturated fats. Dairy like full-fat ice cream, cheese, and whole milk often get overlooked in the conversations surrounding heart disease, and so is a sneaky source of bad cholesterol.

While medical studies on the link between high cholesterol and food have shown that whole-fat should not be completely stripped from our diets (and can even be beneficial toward lowering obesity rates), ice cream, cream, butter, and high-fat cheese should be avoided.

So instead, opt-out of full-fat dairy products, and instead be extra careful to pick fat-free dairy options at the grocery store.

Dairy, fat-free or not, is still the main source of calcium and vitamin D for most households; it would be irresponsible to cut it out completely, which is why it is more important to just be smart when making choices at the grocery store.

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Worst foods highest in cholesterol — hydrogenated oils

Hydrogenated oils are a high source of trans-fat, and are found in packaged or processed food like cookies, mayonnaise, coffee creamers, and frozen dinners. They are often cheap to buy and used by manufacturers to increase shelf life.

So even though many places have started tightening restrictions around hydrogenated oils, it can still be found in many food products.

It is important then to read food labels carefully: just because a product is labeled trans-fat free, doesn’t mean it is. Check the ingredients at the back, and any list that contains anything “hydrogenated” should be avoided.

Instead, limit TV dinners, and learn to make your own snacks. Use vegetable oil when cooking indulgent foods, as they can be just as easy to cook with in comparison to shortening or canola oil.

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Worst foods highest in cholesterol — meat, more importantly, processed and organ meats

When it comes to meat, people tend to believe the opposite of that one Animal Farm quote: “Four Legs... Bad, Two Legs... Good!” White meats like chicken and fish are often lower in cholesterol than heavy red meats like beef, pork, and lamb.

White meat, in general, is a leaner source of protein, with low-fat content in comparison to a cut of steak.

But, as it turns out, organ meats such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbread, no matter the animal, are much higher in cholesterol than other cuts of meat. This makes sense in context, as your own liver is responsible for producing and regulating cholesterol content in your blood.

While the American Heart Association no longer lists dietary cholesterol (cholesterol that comes from animals) as a primary concern for people, meat often gets overgeneralized in the discussion surrounding heart disease.

Meat should be enjoyed, just in moderation; it is especially important to differentiate between good meat and bad meat, processed and unprocessed meat. For example, unprocessed meats can be enjoyed in controlled amounts, but it is probably best to cut out heavy-fat, processed meats like bacon and sausage and replace high cholesterol foods with healthier alternatives.

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Jessica Xing is a writer who covers health, wellness, love, and relationships.