No one wants to hear from their doctor that they have high cholesterol, but unfortunately this is a common problem in the United States. While a healthy amount of cholesterol in the body is necessary for making cells, too much of it can lead to blood clots in your arteries, eventually leading to a stroke or heart disease for some.
So what causes high cholesterol and how can we lower it? There are many factors that contribute to a spike in cholesterol levels, including smoking, carrying extra weight, lack of exercise and poor diet.
To learn more about the ways a poor diet can raise cholesterol levels, we talked to a few expert dietitians about the eating habits that secretly raise your levels. Read on and for more healthy eating tips, check out the best breakfast habits for high blood pressure.
A diet with more red meat is known to increase the risk of high cholesterol. This is mainly due to the saturated fat content.
“Heart disease and obesity are the main diseases associated with a diet high in red meat. This is due to the meat’s high saturated fat content, leading to an increase in cholesterol and artery blockages along with triglycerides. Reducing or significantly reducing of saturated fat in your diet is a change that can help improve heart health,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements.
Many people may not realize this, but a crash diet or other unhealthy diet can cause problems with your health and cholesterol levels.
“A lesser-known habit known to affect cholesterol is weight cycling. Specifically, weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) has been linked to lower HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol) and higher LDL (the ‘bad’ cholesterol). .) It should be borne in mind that all extreme methods of weight loss can be more harmful to cholesterol than actually staying at a weight that is higher (and perhaps) more comfortable for one’s body. What can we do instead? restrictive dieting” , say Rachel Fine, RDN and founder of To The Pointe Nutrition.
Fried foods are delicious, and often one of the more convenient options is to drive into the drive-thru for a fast food lunch. However, it can negatively affect your cholesterol.
“It is important to avoid or limit fried foods. These foods are high in cholesterol and should be avoided whenever possible, especially since the hydrogenated oil used for frying these foods contains bad fats that tend to make bad ( LDL) raise cholesterol in the body,” says Beth Hawkes, RDN, a registered dietitian and owner of Nurse Code.
If you are someone who watches your cholesterol, you may want to lower your added sugar intake. But regardless of your cholesterol level, most Americans eat too much added sugar on a daily basis.
“It is also important to limit sugary treats. Ice cream and pastries, such as cakes, pastries and cookies, contain added sugars, and there is a link between added sugars and elevated LDL (bad cholesterol). Added sugars also lower levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and elevation of triglycerides in your body. These sweet treats, along with soft drinks and canned juices, are also associated with weight gain, which can ultimately increase cholesterol levels in your body,” says Hawkes.
Finally, if you can avoid or limit your consumption of prepackaged foods, you may be able to help control your cholesterol levels.
“These foods can raise cholesterol because these foods are low in fiber, often have a very saturated (and environmentally harmful fat) palm oil (or derivative), and are low in healthy nutrients, causing inflammation and likely raising cholesterol,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD a registered dietitian and author of: Recipe for survival.
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha