What foods cause high cholesterol?

Heather Georgoudiou March 27, 2019

If you’ve been told you have high cholesterol you may be wondering what foods you should be eating and which ones you should be avoiding. There are foods that are high in good cholesterol and then there are foods that cause high cholesterol, we’ll help you understand the difference.

First, what is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy-fat-like substance that’s in every cell in the body. Your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to create cell membranes and bile acids for digestion.

There is “good” heart healthy cholesterol that absorbs the extra cholesterol in your system and transports it to the liver where it’s flushed from the body. And then there is “bad” cholesterol that contributes to plaque buildup, which clogs your arteries and can increase your risk for heart attacks and strokes.

In the same way, there are foods that are high in good cholesterol that you should be eating more of and then there are foods that are high in bad cholesterol, which you should avoid. Saturated fats are the main cause of dietary high cholesterol.

Limit or avoid these foods, which are mainly found in animal-based products, as they can cause high cholesterol.

10 High cholesterol foods to limit

1. Red Meat

Beef, lamb, and pork – these are high in saturated fats and contain more cholesterol. Choose healthy proteins like beans, chicken and fish.

2. Whipped Cream

Made with whole milk, whipped cream is loaded with fat.

3. Butter

Use sparingly and replace in recipes with heart healthy oils like olive oil.

4. Processed Meats

Bacon, pepperoni and pork sausage are all high in sodium and fat.

5. Cheese

Choose cheeses lower in cholesterol like goat cheese, parmesan and blue cheese or go for the low-fat options.

6. Fried Foods

French fries, fried chicken, onion rings and other deep fried foods are loaded with saturated fats and extra calories.

7. Microwave Popcorn

Choose unsalted and butter–free popcorn. Get plain popcorn and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

8. Commercial Baked Goods

Packaged donuts, cakes and cookies are usually loaded with fats and have calories. 

9. Macaroni & Cheese

The main ingredients, whole milk, butter and cheese are loaded with unhealthy fats. If you are going to indulge make homemade mac and cheese and use 1% milk and reduced fat cheese.

10. Egg Yolks

Opt for egg whites which are cholesterol free.

Making small changes to limit the intake of these foods that cause high cholesterol will help prevent health challenges in the future.

Carlo’s Cholesterol Story

Carlo donated blood and platelets with OneBlood for quite some time, but during a donation a phlebotomist told him his platelet bag didn't look right. He later got a letter that his cholesterol was very high.

The following week, I donated platelets again and the phlebotomist noticed that his platelets looked extremely thick. He was then told his cholesterol was over 400 even though he felt fine, looked great, was thin and had a healthy appetite. 

But after seeing his doctor, he learned he had diabetes and was at risk for a stroke or heart attack.

According to his doctor, diabetes is a silent killer, you may look thin and awesome and healthy but inside it is killing you slowly.

Track Your Cholesterol with Each Blood Donation

Each time you donate blood you will get an overall non-fasting cholesterol check. This can help you monitor your overall cholesterol number and alert you if your cholesterol is high, indicating you may need to check-in with your doctor. Schedule your donation today.

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Heather Georgoudiou

Heather Georgoudiou is OneBlood’s Digital Marketing Analyst. She is a social media strategist and content creator with a passion for saving lives through the power of digital communications. 

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