Foods to Avoid for High Cholesterol
Saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) level more than anything else in your diet. As part of a heart-healthy diet, it is recommended that people limit their intake of saturated fat to 7 to 10 percent of their diet. For people who already have high cholesterol, it is recommended that saturated fat intake be less than 7 percent of their daily caloric intake.
Saturated fats are found in most animal-based food, including:
- Processed meats (such as hot dogs, sausage, bologna, and salami)
- Egg yolks
- Whole-milk dairy products (such as cheese, milk, cream, and ice cream)
- Baked goods (store-baked goods are often made with egg yolks and saturated fats; they may also contain trans fatty acids).
Some plant-based foods are also high in saturated fats, including:
- Palm oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Coconuts and coconut oil.
Because these foods come from a plant, they are not considered "high cholesterol foods." Despite this, they can have a big impact on increasing blood cholesterol levels, so these are foods you may want to avoid if your cholesterol levels are already high.
Trans fatty acids, or trans fats, are made when liquid vegetable oil is heated in the presence of hydrogen. This process is known as hydrogenation. The more hydrogenated an oil is, the harder it will be at room temperature and the more trans fat it will contain.
Trans fat is found in:
- Commercially baked goods
- Snack foods (cookies and crackers)
- Processed foods
- Fried foods (such as French fries or doughnuts).
Trans fats are even worse for cholesterol levels than saturated fat and cholesterol itself because they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol.
When you are reading food labels, look for the words "hydrogenated" and "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list. These foods are loaded with trans fat and saturated fat. Also, look for "trans fat" on the food label. It often appears directly below "saturated fat."