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Foods High in Fat and Their Effect on High Cholesterol

When looking at cholesterol levels in the body, eating foods that are high in cholesterol is just part of the equation. Actually, for most people, the main cause of high blood cholesterol is eating too much of certain types of fat. Saturated fat and trans fatty acid (also known as trans fat) are types of fat that raise your cholesterol levels.
Saturated Fats
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 percent 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.
Saturated fats are found most often in animal-based food, including:
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Veal
  • Processed meats (such as sausage, bologna, salami, and hot dogs)
  • Egg yolks
  • Butter
  • Whole milk dairy products (such as milk, cream, cheese, and ice cream)
  • Baked goods (store-baked goods are often made with egg yolks and saturated fats and frequently contain trans fatty acids).
Some plant-based foods are also high in saturated fats, including:
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Palm oil
  • Palm kernel oil.
Since these foods come from a plant, they are not considered to be foods that are high in cholesterol. Despite this, they can have a big impact on increasing blood cholesterol levels.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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