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Health and Fitness News

Watching Your LDL

Keep an eye on foods that raise your LDL (aka bad) cholesterol.

High cholesterol is a big deal. So you better take it seriously. High levels can lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease, and coronary artery disease. While your doctor may prescribe medication and recommend you get more exercise, one of the best ways to manage high cholesterol is through your diet.

You may think that eating foods high in cholesterol would raise your cholesterol. Research shows otherwise. Don’t believe it? Science has determined that eggs are high in cholesterol. They’re also perfectly safe to eat every day for good health. The danger comes from the saturated and trans fats found in many cholesterol-heavy foods.

When it comes to cholesterol, you want to avoid low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. That’s the bad stuff. In your effort to lower your LDL levels, avoid or limit these foods.

Red Meat

Steaks and hamburgers may be some of your favorite foods, but they aren’t helping your heart. Red meat, such as beef, veal, lamb, and pork, are high in both cholesterol and saturated fat. To help keep your cholesterol in check, cut back on the amount of red meat you consume. Choose skinless poultry or fish instead.

Processed Meat

Most processed meats are made from red meat. This includes bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and deli ham. Part of the heart risk comes from the high sodium content and preservatives found in processed meats. A diet that regularly includes processed meats is linked to high cholesterol and heart disease. If you must, choose turkey or chicken deli meat or sausage.

Dairy Products

Full-fat dairy is another cause of high cholesterol. Butter, full-fat yogurt, cheese, and whole milk are all high in saturated fat. Many forget that cheese is also high in sodium. Low-fat dairy products can be part of a healthy diet. They can also provide nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, and protein. So avoid full-fat options and drink skim, one-percent, or two-percent milk. Reduce the amount of cheese you consume, and opt for low-fat yogurt.

Fried Foods

Anyone trying to lower their cholesterol, lose weight, or improve their health should avoid fried foods. Foods cooked in oil are high in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat. Because of this, it’s best to avoid French fries, fried chicken, hush puppies, onion rings, fried okra, and egg rolls.

Sweet Stuff

Sugar is one of the worst things you can eat for your heart. It raises your LDL cholesterol, triglycerides (blood cholesterol), and total cholesterol. That means bad news for your arteries. Save your good health by cutting out foods with added sugar. This includes sweetened beverages, desserts, candies, condiments, salad dressings, and many processed foods. Read ingredient labels and keep in mind that sugar has many different names.

Baked Goods

Most baked goods don’t just contain sugar. They’re full of shortening, margarine, or butter as well. As a result, they’re high in cholesterol, trans fat, and saturated fat. Watch for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils on ingredient labels. These fats are high in trans fat and are commonly used in pre-packaged baked goods.

Alcohol

Cholesterol levels don’t just rise due to foods. What you drink can raise cholesterol levels as well. One way to lower your cholesterol level is to drink less alcohol. Alcohol in moderation—red wine in particular—may have a protective effect on heart health. But don’t go overboard. Too much of any type of alcohol is associated with heart disease and a host of other health conditions.