Foods You Should Really Avoid For High Cholesterol
It is very likely that you have heard a lot about cholesterol. Hypercholesterolemia is a risk factor contributing to the development of cardiovascular disease. But did you know that you could reduce your cholesterol by making wise food choices? That is true! There are certain foods to reduce or even banish from your diet if you have high cholesterol. What are they? Are these high cholesterol foods like eggs, seafood like shrimps? Nope!
Dietary cholesterol is not detrimental to most people health
High cholesterol foods include eggs, animal brain, kidney and liver meat, seafood like calamari, lobster and shrimp. A lobster on a daily basis is not within the reach of all budgets, but this is not the case for eggs. Yet for nearly 50 years, nutritionists’ recommendations have been in favor of decreasing egg consumption on the pretext that eggs increase blood cholesterol and that it is bad for health. For example, in the USA egg consumption has declined steadily since the 1950s following repeated recommendations from experts in nutrition and metabolism.
This supposed adverse effect of dietary cholesterol dates back to 1961 when the American Heart Association (AHA) peremptorily stated that eggs were bad for the arteries. The arguments of the time were, if not slight, at least questionable, but the federal authorities issued the first recommendation on eggs. This decision was taken up by many Western countries.
But, after several decades of ban on foods high in cholesterol, the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee after analysis of numerous recent worldwide scientific studies came to that there is not enough evidence on a quantitative dose of cholesterol from food that has an impact on blood cholesterol levels, removing the limit on dietary cholesterol in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The metabolism of cholesterol varies according to individuals and their state of health. There is a fraction of people that “manage” poorly the dietary cholesterol and enriches it in the blood in “bad” cholesterol forming small dense LDL. The cause of this sort of metabolic deviance is still largely unknown. What has been observed is that rabbits, for example, bear very much too much cholesterol whereas rats are very well suited to it… and in humans, this difference is probably of genetic origin.
If you have not a lipid metabolism disorder or are not genetically predisposed to hypercholesterolemia, you should not worry about eating cholesterol-rich foods. Then, what should you worry about? What to avoid?
Foods that really increase cholesterol
Foods that are rich in saturated fats, trans fats, and refined carbs are the real culprits in the increase of blood cholesterol levels. Let’s list some.
Refined vegetable oils
Vegetable oils are extracted from seeds such as soy, corn, sunflower and some more. They only started to take place in the 20th century, since there was previously no technology to extract them. These oils are used in different processed foods, including “healthy” dressings, butter replacements, mayonnaise, cookies and much more.
Most vegetable oils are highly refined. The most common way to extract them from their seeds is through aggressive chemical processes involving bleaching, deodorization and toxic solvent hexane. Because of this, almost all vitamins and phytonutrients are removed from these oils. Moreover, vegetable oils that are commonly sold are loaded with trans fats. These are hydrogenated vegetable fats chemically modified to remain solid at room temperature.
There are many healthy fats that humans have been eating for thousands of years without any problems (since before all “modern” diseases became problems). This includes extra (better) virgin olive oil as well as coconut oil.
Why are fried foods unhealthy for cholesterol? This is because when fried, in the cooking process, fats undergo a series of detrimental changes: loss of nutritive value and changes in their chemical composition.
It is important to know that oils have different smoking points. This value indicates when a fat begins to decompose, forming toxic substances that can harm the body. In addition, trans fats, responsible for causing an increase in the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and a decrease in those of HDL (good cholesterol) can be generated.
So, if we compare the same food, for example, potato, steamed or fried, we will see that fries have a much higher percentage of fats and calories, and may favor the endogenous synthesis of cholesterol.
For this reason, it is recommended to limit intake fried foods, especially if you consume them outside your home since you do not know which oils or fats are used for cooking.
Refined grains and sugars
Consumption of carbohydrates from refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and low in fiber such as donuts, cookies, cakes, muffins is associated with lower HDL levels and high levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
This is because when they are consumed in excess, they can cause in the body an increase of circulating sugars. The body will try to keep blood glucose controlled, so these sugars will be derived to the liver to become fat, and thus increase the synthesis of LDL or bad cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides.
According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who reduce their consumption of saturated fats but increase their intake of carbohydrates or refined sugars would have a higher risk of heart disease.
Consuming processed meats, such as sausages, increases the risk of coronary heart disease. But red meat does not appear to be harmful, recent research reveals. Processed meats include any meat preserved with smoked, cured or salted, such as bacon, hot dog, salami, ham, and other sausages.
Harvard University scientists analyzed several studies involving more than one million people and discovered that it is enough to consume 50 grams of processed meat a day – the equivalent of one or two slices of ham or sausage – to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
But they did not find that risk in people who consumed twice that amount in unprocessed meats, which are red meats like steak, lamb or pork. This is despite the fact that both forms of meat have similar fat content, say researchers in the journal Circulation.
According to scientists, as both products have similar amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, the difference could be in the salt and preservatives added to the processed meat. Salt is known to increase blood pressure in some people and this is a key risk factor for coronary heart disease. In animal studies, it has been found that nitrates that are used as preservatives can promote atherosclerosis (deposits of fat in the arteries) and reduce glucose tolerance, which lead to heart problems and diabetes.
Alcohol can have a double effect on cholesterol levels. On the one hand, it can be beneficial by increasing good or HDL cholesterol or it can be harmful by increasing the bad or LDL cholesterol. This double effect will depend on the moderate or high consumption of alcohol. Thus, excessive consumption of alcohol may be a cause of hypercholesterolemia.