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Worst Foods for High Cholesterol

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  • Worst Foods for High Cholesterol

    Worst Foods for High Cholesterol

    The words “high cholesterol” strike fear in many, and with good reason: One in every six adults in the U.S. has high cholesterol, which puts them at twice the risk of having heart disease as those with optimal cholesterol levels. Like many matters of the heart, part of the problem—and solution!—leads back to the stomach, or rather what goes in it. Here are 7 foods that can contribute to high cholesterol, and healthy alternatives to try.

    Cholesterol Clogs Your Arteries
    Cholesterol, a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and many foods, can build up in your blood vessels, hardening them (a condition called atherosclerosis) and putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Like its sidekick high blood pressure, high cholesterol has no symptoms so you can’t feel your arteries clogging. Make it a habit to get your levels checked regularly. If you’ve been diagnosed with high total cholesterol (defined as 240 mg/dL and above; optimal total cholesterol is lower than 200 mg/dL.), your doctor may recommend diet and lifestyle changes (including getting more exercise), along with cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins, to get your levels back on track

    Cut Cholesterol in Your Diet
    Twenty-five percent of the cholesterol in the body comes from food, so making changes to your diet can reduce your total cholesterol level. We’ve suggested healthier alternatives for these high cholesterol culprits—they substitute not-so-healthy saturated fat and very-unhealthy trans fat with healthier mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.

    Trans Fat: Your Arteries’ #1 Enemy
    Research is showing that it’s not the amount of actual cholesterol in food as much as the type of fat in food that raises cholesterol levels in the body. While you may know that saturated fats can affect cholesterol, trans fats are even worse. Not only do they raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, they also lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Trans fats occur naturally in some meats and dairy products, but are mostly found in foods made with hydrogenated oils. While it’s now easier to avoid trans fats due to labeling initiatives in packaged foods and some restaurant bans, they still lurk in the food supply.

    Avoid: French Fries
    While some restaurants are now using trans-free oils for deep frying, you can’t tell what type of oil they use unless it’s advertised.

    Switch to: Opting for a side salad instead is your healthiest bet. But if you’re going to go for the fries, make sure they’re oven-baked or ask for a baked potato instead.

    Avoid: Anything Battered and Fried
    The words “battered” or “crispy” usually indicate a food has been fried. Chicken and fish are two common culprits. In addition to the unhealthy oils used to fry, some batters can also have trans fat.

    Switch to: Grilled chicken and fish.

    Eat Less: Grain-Fed Beef
    Because it can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, some experts recommend limiting beef consumption to reduce cholesterol levels. But the type of diet the cow eats affects beef nutrition.

    Switch to: Look for grass-fed beef at your local farmers market or grocery store and eat in moderation. Grass-fed beef has lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol.

    Avoid: Stick Margarine
    Margarine used to be hailed as a healthier alternative to saturated fat-filled butter. But now we know better. Stick margarine is a potent source of trans fat and should be avoided.

    Switch to: Trans-free tub margarine with added sterols. Sterols are powerful plant chemicals that can help lower cholesterol.

    Eat Less: Baked Goods
    Commercially-prepared baked goods like packaged biscuits, croissants and muffins can be loaded with trans fat, which is used to extend shelf life. If you need another reason to abstain, pastries and desserts are calorie bombs, and extra weight, especially belly fat, increases the risk for heart disease.

    Instead: Help your heart and waistline by limiting your consumption of baked goods to the occasional sweet treat. When you do indulge, check the ingredient label and avoid any item that includes shortening or partially hydrogenated oil.

    Avoid: Doughnuts
    Not only are doughnuts typically deep-fried in hydrogenated oils, they’re full of refined sugar, which can indirectly affect cholesterol.

    Switch to: Starting your day with a sugar- and fat-filled doughnut will leave you in second gear all day. Instead, try an energy-boosting egg sandwich on a whole wheat English muffin or a cup of cottage cheese with fruit and nuts. For a mid-day break, biscotti makes for a healthier dunk-able companion to your coffee.

    Avoid: Soft Drinks
    With zero grams of fat (though lots of calories!), you might not think of soda as bad for cholesterol levels, but sugary soda can spike insulin levels in the blood, which in turn, can raise cholesterol levels. With one of every five calories in the American diet being liquid, soda makes up the single biggest “food” source in the nation’s diet, and is one of the leading causes of weight gain that leads to heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

    Switch to: Sparkling water with a fruit wedge or a splash of juice.

    Healthy Eating Habits for a Lifetime
    Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly all the time, but you do have to eat better most of the time. Make changes slowly, experiment with new foods and find healthier ways to prepare your favorites.

    NOTE: I realize a lot of the recommendations on this article are not renal/dialysis diet friendly. I decided to post it as a general guideline of the foods we should avoid to keep our cholesterol under control and our happy
    I received the GIFT OF LIFE on Nov 9, 2010 thanks to my wonderful donor Laura and her family!