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Foods to Avoid with High Cholesterol

written by: Nicky LaMarco • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 5/11/2011

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the "bad" form cholesterol, so anyone with high cholesterol levels should take steps to reduce this number. Avoid the foods on this list to keep cholesterol levels under control.

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    foods not to eat if you have high bad cholesterol When cholesterol levels are too high, the blood vessels can become blocked with fatty deposits. This can lead to a number of health problems including heart attacks and strokes. Fortunately, high cholesterol can often be controlled through diet and exercise. There are plenty of foods you can and should eat in this condition, such as high-fiber foods, fish, nuts and olive oil. There are also some foods to avoid that if you have high cholesterol.

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    Red Meat and Organ Meat

    The most important thing to remember when choosing foods is that cholesterol comes from animal products. However, there are some animal products that are worse than others when it comes to cholesterol levels. Organ meats such as brains, kidneys and liver contain especially high levels of cholesterol, and should not be a part of a low-cholesterol diet.

    Red meat is also high in cholesterol, especially the fattier cuts. Overall, it is best to eat red meat only occasionally, substituting chicken and fish instead. It is important to note that not all seafood and poultry are good choices. Shrimp are high in cholesterol, as are both duck and goose.

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    Foods Containing Saturated Fats

    There are also certain kinds of fats which should be avoided on a low cholesterol diet. Saturated fats, which come from animal products and some plant products, are known to raise the level of "bad" LDL cholesterol in the body. Saturated fats are found in fresh meats, processed meats, egg yolks, butter, whole milk, high fat dairy products, and baked goods.

    Palm and coconut oil are also high in saturated fats, even though they are plant-based foods. Although these plant-based foods do not contain cholesterol, they can be instrumental in raising the body's cholesterol level, and as such should be avoided.

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    Foods Containing Trans Fats

    Although vegetable oil generally supports healthy blood cholesterol levels, there are certain ways that it can be processed that can change that. When it is heated and processed with hydrogen, it becomes hydrogenated vegetable oil. Vegetable oil that has been processed in this manner is solid at room temperature. These resulting trans fatty acids are extremely detrimental to the body's cholesterol level, because not only do they raise the "bad" LDL cholesterol, but they also lower the "good" HDL cholesterol level.

    Any foods that are made with vegetable shortening should be avoided, such as baked goods, many snack foods such as crackers, foods that are fried in shortening, and many processed foods. In general, if a food label lists any ingredients with the words "hydrogenated" in it, it should be avoided.

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    It may seem that the list of foods not to eat if you have high bad cholesterol will have a big impact on your life. It's easy to despair and think you'll never again get to eat your favorite foods. However, with a little consideration, it's actually not difficult to avoid these foods and still enjoy a full, flavorful diet. Learn to replace foods that are high in cholesterol with better choices. For example, replace red meat with chicken or fish for most of your weekly meals. Instead of eating dairy products that are high in fat, such as whole milk and high fat cheese, select skim milk and low fat cheese products. Cook with healthy oils such as olive or canola, avoid shortening and lard, and make your own baked goods at home.