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40 Problematic Foods That May Increase Cholesterol Levels

Canola Oil

The level of trans fat in canola oil is increased when it undergoes hydrogenation to become a semi-hydrogenated oil. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol while decreasing HDL cholesterol levels. Some other oils that have fatty acids you want to avoid are corn oil, safflower oil, soy oil, and vegetable oil.

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Potato Chips

Too much snacking is bad for you, especially if the snack is unhealthy. Snack foods like potato chips lead to obesity and high cholesterol because it's full of saturated fat. If you want something to munch on, it's best to pick something better for your health and remember to snack in moderation.

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Cookies

Added sugars in packaged foods such as cookies can increase LDL cholesterol, raise triglycerides, and lower HDL cholesterol. Additionally, sugar causes obesity and can lead to sugar addiction. Over 75% of packaged foods contain some form of added sugar.

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Processed Meats

Processed meats can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. However, unprocessed meat has little or no risk of cardiovascular disease. Keep in mind that products with “reduced fat” labels are high in calories and saturated fats. Processed meats are also usually high in sodium.

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Alcohol

Consuming too much alcohol can cause high blood pressure and triglyceride levels, increasing your risk of heart issues. That doesn’t mean you have give up cocktails just yet. Moderate alcohol consumption can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Once again, try to consume alcohol in moderation.

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Milk

The fatty acids found in milk fat have an adverse effect on cholesterol-rich lipoproteins. The saturated fatty acids raise total plasma cholesterol, especially LDL. Replacing saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats can lower LDL cholesterol levels and decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Refined Grain Products

Eating a lot of refined carbohydrates can have a negative effect on your HDL cholesterol level. Refined grains have a high glycemic index, and a diet high in these kinds of carbs can lead to higher risks of high cholesterol. Try sprouted bread instead.

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Rib Eye Steak

Say it ain't so! Yes, rib eye steak is the worst type of red meat you can eat. It contains the highest amount of saturated fat compared to every other cut. Instead, aim for sirloin tip steaks, which have far less fat.

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Fast-Food Burgers

Sorry to disappoint, but your favorite fast food burger isn't good for you. Fast-food restaurants use lower quality ingredients and unhealthy cooking methods. High-quality burgers such as grass-fed beef consumed in moderation are okay and may even have heart-healthy benefits. Keep in mind that saturated fats from animals combined with carbohydrates are generally bad for your heart.

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Deep-Fried Foods

Fried foods increase your risk of heart disease because conventional frying methods create trans fats. If you want fried food, make it at home and avoid the kind you don’t prepare yourself.

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Candy

Fat was once considered the primary cause of heart disease. Now, however, it is believed that diets high in added sugar can be another significant cause. Added sugar leads to increased risk for heart disease by contributing to obesity, inflammation, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It’s hard to stay away from candy, but if you’re at risk for heart disease, you should avoid sugar.

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Soft Drinks

Whether you call it soda, coke, or pop, the beverage is one to avoid. Believe it or not, the main source of added sugar for Americans is found in beverages, not food. This means you should consider switching out soft drinks for water.

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Sugary Cereals

Sorry, even your favorite breakfast cereal is probably packed with sugar. You don’t want to eat sugars and refined carbohydrates, especially not in the morning. Not only does this cause inflammation, but also makes blood sugar go up and down, so you’ll crave more sugar as the day goes on.

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Pastries

Most baked goods are loaded with sugar and most likely made with saturated fats or trans fats. Both of these are bad for your diet and heart.

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Margarine

Diets high in trans fats increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats are found in sticks of margarine that are solid at room temperature. They are often marketed as a healthier alternative to butter but should be avoided. Go with soft, spreadable margarine that contains no partially hydrogenated oils or use olive oil instead.

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Meat-Lovers Pizza

This type of pizza is second on the American Heart Association’s list of “salty six” foods. The sodium and saturated fat increase significantly when topping like extra-cheese and meat are added to the pizza.  Limit yourself to one or two slices of pizza or go for veggie toppings.

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Diet Soda

We already established that soft drinks are bad for you, but diet soft drinks can be even worse. Diet soda is linked to obesity, diabetes,  and more. After a 10-year Havard study, scientists found that those who drank diet soda regularly were at an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, stroke, and heart disease. Researchers have a difficult time pinpointing the cause, but most suspect that the chemicals in diet soda might alter gastrointestinal bacteria and make people more prone to weight gain.

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Fruit

Yes, you read that right. Fruit is essential for a healthy diet, but consume too much of it and your ability to lower your triglycerides may be impaired. Fruit contains fructose which is a kind of sugar found in some foods. If you have high triglycerides, you should limit your consumption of fructose to about 50-100 grams per days.

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Fish Canned in Oil

Fish is a heart-healthy food, but canned fish in oil isn’t the best choice. The added oil makes the flavor better but also adds to the "bad" fats like trans fats and saturated fats. For this reason, it is a good idea to buy canned fish that is packed in water.

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Coconut

Coconut is high in saturated fat. Not only do coconut products increase triglycerides, but they also raise total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol. Coconut oil is a no-no, too. It actually contains more saturated fat than butter! You don't have to avoid this delicious food, but it's best to eat it sparingly. 

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Pasta

If you have high triglycerides, it is essential to monitor your consumption of starchy foods like pasta. This is because your body turns excess carbohydrates into triglycerides if the calories are not used for energy. A diet high in carbohydrates, especially simple carbs, is bad for your blood sugar and lowers good HDL cholesterol.

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Syrup

Think twice before drowning your pancakes in syrup. Maple syrup can increase your triglyceride levels. Opt for using less syrup or start using low-calorie or sugar-free maple syrup. Watch out for brown sugar, corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, fructose sweetener, glucose, invert sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, lactose, malt syrup, molasses, sucrose, turbinado sugar, and trehalose.

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Muffins

Depending on how the muffin is made, it has the potential to be a healthy food. A low-fat bran muffin that is made with whole wheat flour is good for you. However, muffins with whole milk, eggs, and filled with something extra like chocolate chips, can have as much as eight grams of fat in just one serving.

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Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn loaded with butter, oil, and salt is not healthy.  The snack can increase your cholesterol levels. It doesn’t mean you have to give up popcorn altogether. A bowl of unsalted, butter-free popcorn is a good way to lower your cholesterol.

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Mac & Cheese

No doubt you've enjoyed a bowl of Mac & Cheese at some point in your childhood. If you still enjoy now, I’m sorry to say that you may want to avoid it. The dish is made with milk, butter, and cheese which are ingredients packed with saturated fats.

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French Fries

French Fries are a high cholesterol food because they're made with hydrogenated vegetable oils. Partially hydrogenated oils are ideal for frying fast foods, but, unfortunately, foods made with partially hydrogenated oils tend to have large amounts of trans fats.

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Cream Cheese

Think twice before slathering cream cheese on your morning bagel because it's high in saturated fat. That's bad news for those of us that love a bagel and schmear. 

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Ice Cream

It may be your favorite dessert on a summer day, but it’s one that should be avoided. Ice cream is basically milk or cream and sugar. Both of these things have been linked to high cholesterol. Frozen yogurt may be a better option for those that need a sweet treat on a hot day.

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Whipping Cream

Whipping cream is two things: sugar and heavy whipping cream. Both of these ingredients increase "bad" cholesterol while lowering "good" cholesterol. It breaks our hearts too, but anyone following a low-cholesterol diet should avoid this food.

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Salad Dressing

Store-bought salad dressing is especially bad, even the low-fat versions. Looking at the nutrition facts reveals that it's full of sugar and fat. Both of these will cause high "bad" cholesterol and lower "good" cholesterol. Your best bet? Make your own. Not time effective, but the next best thing is a dry salad. Who wants that?

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Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, dressing them up too much can make them very unhealthy. The butter, salt, and sometimes cheese that is added to mashed potatoes all add on too much for those with cholesterol worries to safely ingest.

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Added Sugars

Added sugars aren’t a good idea for anyone to consume, but those with high cholesterol are at an especially high risk. Try to drink and eat things that don’t have added sugar and your cholesterol will thank you—and so will your waistline.

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Full-Fat Yogurt

Full-fat yogurt spells disaster for those with high cholesterol. If you just can’t let go of your precious yogurt, try better alternatives. Look for the kinds that are high in protein and low in carbs, like greek or low-fat yogurt.

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Ghee

You might think ghee is a better alternative than regular butter. However, clarified butters aren't a healthy option for those watching their cholesterol. Use olive oil in your recipes instead and your arteries will last longer.

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Poultry Skin

Who doesn’t love a good crispy skin on a nice piece of fried chicken? Unfortunately, this crunchy treat is also full of grease and sodium. This is nothing but disaster for your cholesterol levels, so it’s best to avoid poultry skin—especially if it’s fried.

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Refried Beans

While beans and other legumes are actually really good at helping lower your cholesterol levels, refried beans can be a sneaky danger. The kind you get in a can is packed with salt, carbs, and fats, which all spell disaster for those concerned with their cholesterol.

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Packaged Frosting

If you make your frosting yourself, it can actually be pretty low in sugar, carbs, and fats. The packaged frosting on the shelves at your grocery store, however, are a different story. Those little containers are hiding a sinful amount of sugar and fat that are just waiting to clog your arteries.

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Lamb

Lamb can be a great addition to your diet if you cook it properly and stick to a lean cut. However, it’s also full of saturated fats and bad cholesterol. When you think about how lamb is often cooked in butter and served with potatoes, your cholesterol levels are in danger.

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Steak

Just like with lamb, steak is good in moderation. Unfortunately, it’s often cooked in butter and served with a salty side item that will quickly clog your arteries. Stick to lean cuts served with steamed vegetables if you can’t live without your steak.

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Pork Chops

There are high-fat and lean cuts of pork, but it really depends on how you cook it. Pork chops are a higher-fat cut and they’re often fried or cooked in oil or butter, which makes them dangerous for those with high cholesterol. Stick to the pork loin for a healthier cut.

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