Food With High Cholesterol

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Food with high cholesterol – Ordinarily, the human body produces cholesterol by itself. The levels of cholesterol are balanced, if healthy eating and regular physical activity are practiced on a daily basis. In day-to-day life, most of the cholesterol is used in cell membranes and to make hormones.

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Most people have a problem with high cholesterol. Why is cholesterol bad? Well, cholesterol is produced by the body and is used in synthesizing cell membranes and other important materials. However, too much of it may lead to various health problems, such as heart diseases. The liver is responsible for producing and removing excess cholesterol from the body. Cholesterol travels through the bloodstream, so if you want to know what foods to avoid, check out this list of high-cholesterol foods…

Food With High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is both good and bad. At normal levels, it is an essential substance for the body. However, if concentrations in the blood get too high, it becomes a silent danger that puts people at risk of heart attack.

Cholesterol is present in every cell of the body and has important natural functions when it comes to digesting foods, producing hormones, and generating vitamin D. The body produces it, but people also consume it in food. It is waxy and fat-like in appearance.

There are two types of cholesterol:

  • low-density lipoproteins (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol
  • high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol

In this article, we will explain the role of cholesterol. We will also discuss the causes of high cholesterol, and its symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

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Fast facts on cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is an essential substance that the body produces but which people also consume in foods.
  • Risk factors for high cholesterol include family history and the modifiable lifestyle choices of diet and exercise.
  • Having high cholesterol does not usually produce any symptoms.
  • If lifestyle changes are unsuccessful or cholesterol levels are very high, a doctor may prescribe a lipid-lowering drug, such as a statin.

What is cholesterol?

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Cholesterol is an oil-based substance. It does not mix with the blood, which is water-based.

It travels around the body in lipoproteins.

Two types of lipoprotein carry the parcels of cholesterol:

  • Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Cholesterol that travels in this way is unhealthful or “bad” cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoprotein (HDL): Cholesterol that is present in HDL is known as “good” cholesterol.

Cholesterol has four primary functions, without which we could not survive.

These are:

  • contributing to the structure of cell walls
  • making up digestive bile acids in the intestine
  • allowing the body to produce vitamin D
  • enabling the body to make certain hormones

Causes of high cholesterol

High cholesterol is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease and a cause of heart attacks.

A build-up of cholesterol is part of the process that narrows arteries, called atherosclerosis. In atherosclerosis, plaques form and cause restriction of blood flow.

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Reducing the intake of fat in the diet helps to manage cholesterol levels. In particular, it is helpful to limit foods that contain:

  • Cholesterol: This is present in animal foods, meat, and cheese.
  • Saturated fat: This occurs in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, deep-fried, and processed foods.
  • Trans fats: This occurs in some fried and processed foods.

Excess weight or obesity can also lead to higher blood LDL levels. Genetic factors can contribute to high cholesterol. People with the inherited condition familial hypercholesterolemia have very high LDL levels.

Other conditions that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include:

  • diabetes
  • liver or kidney disease
  • polycystic ovary syndrome
  • pregnancy and other conditions that increase levels of female hormones
  • underactive thyroid gland
  • drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol, such as progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids

High cholesterol symptoms

A person with high cholesterol levels often has no signs or symptoms, but routine screening and regular blood tests can help detect high levels.

A person who does not undergo testing may have a heart attack without warning, because they did not know that they had high cholesterol levels. Regular tests can help to reduce this risk.

Cholesterol in foods

A report from Harvard Health has identified 11 cholesterol-lowering foods that actively decrease cholesterol levels:

  • oats
  • barley and whole grains
  • beans
  • eggplant and okra
  • nuts
  • vegetable oil (canola, sunflower)
  • fruits (mainly apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus)
  • soy and soy-based foods
  • fatty fish (particularly salmon, tuna, and sardines)
  • foods rich in fiber

Adding these to a balanced diet can help keep cholesterol in check.

The same report also lists foods that are bad for cholesterol levels. These include:

  • red meat
  • full-fat dairy
  • margarine
  • hydrogenated oils
  • baked goods

Various low cholesterol recipe books are available to purchase online.

Levels and ranges

In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered healthy.

  • A reading between 200 and 239 mg/dL is borderline high.
  • A reading of 240 mg/dL and above is considered high.

LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.

  • 100–129 mg/dL is acceptable for people with no health problems but may be a concern for anyone with heart disease or heart disease risk factors.
  • 130—159 mg/dL is borderline high.
  • 160–189 mg/dL is high.
  • 190 mg/dL or higher is considered very high.

HDL levels should be kept higher. The optimal reading for HDL levels is of 60 mg/dL or higher.

  • A reading of less than 40 mg/dL can be a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • A reading from 41 mg/dL to 59 mg/dL is borderline low.
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Preventing high cholesterol

People who wish to reduce their cholesterol levels or maintain a suitable level can make four major lifestyle decisions.

  • eat a heart-healthy diet
  • regularly exercise
  • avoid smoking
  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight

These actions will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack.

Since 2013, guidelines on reducing or preventing high cholesterol have focused on addressing lifestyle risks, even at a young age.

Since 2018, new guidelines published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also urged doctors also to discuss with individuals the following factors that may increase a person’s risk:

  • family history and ethnicity
  • certain health conditions that increase the risk of high cholesterol, such as chronic kidney disease or chronic inflammatory conditions

Taking these factors into consideration will lead to a more personalized approach to the treatment and prevention of high cholesterol levels.

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Some foods contain cholesterol, but surprisingly they don’t make a big difference to the cholesterol in your blood. 

That’s because most of us eat less than 300mg of cholesterol per day – a small amount compared to the amount of saturated fat we eat.

Cholesterol is made mainly in the liver. But it’s also found in animal foods such as eggs, shellfish, meat and dairy products.

Do I need to cut down on dietary cholesterol?

Most people don’t need to cut down on the cholesterol that’s found in foods- so you can still enjoy eggs and shellfish.

It’s much more important to cut down on foods which contain saturated fats. That’s because saturated fats affect how the liver handles cholesterol. So, eating saturated fats can raise your blood cholesterol. Try to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats which are better for your heart.

For some people – those with familial hypercholesterolaemia (FH), those who have high cholesterol, and those who are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease – the recommendation is to limit cholesterol in food to no more than 300mg a day. In the case of FH, ideally less than 200 mg a day.

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Even though dietary cholesterol only has a small effect on blood cholesterol, people with high cholesterol and FH already have high levels of blood cholesterol, so it seems sensible not to eat too much cholesterol in food.

Which foods are high in cholesterol?

All animal foods contain some cholesterol. But by cutting down on the animal foods that contain saturated fats you will be keeping the cholesterol in your diet in check too.

Foods that contain cholesterol and are high in saturated fat.
Full fat dairy foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt and cream.
Animal fats, such as butter, ghee, margarines and spreads made from animal fats, lard, suet and dripping.
Fatty meat and processed meat products such as sausages.
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There are some foods which are low in saturated fat but high in cholesterol. These include eggs, some shellfish, liver, liver pate and offal. Most people don’t need to cut down on the cholesterol that’s found in these foods.

Foods that contain cholesterol but are low in saturated fat.
Lean meat, especially offal, such as liver, kidney, sweetbreads, heart and tripe  
Prawns, crab, lobster, squid, octopus and cuttlefish.
Eggs (the cholesterol is in the yolk).  
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For people with FH, or who have high cholesterol, or are at high risk of or have cardiovascular disease, you can still eat some of these foods, but you need to be more careful about how often you eat them to ensure you’re keeping within the guidelines. For example, you could eat three or four eggs a week, and shellfish such as prawns up to once or twice a week.

You should avoid liver and offal altogether because they are very rich sources of cholesterol.

The table below shows the amount of cholesterol in these types of foods:-

FoodCholesterol (mg) Per Portion
Eggs ·         1 very large ·         1 large ·         1 medium ·         1 small  256mg 240mg 200mg 185mg
Liver ·         Lamb, raw (100g) ·         Calf, raw (100g) ·         Chicken, raw (100g) ·         Pig, raw (100g)  430mg 370mg 380mg 260mg
Liver Pate (40g)68mg
Kidney ·         Pig, raw (100g) ·         Lamb, raw (100g)  410mg 315mg
Heart ·         1 Lamb’s heart, raw (191g) ·         1 Pig’s heart, raw (266g)  267mg 210mg
Shellfish ·         Prawns, raw (140g) ·         Canned crab in brine (100g) ·         Fresh crab meat, cooked (100g) ·         Half a cooked lobster (250g)  210mg 72mg 169mg 275mg
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Some shellfish such as cockles, mussels, oysters, scallops and clams are all low in cholesterol and in saturated fat and you can eat them as often as you like.

A word about eating liver

Liver is a lean meat which is high in cholesterol. It’s low in saturated fat and high in vitamins and minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and vitamins A, B and D.

It’s generally a very healthy food to eat, but it’s so high in vitamin A that it’s best not to eat too much of it. For some people, eating liver often could mean that vitamin A builds up in the body, causing health problems.

8 Foods That Lead to High Cholesterol
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The government recommends eating no more than one portion per week of liver or liver pate. If you do eat liver, avoid any supplements that also contain vitamin A in the form of retinol.

If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, avoid liver, liver pate and supplements which contain retinol completely.

Women who have been through the menopause should limit liver to no more than once a week.

Foods which don’t contain cholesterol

Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals, there is no cholesterol in foods that come from plants. So, there is no cholesterol in fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, peas and lentils.

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