You have surely heard talk about how important it is to be mindful how much cholesterol you consume, and you are probably wondering ‘what foods are high in cholesterol?’
There are two types of cholesterol, LDL and HDL, which are often referred to as ‘bad’ and ‘good’ cholesterol accordingly.
Before learning the foods high in bad cholesterol and foods high in good cholesterol, let’s first discuss what cholesterol is.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance, found in your body and animal products, which is an essential building block for cell membrane. It gives cell membranes strength and flexibility and is important for hormone production, as well as the production of vitamin D and bile that is required to digest fats.
LDL and HDL cholesterol
Now, liquid does not mix well with cholesterol. And since your blood is liquid, it is transported by lipoproteins, including LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). The lipoproteins are made up of fat on the inside and proteins on the outside. LDL is often referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol because it deposits one type of cholesterol throughout the body and can lead to your blood vessels/arteries being ‘clogged’ with cholesterol. This buildup can increase your risk of developing heart disease. HDL, or ‘good’ cholesterol, collects LDL cholesterol and is the body’s cholesterol-recycling system. Without HDL, excess cholesterol, which could be oxidized and lead to inflammation, could build up in the body. When your level of HDL cholesterol is higher, you have a lower chance of developing heart disease.
Though it was once a major concern to consume too much cholesterol, your diet only attributes to slightly over 23% for the amount of cholesterol in your body.
Your liver naturally produces the rest of your body’s cholesterol, which then travels through the body via lipoproteins.
Although it is not necessary for every person to avoid foods with high cholesterol, high cholesterol foods are not always healthy.
So what foods are high in HDL cholesterol and what foods are high in LDL cholesterol? Let’s go on to find out.
What foods are high in cholesterol list
The National Cancer Institute listed these foods as the top sources of cholesterol for people living in the United States:
- Eggs and egg mixed dishes — 25 percent
- Chicken and chicken mixed dishes — 13 percent
- Beef, beef mixed dishes and burgers — 11 percent
- Full-fat cheese — 4 percent
- Sausage, hot dogs, bacon and ribs — 4 percent
- Fish and fish mixed dishes — 3 percent
- Grain-based desserts — 3 percent
- Dairy dessert — 3 percent
- Pasta and pasta dishes — 3 percent
- Pizza — 3 percent
- Mexican mixed dishes — 3 percent
- Cold cuts — 3 percent
- Reduced fat milk — 2.5 percent
- Pork and pork mixed dishes — 2 percent
- Shrimp and shrimp mixed dishes — 2 percent
Now let’s remember that just because a food is high in cholesterol, it doesn’t mean that it should be avoided. Here are foods that are high in bad cholesterol as well as good cholesterol.
Foods high in bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol)
- Processed vegetable oils
- Potato chips
- Packaged foods
- Sugary desserts
- Processed meats, such as bacon
- Refined grain products
- Conventional dairy products
3.5oz of ice cream for example, has 45 mg of cholesterol.
3.5oz of sponge cake has 260 mg of cholesterol.
Note: Your LDL cholesterol is significantly raised by eating too much saturated fats.
Foods high in good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol)
- Grass-fed meat
1 boiled egg, for example, has 225 mg of cholesterol.
3.5oz of kidney, beef has 375 mg.
What can cause high blood cholesterol
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the following can cause high blood cholesterol:
- “Unhealthy eating patterns, such as consuming high amounts of saturated fats or trans fats, can increase bad low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL).
- Lack of physical activity, such as spending a lot of time during the day sitting and watching TV or using the computer, is linked with lower levels of good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL).
- Smoking lowers HDL cholesterol, particularly in women, and increases LDL cholesterol.”
How can you manage your cholesterol levels
To manage your cholesterol levels, the NIH names the following as things you can do;
- “Diet. Saturated fat and cholesterol in the food you eat make your blood cholesterol level go up. Saturated fat is the main culprit, but cholesterol in foods also matters. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet helps lower your blood cholesterol level.
- Weight. Being overweight is a risk factor for heart disease. It also tends to increase your cholesterol. Losing weight can help lower your LDL and total cholesterol levels, as well as raise your HDL and lower your triglyceride levels.
- Physical Activity. Not being physically active is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It also helps you lose weight. You should try to be physically active for 30 minutes on most, if not all, days.”
So now that you know what foods are high in cholesterol, you can keep in mind that although the amount of cholesterol in them is not the most important thing, it is a factor. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, speak with your doctor.