Ah, cholesterol. First, studies report it is bad for us and should be avoided at all costs. Then studies show our bodies need cholesterol to carry out daily functions. With all the information floating around out there about “good cholesterol,” “bad cholesterol,” “trans fat” this and “low fat” that, it can be difficult to keep track of what you should and should not be eating. The truth is, your body does need cholesterol for the health of cell membranes, synthesis of hormones, and production of bile acids. Your liver creates the cholesterol your body needs. However, many of the delicious foods you may enjoy can also contain cholesterol. Here is a list of 15 foods that are bad for your cholesterol levels, and tips on how to replace them with healthier choices.
While a thick, juicy steak can be a real treat, your arteries may not thank you for indulging. It is helpful to understand that cholesterol is measured by your HDL cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. When there is too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your blood, this waxy substance can build up in your arteries. This causes atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. This, in turn, can lead to heart disease or heart attack. Unfortunately, red meat is one culprit in the increase of LDL levels in the blood. For special occasions when nothing but a steak will do, skip the ribeye or T-bone and choose leaner cuts of beef such as sirloin.
The type of fat found in beef, poultry, and dairy products is called saturated fat. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals with high cholesterol levels limit their intake of saturated fats to less than 6% of their daily calories. For the average person, that comes to about 13 grams of saturated fat daily. This is the amount of saturated fat found in just one fast food double cheeseburger! If you love the taste of a hamburger, you can indulge yourself by occasionally grilling or broiling a lean beef patty at home. Better yet, try grilling a delicious portobello mushroom for a hearty, meaty flavor without the saturated fat.