Cardiologist shares the 4 worst foods for high cholesterol—and what she eats to maintain a ‘healthy heart’
LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol builds up in the arteries and forms plaque that blocks blood flow to the brain. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol takes LDL and takes it to the liver for processing.
Optimal levels vary from person to person, so always check with your doctor first.
As cardiologist who treats patients with high cholesterol, I always try to use diet first as medicine. Here are the four worst foods for high cholesterol—and what I eat instead to keep my heart healthy:
Yes, that includes burgers, ribs, steaks and pork chops. If you don’t want to cut out red meat completely, focus on small amounts of lean meat. And by small, I mean a three-ounce serving—and eat red meat no more than once a week.
Keep in mind that poultry also contains saturated fat, so avoiding red meat doesn’t necessarily mean you should load up on chicken.
As far as meat alternatives go, I’m generally skeptical of modified foods. To me, plants were never supposed to bleed.
What to eat instead: Think fish and shellfish. Shrimp may be high in cholesterol, but if you don’t cover them with butter, they’ll provide you with plenty of protein and keep your blood cholesterol at bay.
Some other tasty lean protein options are white-fleshed fish like tilapia, flounder, cod and bass.
Frying food usually increases the number of calories because the food absorbs saturated or trans fats and cholesterol during the process.
What to eat instead: Roast potatoes, kale or broccoli until crispy. Or, you can invest in a deep fryer that uses much less fat.
The World Health Organization has classified meat products such as bacon, hot dogs and salami as carcinogenic substances. Processed meats are also high in sodium and saturated fat.
What to eat instead: Fake bacon is unlikely to satisfy your BLT craving. My advice? Cut back on these products and prepare them for special occasions.
Mass-produced cookies, cakes, and pastries are often high in calories, low in nutrients, and high in fat (especially saturated fat like butter and lard) and sugar. All of these are major causes of high cholesterol.
What to eat instead: Bake at home, and control the amount and type of fat and sugar you use.
dr. Elizabeth Claude is a cardiologist and founder Food in the first step. Trained at the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins, Dr. Klodas has published dozens of scientific articles throughout her career, authored a patient book, “Kill the Giant: The Power of Prevention to Defeat Heart Disease,″ and was the editor-in-chief Cardiosmart.org.