What Foods Cause High Cholesterol
– Full-fat dairy. Whole milk, butter and full-fat yogurt and cheese are high in saturated fat. … – Red meat. Steak, beef roast, ribs, pork chops and ground beef tend to have high saturated fat and cholesterol content. … – Processed meat. … – Fried foods. … – Baked goods and sweets. … – Eggs. … – Shellfish. … – Lean meat.
What Causes High Cholesterol?
What Are The Risks Linked To High Cholesterol
Too much LDL cholesterol in the blood can increase your risk of heart and blood vessel disease .
The excess LDL cholesterol leads to fatty deposits called plaque forming in the artery walls. Over time, the plaque causes narrowing and hardening of the arteries .
This can lead to:
- Angina when plaque builds up in the major arteries that supply your heart, known as the coronary arteries, they become narrower and are partially blocked, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. This may cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
- Heart attack if a plaque in a coronary artery bursts , a clot may form and block the supply of blood to the heart, starving it of oxygen.
- Stroke if the blood vessels that supply the brain become narrower or blocked by plaque, blood supply to the brain can be severely reduced or cut off, causing a stroke. Strokes can also be caused when a clot from another part of the body travels through the blood and lodges in an artery in the brain.
- Peripheral vascular disease this usually affects the arteries that supply the legs and feet, causing leg pain when walking , and even pain when resting, when the circulation is more badly affected
A high level of HDL cholesterol is good because HDL cholesterol helps remove other forms of cholesterol from the blood, taking them back to the liver where they’re removed from the blood and passed out of the body.
How Can I Lower My Cholesterol By Making Lifestyle Changes
You can lower your cholesterol levels by making lifestyle changes, and through taking medicines if that’s what your doctor advises. Some people will only need to improve their lifestyle and diet to get their cholesterol to a safe level. Others may need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines, as well.
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How Do I Lower My Cholesterol Your 5 Top Questions Answered
High cholesterol could be caused by things we can control like lifestyle habits, or things we cant like age and family history. Keeping on top of the things you can control with simple changes can help to lower your risk of heart and circulatory disease. We answer your questions with simple tips to help you start making changes today.
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What Makes Ldl Cholesterol Too High
A range of medical and lifestyle factors cause high LDL, including:
- Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, salts, and cholesterol and low in healthy proteins and fiber can lead to high LDL.
- Lack of physical activity: Not getting enough exercise and being sedentary contributes to weight gain and can also push levels up. You may see higher LDL if you dont get a minimum of 30 minutes a day of activity.
- Weight status: Being overweight or obese greatly increases the chances of developing high LDL. Even modest gains in weight can push levels to unhealthy ranges.
- Alcohol and tobacco: Smoking and drinking are both associated with high cholesterol, among many other detrimental effects on health.
- Genetics: High LDL can be inherited, a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia . The severity of FH ranges, but those with the homozygous formin which both parents are carriers of the faulty genemay have extremely high amounts of this type of cholesterol.
- Medications: Taking several classes of drugs can lead to spikes in LDL. These include those for heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, certain viruses, and seizures, among other conditions. Talk to your doctor about how these prescriptions may impact cholesterol.
- Health conditions: Diseases and conditions that cause high LDL include type 2 diabetes, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, and hypothyroidism.
Focus On Monounsaturated Fats
As opposed to saturated fats, unsaturated fats have at least one double chemical bond that changes the way your body uses them. Monounsaturated fats have only one double bond.
Some recommend a low fat diet for weight loss, but research is mixed on its effectiveness in controlling blood cholesterol.
One research report acknowledged that lower fat intake is an effective way to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, researchers were concerned over potential negative effects of low fat diets, such as lowering HDL and increasing triglycerides .
In contrast, research has shown that a diet high in monounsaturated fats, such as the Mediterranean diet, helps reduce levels of harmful LDL and increase levels of healthy HDL .
Monounsaturated fats may also reduce the oxidation of cholesterol, according to research. Oxidized cholesterol can react with free radicals and contribute to clogged arteries. This can lead to atherosclerosis or heart disease .
Overall, monounsaturated fats are healthy because they decrease harmful LDL cholesterol, increase good HDL cholesterol and reduce harmful oxidation (
Monounsaturated fats like those in olive oil, canola oil, tree nuts, and avocados reduce LDL cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol, and reduce the oxidation that contributes to clogged arteries.
Will Stopping Smoking Lower My Cholesterol
If you’re a smoker you might already know you should stop if you have high cholesterol. Smoking increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart attacks and stroke.
- If youre struggling to stop smoking, talking to your GP is a great first step, or if youre in England you can call the NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0300 123 1044.
- There are also free services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
These services will be able to give you useful advice on how to deal with cravings and gradually stop smoking.
Find out more about what smoking does to your body.
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What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad Cholesterol
Last reviewed January 6, 2022
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Cholesterol a waxy substance that builds in the arteries is not completely harmful, despite its reputation for being bad for you. In fact, some of it can even improve your health when consumed in the right amounts.
The physicians at the USC Cardiac and Vascular Institute at Keck Medicine of USC can measure your good cholesterol and bad cholesterol levels, and help you adopt healthier eating and living habits so you can achieve the best balance of both.
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How Can I Lower Cholesterol With Diet
Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include a diet to lower your cholesterol. The DASH eating plan is one example. Another is the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes diet, which recommends that you
Choose healthier fats.You should limit both total fat and saturated fat. No more than 25 to 35% of your daily calories should come from dietary fats, and less than 7% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. Depending upon how many calories you eat per day, here are the maximum amounts of fats that you should eat:
|Calories per Day
Saturated fat is a bad fat because it raises your LDL level more than anything else in your diet. It is found in some meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods, and deep-fried and processed foods.
Trans fat is another bad fat it can raise your LDL and lower you HDL . Trans fat is mostly in foods made with hydrogenated oils and fats, such as stick margarine, crackers, and french fries.
Instead of these bad fats, try healthier fats, such as lean meat, nuts, and unsaturated oils like canola, olive, and safflower oils.
Limit foods with cholesterol. If you are trying to lower your cholesterol, you should have less than 200 mg a day of cholesterol. Cholesterol is in foods of animal origin, such as liver and other organ meats, egg yolks, shrimp, and whole milk dairy products.
Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Foods high in soluble fiber help prevent your digestive tract from absorbing cholesterol. These foods include:
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Your Body Naturally Makes Cholesterol
One of the biggest things we see is that people think their cholesterol levels are more tied to what they eat than they really are, said Dr. Kirley, adding that people tend to think if my cholesterol levels are high, that means I should eat less cholesterol.
The amount of cholesterol that you eat, doesn’t actually impact your own cholesterol very much, she noted. And that’s because your body is making cholesterol. It makes cholesterol no matter what. Even if you eat no cholesterol, your body makes cholesterol.
What you eat matters, but it has less impact on cholesterol levels than a lot of people might realize, Dr. Kirley said.
What Is A Normal Range For Ldl And Hdl Cholesterol
Dr. Lepor states, There is no one size fits all in terms of cholesterol levels, and because high cholesterol has few warning signs, it is important to see a physician for your annual physical to maintain good health. Physicians will assess your risk of heart attack and/or stroke by taking into account your cholesterol levels, family history of heart attack and/or stroke, and other risk factors such as diabetes, smoking and hypertension. The higher your risk of having a heart attack and/or stroke, the lower we want the LDL cholesterol to be.
For most people, we like LDL levels to be lower than 100 mg/dl to prevent heart attack and/or stroke, but in patients who have known heart disease, we now recommend LDL-cholesterol levels to be lower than 70 mg/dl. HDL levels less than 40 mg/dl in men and less than 50 mg/dl in women are risk factors for heart attack and/or stroke. An HDL level greater than 50 mg/dl in women and greater than 40 mg/dl in men is considered a healthy level. And to protect your life and the lives of others, dont visit any of these35 Places Youre Most Likely to Catch COVID.
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Why Should I Lower My Cholesterol
Evidence strongly indicates that high cholesterol can increase the risk of:
- narrowing of the arteries
- transient ischaemic attack often known as a “mini stroke”
- peripheral arterial disease
This is because cholesterol can build up in the artery wall, restricting the blood flow to your heart, brain and the rest of your body. It also increases the risk of a blood clot developing somewhere in your body.
Your risk of developing coronary heart disease also rises as your blood’s cholesterol level increases. This can cause pain in your chest or arm during stress or physical activity .
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol can increase your levels of triglycerides. Along with LDL cholesterol, high levels of triglycerides raise your risk of heart disease.
Excess alcohol consumption also increases blood pressure and can lead to obesity both additional risk factors for heart disease.
To reduce the risk of heart disease and other risks from alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 drinks per day.
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Baked Goods And Sweets
Cookies, cakes and doughnuts usually contain butter or shortening, making them high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
They also tend to be full of sugar, which can lead to high levels of blood triglycerides, an unhealthy blood fat that can be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Instead, make your desserts at home, choosing recipes that dont need shortening or lots of butter. This also allows you to modify recipes and cut down the amount of sugar used, to half or three-quarters the recommended amount. You can also enjoy baked fruit as a dessert, or substitute applesauce for eggs or butter in your baking.
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Are There Any Treatments For High Cholesterol Levels Caused By Genetics
Usually, the first line of treatment for high cholesterol is lifestyle modification, but if you have FH youll need more advanced treatment. Its always important to eat a low-fat diet, exercise and control your weight. Having a healthy lifestyle is crucial for heart health and for overall health, says Martin. However, people with FH could eat an extremely low-fat diet and still not be able to control their cholesterol because theyre genetically unable to handle it. For them, cholesterol is going to build up in the bloodstream regardless of what they eat.
Fortunately, there are medications that can substantially lower LDL cholesterol levels. The most common treatment for FH is statin drug therapy. Statin drugs work by blocking an enzyme that produces cholesterol in the liver and increases your bodys ability to remove cholesterol from the blood. They can lower your LDL cholesterol levels by 50 percent or more. Statins have been safely used to reduce the risk of heart disease for 30 years and continue to be the number one option when it comes to helping people with FH.
Other treatment options include medications that block cholesterol from being absorbed from your intestines into your bloodstream, or drugs that block an enzyme called PCSK9, which reduces the amount of LDL cholesterol in your blood.
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Cut Back On Trans Fats
Trans fats are the worst kind of fats that will make your LDL cholesterol rise to abnormally high levels. They will potentially make you more prone to suffer from Alzheimers disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disorders. Trans fats are present in most ready-made products, fried foods, and baked goods. You will find them mostly in margarine, fries, doughnuts, and cakes, but you should be checking all labels to make sure that there are no trans fats included. Replace margarine with spread based on plant sterols and stanols, which can cut LDL cholesterol by close to 15%.
What Is High Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty molecule that your cells need to function. Your liver makes it, but you can also get cholesterol from the foods you eat.
The term high cholesterol usually refers to the amount of cholesterol being carried in the blood by low-density lipoprotein, or LDL . High LDL levels increase your risk of atherosclerosis, where deposits of cholesterol, calcium and white blood cells produce plaques in the walls of arteries. These plaques can reduce blood flow to vital organs like the heart and brain, and produce serious complications like heart attack and stroke.
There can be many reasons why your cholesterol is high:
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The Link Between Dietary And Blood Cholesterol
The liver produces as much cholesterol as your body needs. It packages cholesterol with fat in whats called very low-density lipoproteins .
As VLDL delivers fat to cells throughout the body, it changes into the more dense LDL, which carries cholesterol wherever it is needed.
The liver also releases HDL, which then carries unused cholesterol back to the liver. This process is called reverse cholesterol transport, and it protects against clogged arteries and other types of heart disease.
Some lipoproteins, especially LDL and VLDL, are prone to damage by free radicals in a process called oxidation. Oxidized LDL and VLDL are even more harmful to heart health .
Although food companies often advertise products as being low in cholesterol, recent research has shown that dietary cholesterol actually has only a small influence on the amount of cholesterol in the body .
This is because the liver changes the amount of cholesterol it makes depending on how much you eat. When your body absorbs more cholesterol from your diet, it makes less in the liver.
Current guidelines by leading U.S. health organizations for lowering risk of heart disease no longer contain specific recommended levels for dietary cholesterol, including the:
- American Heart Association (
The 2020 DGA recommends, for people 2 years old and over, to limit intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of calories per day. They also recommend replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, particularly polyunsaturated fats .
Signs And Symptoms Of High Cholesterol
High cholesterol on its own doesn’t usually cause symptoms. People often don’t realize they have high cholesterol until they get tested. However, the complications that high cholesterol causes do. As arteries and other blood vessels narrow and blood flow is slowed or stopped, every part of your body can be affected.
Uncontrolled high cholesterol can lead to the following complications:
- Atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of fatty deposits in your blood vessels
- Carotid artery disease, which is narrowing of the blood vessels in the neck that carry blood from the heart to the brain
- Coronary heart disease, which is damage or disease in the heart’s major blood vessels
- Peripheral artery disease, which is narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs
Symptoms of these complications can include:
- Fatty deposits of cholesterol visible from under the skin called xanthelasmas
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How Can I Lower My Cholesterol
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to lower your cholesterol. Some people only need some simple lifestyle changes like eating less saturated fat. Others need lifestyle changes plus medication. People with medical conditions that affect their cholesterol may need a more complex approach. Talk with your provider about your medical history, family history and lifestyle factors. Together, youll come up with a plan for lowering your cholesterol numbers.
Remember that even the best plans take time to work. And we all have setbacks. Its OK to struggle, and its also OK to tell your provider when a plan isnt working. Sometimes even the strictest lifestyle changes dont lower your cholesterol numbers enough. Thats because most of your bodys cholesterol is produced by your liver. So, many other factors come into play that are out of your control and have nothing to do with whats on your dinner plate.
Take things one step at a time, and remember that having high cholesterol isnt a personal failure. Its a result of many small changes quietly happening inside your body. Take control of what you can, but know that medications and other medical interventions are there to fill in the gaps.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/24/2022.