When you hear the word cholesterol, what comes to mind? For many, cholesterol is associated with something negative, and something you want to avoid. Many people also immediately think of things like egg yolks when it comes to foods high in cholesterol. But, what is it exactly?
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in your body and believe it or not, it actually plays an important role in overall health. Cholesterol is responsible for supporting cell membrane strength and flexibility and is important for supporting hormone production. (1)
The problem with cholesterol is that the liver produces all of the cholesterol that the body needs, but we can also get cholesterol from our diet through the consumption of animal-based products. And, while the body will balance the cholesterol levels out by reducing what the body naturally makes when you consume excess cholesterol, many cholesterol-rich foods aren’t healthy. (2)
With that being said, foods naturally high in cholesterol such as egg yolks, sardines, organ meats, and full-fat unsweetened yogurt aren’t necessarily going to cause issues with high cholesterol. That’s because dietary intake of cholesterol generally isn’t going to greatly affect the cholesterol levels in your body. (3) However, that doesn’t mean you should consume all high-cholesterol foods as some come with additional cardiovascular health risks.
Let’s take a look at the high-cholesterol foods you will definitely want to avoid whether you have high cholesterol or not.
High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid
- Fried Foods: Fried and processed foods should be avoided for a number of reasons, and their damaged fat content happens to be one of them. Many fried foods also contain trans-fat which can be detrimental to overall health and may even increase your risk of heart disease. (4)
- Sweets: Dessert foods like cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies may not only be high in cholesterol, but they are also loaded with sugar and inflammatory ingredients. Steer clear of these foods, and choose healthier options like fresh fruit or a piece of 70% or darker dark chocolate if you are craving something sweet.
- Processed Meats: Processed meats such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, hamburgers, these are all full of damaging fats and high in cholesterol. Not only that, but these foods have been found to increase the risk of cancer. (5)
The Bottom Line
Not all high cholesterol foods are bad. Things like eggs, sardines, and organ meats are actually loaded with nutritional value. It’s the processed foods that are full of damaged fats that you will want to avoid. These foods come with their own set of health risks related to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and inflammation, so be sure to keep these out of your diet. Instead, focus on a nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory diet, and don’t worry as much about having the whole egg vs. just the egg white. It’s the processed foods we need to be concerned about when it comes to cholesterol and inflammation in the body.
About The Author
Rebecca Jacobs N.C is a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant, specializing in digestive and women's health. She doesn't believe in dieting but rather making lifestyle changes, and believes that healthy eating must be delicious. Rebecca is also a recipe developer and creates healthier alternatives to traditionally unhealthy foods.