When it comes to cholesterol, it can be pretty easy to increase it and not realize it at all. You can end up with more cholesterol than your body needs to function properly.
There are over 94 million adults in America with high cholesterol, which is measured at above 240 mg/dL. This is not exclusively an adult issue, however, as adolescents can also have high cholesterol levels, which puts their health at risk.
High cholesterol levels do not always cause symptoms. A blood test can be used to determine your cholesterol levels. The results are used by doctors to guide your treatment.
In this blog, we discuss cholesterol, the dangers of a high cholesterol diet, and the foods to avoid to manage your cholesterol levels.
What Is Cholesterol? Is It Always Bad?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that is found in many foods and is naturally produced by the liver. It is used by the body to build cells, insulate nerve fibers, digest fat, and produce hormones and vitamin D. Therefore, your body needs it to stay alive.
However, you can have too much cholesterol. This can cause plaque buildup in your arteries. A high-cholesterol diet is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. It may not cause symptoms, and often, a person’s first symptom is a heart attack or stroke, which makes it a very serious problem.
What Are the Dangers of a High Cholesterol Diet?
There is a distinction between normal amounts of cholesterol and a high cholesterol diet, and there are cholesterol-containing foods that may not raise your heart disease risk.
A high cholesterol diet can contribute to high levels of LDL cholesterol, which is more fat than protein, and is referred to as bad cholesterol. LDL transports cholesterol away from the liver and into the bloodstream. It collects and sticks to the walls of your arteries. The buildup is called atherosclerosis and results in dangerous narrowing and blockages in the arteries.
You can have a higher risk of high cholesterol levels due to your genes, certain medical conditions, and certain lifestyle factors. If you are already at risk for the condition, managing your cholesterol intake can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
What Foods Should You Avoid to Lower Cholesterol Levels?
Avoiding foods that are high in saturated and trans fats may help improve your cholesterol levels and overall health.
Here are certain foods you shoukld limit in your diet:
- Red meat: beef, pork, and lamb
- Processed meats: sausages, bacon, hotdogs, and deli meats
- Full-fat dairy: whole milk, cheese, and butter
- Fried foods, such as fried chicken, French fries, and other foods that are cooked in a deep fryer
- Baked goods: cakes, pies, cookies, muffins, doughnuts, and other pastries
For a heart-healthy, low-cholesterol diet, incorporate more:
- Hydrating greens like spinach
- High-fiber foods, such as beans and broccoli
- Whole grains like oats and brown rice
- Fruits and berries like blueberries and oranges
- Nuts like walnuts and almonds
- Polyunsaturated fats found in vegetable oils, such as olive oils
- Lean fish and skinless poultry
If you have high cholesterol, it’s important to talk to a doctor before making any dietary changes. A primary care provider can help you make the right food choices and tailor your diet to your specific needs. A more realistic goal is to make lasting changes in your lifestyle and not just aim for quick results.
Internal Medicine Specialist for High Cholesterol in Dallas, TX
Our internal medicine specialists at Prime Internal Medicine Associates can help you reach your health goals, including managing your cholesterol levels. We can test your cholesterol levels in our office, review your lifestyle and medical history, and start from there.
Our board-certified internal medicine doctor, Dr. Shalini Katikaneni, provides holistic care, which includes nutritional guidance and meal planning around foods that you enjoy eating on a daily basis. Rest assured, you have a compassionate and supportive medical staff behind you and throughout your journey to better health.