High Cholesterol Foods: 5 Surprising Foods That May Raise Your Cholesterol Levels

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A fat-like substance that is produced naturally by your body and carried by special proteins called lipoproteins, cholesterol is needed for a variety of functions, including the formation of cell membranes and production of certain hormones, vitamin D and bile acids.

Cholesterol levels can tip on the high end when your body makes more than what it needs, or if you consume a diet high in fat and cholesterol, as your body does not adjust its own production accordingly.

You probably already know that high saturated foods such as butter, lard, cream and fatty meats are the usual suspects that will cause a spike in your cholesterol level, but there are some surprising food choices which contribute to this as well:

 

High Cholesterol Foods – #1. Nuts

foods that may raise cholesterol levels

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Often regarded as a healthy alternative for snacks, turns out, not all nuts are created equal as there is a big difference in the saturated fat levels. Brazil nuts have the highest saturated fat content with 4.1g of saturated fat in a 25g serving. This is almost four times more than “healthier” nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts, with only 1.1g of saturated fat per 25g of almonds.

 

High Cholesterol Foods – #2. Yogurt

foods that may raise cholesterol levels

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A healthy breakfast favourite, yogurt is known for its high calcium and protein content, and most importantly, the presence of probiotics which aids in digestion and promotes good gut health. However, you might want to be wary if you go for full-fat Greek yogurt instead, as a 150g pot packs 7.2g of saturated fat. This translates to more than a third of a woman’s recommended daily fat allowance.

 

High Cholesterol Foods – #3. Milk

foods that may raise cholesterol levels

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

According to Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, a registered American dietician/nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet, milk is a nutrient powerhouse as it is packed with nine essential nutrients – calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, riboflavin and niacin. However, she warned that as with the food that we eat, certain types of milk may not be the best choice due to its saturated fat content.

For example, opting for the full fat versions can be a bad choice for your cholesterol levels as a small 100ml glass of whole milk contains 2.5g of saturated fat. For a healthier choice, Gans recommends non-fat or 1 percent milk – the same 100ml glass of non-fat milk contains only 0.1g of saturated fat.

 

High Cholesterol Food – #4. Coffee

foods that may raise cholesterol levels

(Photo: Pinterest)

Coffee in its original form and flavour post no health risk nor affect cholesterol, but everything changes when you go for options that are laden with milk and cream. For example, a 200ml latte that contains a layer of milk has up to 5g of saturated fat. To stay on the safe side, it is best to choose black coffee or go for an Americano with just a splash of milk to keep the saturated fat and calories under control.

 

High Cholesterol Foods – #5. Oil

foods that may raise cholesterol levels

(Photo: Pinterest)

Helen Bond, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, warns us to be careful when choosing the oil we use for cooking and in salad dressings. “Oils from the tropics can be incredibly high in saturated fats. Coconut oil [has] around 9g per tablespoon, whereas olive [has] around 2g and grapeseed oil around 1g,” she states.

To keep your our cholesterol levels on track, Bond advised that we use healthier cooking methods when preparing our meals, such fry drying or using a light oil spray to lower the saturated fat content. You can also take it a step further by removing extra fat from meat and skin from poultry before cooking.

 

Related article: Cholesterol: Everything You Need to Know & Tips to Improve your Cholesterol Profile

 

Reviewed by Dr Herbert Tan, General Practitioner and Resident Doctor of MindChamps Medical @ OneKM.

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