According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people with high cholesterol levels are much more likely to be at risk for coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis and stroke. One of the best ways to lower your blood cholesterol level–and avoid these life-threatening medical conditions–is through a diet that emphasizes low-saturated fat and low-cholesterol foods and downplays foods that cause cholesterol levels to increase. The main foods to avoid if you are trying to lower your cholesterol level are commercially baked goods, whole milk dairy products, fried foods and meat with high levels of saturated fat.
Commercially Baked Goods
Commercially baked goods–doughnuts, cookies, crackers and snack cakes–contain large amounts of trans fats. Trans fats are industrially produced by the addition of hydrogen to vegetable oil; the result is a long-lasting, more-solid oil that helps commercially baked goods last longer and taste better. Unfortunately, consuming these trans fats is directly linked to an increase in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and a decrease in HDL (“good”) cholesterol, as well as an overall increase in circulating blood cholesterol levels. Avoiding foods that list trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils is an excellent first step toward lowering your cholesterol levels.
Whole milk and whole milk dairy products, such as full-fat cheese, yogurt, sour cream and ice cream, contain high levels of both saturated fat and cholesterol. Diets high in saturated fat are directly linked to increased blood cholesterol levels. The same is true for diets that include foods with high-cholesterol content. Whenever possible, substitute skim milk for whole milk and low-fat dairy products for those made with whole milk.
Another excellent way to lower your cholesterol levels is to avoid deep-fried foods, especially commercially fried foods. French fries, fried chicken and fried seafood all contain large amounts of saturated fat because of the hydrogenated oils they are fried in. Choose meat and vegetables prepared in ways that incorporate only small amounts of unsaturated fats, such as olive or canola oil.
Prepared and highly processed meats, such as lunch meat, pepperoni, bacon or hot dogs, also contain large amounts of the saturated fat that can cause LDL cholesterol levels to rise.