Are eggs good for you? Is bacon really bad? A lot of us have unanswered questions about what we should and shouldn’t be eating when it comes to our cholesterol. Unfortunately, the answers are not always simple or easy to understand. The fact is that there are foods that can raise your cholesterol level and others that can lower it.
Eating some foods that are high in cholesterol can be okay because the amount of cholesterol you eat does not make as much of a difference to your total blood cholesterol levels. For example, eating one egg will raise your blood cholesterol level very slightly. However, if you cut back on the bacon and ham sandwiches for lunch and have an egg instead, your total cholesterol will be lower. You have to look at the overall diet and realize that all types of foods affect the body differently.
What is cholesterol and why is it important to eat foods containing it?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in every cell of the human body. It plays an important role by forming the building blocks for hormones and vitamin D, which help to regulate heart health, blood pressure and brain function. It’s also important to remember that not all cholesterol is “bad”.
Therefore, it is important to only focus on “bad” or “high” cholesterol foods. According to guidelines set by the American Heart Association (AHA), you should eat foods that are high in cholesterol with caution, as they can raise your blood cholesterol level. They do not recommend completely eliminating these types of food from your daily diet. The AHA suggests limiting your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol to three to four times per week.
Foods High in Cholesterol to Avoid
Fried and Processed Meats
Not all types of meat are equal, so it’s important to think about the preparation methods when trying to determine how many of these food items are safe to eat. For example, fried chicken wings are going to have more cholesterol than a grilled chicken breast.
In general, you should avoid processed meat products that contain nitrates and try to replace these with leaner proteins like fish.
Products like ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese — almost anything made from milk — are high in cholesterol. Several studies have shown that the fat found in dairy can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level, so avoid eating these products on a regular basis.
Liver and Organ Meats
If you’re the type of person who likes to eat steak tartare or liver and onions from time to time, then don’t worry about it. However, if you’re not accustomed to eating these types of foods regularly — even the lean versions — then they are high in cholesterol and should be avoided. Organ meats like liver contain too many saturated fats that can harm our heart health.
High-Cholesterol Foods That You Can Eat
You can safely add eggs to your diet as long as you don’t overdo it. One large egg contains about 186 milligrams of cholesterol — a relatively small amount, but an amount that is easy to exceed if you really enjoy consuming them on a daily basis. Eggs are considered healthy when consumed in moderation because they are a good source of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and high-quality protein.
According to the AHA cholesterol guidelines, it’s okay to have up to two eggs per day as long as they are not fried or prepared with butter or cream sauce. As a matter of fact, research indicates that eggs may actually lower your blood cholesterol if eaten in moderation, so enjoy a couple of eggs omelets per week.
The kind of cheese you eat matters because there are several different types and varieties. According to the AHA cholesterol guidelines, you can have up to 1.5 ounces of string cheese daily as long as it contains very little saturated fat.
The general rule when eating high-cholesterol foods is to avoid cheese products that contain saturated fat. The best types of cheese are the ones made from low-fat milk or skim milk and have been aged for a short period of time.
You can help your heart by eating the right foods. It’s important to know what you should be avoiding and what is okay for you, as well as which high-cholesterol foods are healthy options. Make sure that you’re always taking care of yourself so that you don’t encounter any health problems in the future!