3 Foods That Secretly Raise Your Cholesterol Over Time

3 Foods That Secretly Raise Your Cholesterol Over Time

If a doctor has told you that you have high cholesterol or you know that you are predisposed to possibly developing high cholesterol in the future, knowing how to best monitor your body’s cholesterol levels can sometimes seem crushing. But managing your cholesterol levels is vital, because high cholesterol over time can lead to other health complications.

“Cholesterol is a natural and necessary substance in the body that is used to make regular cells and hormones, among other tasks,” explains Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, and consultant for Balance One Supplements. “However, too much cholesterol circulating in the body can be dangerous and puts the individual at risk for heart disease and stroke.”

So what causes high cholesterol? Unfortunately, some unavoidable factors can play a role in this, such as genetics and age. But research has also shown that lifestyle can also significantly influence your cholesterol levels.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that genetics plays a bigger role in how the body processes cholesterol and the risk of high cholesterol,” Best says. “Yet certain eating habits can exacerbate or lead to high cholesterol.”

One of the most common myths or misconceptions about cholesterol and diet is that high cholesterol foods are what you need to limit. However, dietary cholesterol actually has a much less impact on your body’s cholesterol levels than people previously thought. Research from the Mayo Clinic suggests that diets high in saturated and trans fats have a greater impact on your cholesterol than the cholesterol found in food.

Read on to learn about some foods that can secretly raise your cholesterol levels over time, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 7 Ugly Side Effects of Eating Red Meat Every Day.

fried food


Eating fried foods regularly will not only increase your fat and calorie intake; it can also cause cholesterol to rise over time.

“Foods that have been fried are higher in fat than if they had been prepared differently. They often also contain trans fats, which are harmful to heart health,” says Best.

To avoid the added oils that are most often used with fried foods, try broiling or baking your food instead.

Baked goods

Baked goods, especially those that are prepackaged and processed, often contain many ingredients that raise your cholesterol levels over time.

“These items are at risk of raising cholesterol, primarily for their fat and refined carbohydrate content,” Best says. “The type of carbohydrates used can increase triglycerides in the blood and cause inflammation in the body which can ultimately put individuals at risk for arterial damage and greater risk of cholesterol buildup. And the cooking oils used , such as butter or shortening, can also raise blood cholesterol levels.”

It is essential to notice this combination of refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, one of the most important factors in your blood cholesterol level is not the actual cholesterol in your diet, but rather a combination of unhealthy fats and carbohydrates.

Processed red meat

sausage and bacon breakfast

Processed meats like sausage, deli meats, and bacon are known to be much higher in saturated fat and sodium than many other types of meat, making them especially tricky for those watching their cholesterol levels.

According to a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseasesregular consumption of processed meat was associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

In general, research has historically shown that consistently eating processed meats can have a negative impact on your heart health, beyond just raising your cholesterol levels. For example, a 2021 report published in Critical journals in food science and nutrition found that daily consumption of processed meat was associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

RELATED: 4 Best Snacking Habits to Lower Cholesterol

BONUS: Excessive alcohol consumption

Some research has shown that light alcohol consumption can benefit your heart health, but regular alcohol consumption is also linked to the potential increase in cholesterol levels. Overall, heavy alcohol consumption is one of the main factors for an increased risk of problems that impact cardiovascular health, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease. When drinking alcohol, it is important to consider other lifestyle factors, such as your diet and exercise routine, genetic and medical history, etc., to ensure you drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation, if at all.

Last takeaways

While consuming these foods and beverages as a one-time treat for a special occasion is unlikely to immediately affect your cholesterol, it is clear that regular, long-term consumption of these foods could raise your cholesterol in the first place. over time. However, monitoring and limiting the amount of fried foods, processed meats, processed baked goods, and alcohol you consume each day can help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Combined with other healthy eating habits and diets that support a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and following your doctor’s recommendations based on your specific healthcare needs, this can have a positive effect on your cholesterol level as well as on your general state of health.

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