Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol, is what you may know as bad cholesterol. High LDL levels can cause heart disease, hypertension and stroke. To lower your LDL levels, avoid foods with saturated fats. Having high levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL cholesterol, is healthy. HDL cholesterol helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood, reducing your risk for disease. Increase your HDL levels by increasing your consumption of unsaturated fats, whole grains and plant-based foods.
HDL and LDL in Oils
The primary source of high blood cholesterol can be traced to saturated fat in your diet, according to the American Heart Association. Foods that are high in saturated fat contain high levels of LDL cholesterol. Animal fat, coconut oil, palm oil, lard and butter are filled with saturated fats and LDL cholesterol. Conversely, unsaturated fats have high levels of HDL cholesterol. Sunflower, olive, corn, soybean and canola oil are high in unsaturated fat. The AHA advises that you limit your intake of fat to about 25 percent of your daily calories, with most of that coming from unsaturated fat.
LDL and HDL in Meat, Poultry and Fish
Beef, pork and lamb are high in saturated fat and are all sources of LDL cholesterol. Processed meats such as sausage, salami and hot dogs also have LDL cholesterol. Poultry has lower levels of LDL cholesterol as long as the skin is removed and it is not cooked in a saturated oil. Fish, such as salmon and cod, are filled with HDL cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol levels.
Foods containing plant sterols have high levels of HDL cholesterol. Plant sterols are cholesterol compounds found naturally in plants. In the January 2008 issue of "Metabolism," Dr. David Jenkins says that foods high in plant sterols reduced LDL levels of patients by 9 to 14 percent. The study evaluated 42 people for 80 weeks. Wheat germ, bran, peanuts, beets, cashews, walnuts and oranges are all high in HDL cholesterol.
Some dairy products have high LDL levels. Heavy cream, butter, cheese, whole milk and products made from whole milk or butterfat are high in saturated fat. In fact, according to the New York State Department of health, along with ground beef, whole milk dairy products are the major source of saturated fat and LDL cholesterol in the United States.
- American Heart Association: Cholesterolrel="nofollow"
- "Metabolism"; Effect of Plant Sterols in Combination with Other Cholesterol-lowering Foods; David Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D.; January 2008
- NY State Department of Health: Risk Factorsrel="nofollow"
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.