You don’t need to avoid foods with cholesterol…except for these
Which is worse for your heart: an egg or a hot dog?
Notice I didn’t ask which is higher in cholesterol. Because the answer to that question is the egg with 187 milligrams, or about 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance. But although hot dogs have less overall cholesterol (about 40 mg), they’re still way worse for your heart.
Protein-rich eggs are full of B vitamins and iron while relatively low in calories and saturated fat, making them an OK choice to include in moderation in a primarily plant-based diet.
So, since the amount of cholesterol in a food doesn’t always correlate with raising your cholesterol, which high cholesterol foods are the worst culprits for elevating bad cholesterol levels? The list is not surprising: You want to steer clear of foods high in cholesterol AND saturated and/or trans fat. It’s the fat type that’s the bigger issue. So, if you want to eat better for your heart and lower your bad cholesterol, eliminate (or drastically limit) these foods:
- Red meat. Yep, that includes burgers, ribs, steak, pork chops. If you don’t want to cut out red meat altogether, focus on small amounts of lean meat (and by small, I’m talking portion size -- 3 ounces) and eat red meat once per week at most. BETTER CHOICE: Think fish and shellfish. Shrimp may be high in cholesterol but so long as you don’t douse it with butter it’ll supply you with plenty of protein while leaving your blood cholesterol alone. Although meat alternatives exist, I’m generally skeptical of engineered foods. To me, plants were never meant to bleed. By the way, poultry also contains saturated fat — so avoiding red meat does not necessarily mean you should just load up on chicken.
- Anything fried. Frying ups the calorie count of foods, and what gets soaked up by the foods in the process is often saturated or trans fat and cholesterol. BETTER CHOICE: Bake potatoes, kale, broccoli to a crisp when you’re craving crunch -- or invest in an air fryer, which uses much less fat.
- Processed meat: The World Health Organization has classified bacon, hot dogs and salami as carcinogens. And processed meat is loaded in sodium and saturated fat. BETTER CHOICE: Fake bacon is unlikely to satisfy your cravings for a BLT. My advice? Cut way back on these products and make them special occasion treats.
- Baked goods: Unfortunately, cookies, cakes and pastries usually contain butter or shortening, so they’re also high in saturated fat and cholesterol. (Not to mention sugar, which is also a big culprit of high cholesterol). Mass-produced baked goods can be especially calorie dense and nutrient poor and contain outsize amounts of fat, especially trans fat, and sugar. BETTER CHOICE: Bake at home, and control the amount and type of fat and sugar you use. You can even cook and bake with your favorite Step One Foods products!
Keep in mind that avoiding these foods will come naturally if you just follow my favorite dietary advice: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
Get heart health tips and articles like this, delivered right to your email.
New articles every week.