21 Foods People With High Cholesterol Should Avoid


If you have issues with high cholesterol, then you should already know that you need to be watching what you eat. Here are 21 foods that you need to stay away from completely if you want to keep your cholesterol levels down.


It makes sense that something as greasy as butter would be on top of the list of worst foods for high cholesterol. The question of the role of butter in the battle against high cholesterol has been re-examined over the recent years, with some experts claiming butter isn’t really all that bad after all, but most others still agree that if you want to lower your cholesterol levels you should seriously cut down on butter or, even better, cut it out completely.

A 100 gr serving of butter contains 215 milligrams of cholesterol, which is a lot. If you have high cholesterol, spreading butter on your toast, baked potatoes and pancakes is a bad idea. You are already getting plenty of butter in various baked goods and meals, so eating plain butter as a topping only adds up to the already high cumulative value of this food. But if you cut butter, don’t think that replacing it with margarine is a good idea – margarine is almost just as bad, if not worse.



Processed meats are absolutely unhealthy and bad for you, from whichever angle you’re looking at it. They are full of sodium, additives, preservatives and often hormones and antibiotics too.

With the exception of some high-quality and artisanal products, the actual meat content in processed and deli meats such as sausages, pates and hot dogs is sometimes so low it’s criminal they still get to be called “meat.” And on top of that, they are terrible for your cholesterol levels.

One of the main reasons why processed meats are bad for cholesterol is that they are almost never lean. They are usually packed with fats, especially if we’re talking about bacon and sausage. Bologna, salami and similar deli meats also have a high fat content, even though you can’t actually see the white fat spots in them. The fats can be hidden, and so can other harmful substances that are usually found in processed meats.



There was a time when liver was considered the healthiest, most nutritious part of an animal, and a real delicacy. Liver may be tasty when prepared well (although it depends on your taste and preferences), but it’s in no way healthy. Liver is, in fact, one of the foods with the highest cholesterol content out there.

Liver does contain plenty of iron, but there’s not enough iron in this world to make up for the cholesterol levels in this animal product. Like most organ meats, liver is packed with cholesterol, which is actually the organ where cholesterol is produced and stored.

The American Heart Association recommends the maximum amount of 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day, and just three ounces of liver contain 331 milligrams of it. This means that if you eat three ounces of liver, you should avoid all other cholesterol sources for the entire day and stick with carrots and fruit instead. You decide whether it’s worth it.



French fries are greasy, starchy, loaded with calories and have almost none of the vitamins and other vital nutrients our body requires to stay healthy. Yes, they are delicious, yes, they can be addictive, but they are also detrimental for your overall health, especially your cholesterol levels.

What makes French fries bad for people with high cholesterol is not the main thing they’re made of – the potatoes. Potatoes are actually completely fine, as long as they are cooked properly. And by “properly” we most definitely don’t mean “fried in gallons of boiling oil.”

It’s the hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that make the cholesterol content in French fries so high. Fries are usually made with palm, corn, soybean or canola oil, all of which are loaded with trans fats, directly linked to high cholesterol and other enemies of cardiovascular health. So, say adios to fries and opt for some nice baked or boiled potatoes instead!



For a long time, people thought that margarine, being made from a vegetable source instead of a dairy one, is a much healthier alternative to butter. Boy, were they wrong. Today we know that, while both butter and margarine are detrimental for your cholesterol levels, margarine is actually way worse.

First of all, margarine is a highly artificial product, unlike butter. You can churn your margarine at home. It’s a processed, industrial food made with loads of harmful additives. But we’re here to talk about cholesterol, and margarine is horrible in that department as well, especially the hard stick variety.

Margarine is made from partially hydrogenated oils, which, as we mentioned earlier, are packed with trans fats. Trans fats (or trans fatty acids) raise the levels of your bad cholesterol and lower your good cholesterol, so they are twice as bad for you, especially if we’re talking about blood vessels.



People usually think that shellfish is good for you, but the truth is that people with high cholesterol issues should actually avoid it. Some kinds of seafood are good, of course, especially the kinds of fish that are high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. However, some shellfish, for example lobster and several other crustaceans, are loaded with cholesterol and should be excluded from any cholesterol-lowering diet.

Not only that shellfish contains a lot of cholesterol (three ounces of lobster contains 61 milligrams of cholesterol) but the way it’s prepared and served usually makes things even worse. Lobster is usually served with butter and many other kinds of shellfish are usually fried, which adds up to the total amount of cholesterol in a shellfish dish. If you really like shellfish but have to take care of your cholesterol, avoid fried shellfish dishes and opt for broiled instead.



Saying that all muffins are bad would be generalizing, but the fact is that most of them, especially if they are not homemade, are packed with cholesterol (and other unhealthy stuff) and should be avoided if you want to keep your cholesterol at bay.

Muffins are made with fat. You can’t make muffins without butter, margarine or oil, all of which are bad for cholesterol. Butter is basically pure saturated fat, and hydrogenated oils, such as margarine, as well as vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, etc) contain trans fatty acids.

Store-bought muffins are particularly bad, because the manufacturers usually put all sorts of things in there to improve their flavor. If you can’t say no to these delicious little fellas, homemade muffins, made with low fat ingredients and whole wheat flour, are a much better, healthier choice. Most importantly, you get to control what’s in them and what you’re eating, and that’s very important.



One of America’s favorite foods is, coincidentally, one of the worst possible foods to eat if you have high cholesterol. Chicken itself is not at all bad, especially lean cuts like skinless breast, but fried chicken is a whole different story.

Fried chicken is prepared by dipping a piece of chicken in a batter made of flour and eggs, among other things. The chicken is then fried in deep oil. The result is a delicious, crispy, golden piece of yumminess, but alas, its cholesterol content seems to be directly proportionate to its deliciousness.

And the parts of the chicken you use for frying matter too. For example, one chicken leg with the skin on has more cholesterol than, say, ice cream. Dark meat is fattier than white meat, so drumsticks are naturally a less health-conscious choice. So bottom line is, chicken is okay as long as you make it white and skinless and don’t deep-fry it. Everything else increases your cholesterol levels significantly.



Experts say that homemade unsalted popcorn is actually quite a healthy snack. It’s a wholegrain food, rich in fiber and other important nutrients found in corn. However, microwave corn is not nearly as good for you. In fact, it’s actually harmful, especially for people who already suffer from high cholesterol.

One of the problems with microwave popcorn is that it’s loaded with salt, butter and oil. Oil is unfortunately necessary in the popcorn making process, but butter and too much salt aren’t. All that stuff makes the cholesterol content in microwave popcorn quite high and the same goes for any kind of popcorn doused in melted butter, cheese and other toppings.

If you have high cholesterol that you’re trying to fight but can’t imagine watching a movie or going to the cinema without a huge bag of popcorn, try the unsalted, butter-free option instead – it can be just as delicious and not nearly as bad for you as the microwave kind.



How come that most of the nation’s favorite foods are so bad for us? First the French fries, now the burgers. It’s a shame, but it needs to be said – people who have high cholesterol should not eat hamburgers, especially cheeseburgers and burgers with bacon.

Fast food chain burgers are particularly bad. Most fast food places use too much oil to cook their burgers, and the oil is often reused (reheated) several times. Burger patties are not fried, of course, they are grilled, but there is still a lot of oil used in the process.

As for the cholesterol, a research shown that the cholesterol content in the burgers made by some of the most popular fast food chains goes from 95 milligrams per burger (Big Mac) to a staggering 175 milligrams (Wendy’s Classic Double with Everything). If you can’t resist eating burgers, at least make them at home, where you can control the ingredients. And skip the cheese and bacon.



People with high cholesterol really have it bad. They have to give up all the best stuff in the world. Even ice cream. Yes, ice cream is full of cholesterol and should be banned from any decent cholesterol-reducing diet. Ice cream is the world’s most beloved dessert, even more so than cake, cookies and muffins.

But, as we know very well, people have a tendency to prefer unhealthy foods to the healthy ones, so it comes as no surprise that ice cream is literally loaded with cholesterol. It is estimated that an average cup of ice cream contains more cholesterol than an entire burger and, even more incredibly, more cholesterol than ten glazed donuts.

It sounds insane but it’s true. Just because ice cream isn’t greasy, it doesn’t mean it’s not loaded with cholesterol. So, people who are trying to lower their cholesterol lever should really refrain from this delicious frozen dessert and choose healthier stuff instead – a nice fruit salad or a small piece of dark chocolate.


12. EGGS

The question of the impact of eggs on the cholesterol levels is one of the most debated ones in the science of nutrition. Decades ago, experts unanimously agreed that eggs contribute to elevated levels of bad cholesterol in blood, but today many claim that eggs don’t deserve this kind of reputation.

The “two eggs per week” recommendation doesn’t seem to apply any longer, but no one can deny the actual cholesterol content in eggs, especially in the yolk, which is why people with high cholesterol are still advised to be moderate when it comes to eggs.

In fact, the only thing that the experts actually agree upon is that moderation is the key. Eggs are no longer banned from the breakfast table, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can eat tons of them each day. Healthy people can eat more than just one or two eggs a week, but those who have high cholesterol should still be careful and limit their consumption of egg, whether we’re talking about breakfast or eggs used to make other food, such as pancakes, batter and similar.



Can you imagine a bagel without cream cheese? Well, if you have high cholesterol, you’ll probably have to.

Experts say that one ounce of cream cheese can contain up to 30 milligrams of cholesterol, depending on the type and the brand. And this doesn’t just include cream cheese that you spread on your toast or your bagel – cream cheese is used in a variety of baked goods, too, so it adds up to the overall amount of cholesterol you consume throughout the day.

Cream cheese is delicious, no one is denying that. But much like cheese, ice cream and other dairy goodies, it is full of cholesterol and, as such, it should be reduced, if not avoided completely. Cream cheese is not particularly good even for the healthiest people, but those who already have high cholesterol should consider healthier spreads, for example hummus, pesto, avocado or cottage cheese.


14. GHEE

If butter is bad for cholesterol, then ghee is twice as bad. You may not know exactly what ghee is, but if you are a fan of Indian cuisine, you definitely had it before. Ghee is a very important part of Indian cooking. It is basically clarified butter, which is literally loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol.

Ghee is made by melting butter and using the clarified liquid that separates once the butter is nice and melted. When it cools down, it becomes solid again, and it is placed in a jar and used for cooking and, in Indian traditional medicine, for healing various ailments.

Beneficial properties of ghee aside, the fact is that it is loaded with saturated fats and palmitic acid, which makes it bad for people with high cholesterol. Avoid using ghee when cooking and find out which Indian dishes are normally made with ghee, so you can avoid them too.



So far we learned that some kinds of seafood, processed and deli meats and fried chicken are bad for your cholesterol levels. Now it’s time to talk about red meat. Every doctor will tell you that red meat should be avoided for a number of reasons. A high cholesterol content is one of them.

Red meat is, basically, the meat that is red when raw. This includes beef, lamb and pork, among others. It is widely believed that red meat is detrimental for cardiovascular health, that it is associated with some types of cancer, arthritis and high blood pressure.

And it certainly contains way more cholesterol and saturated fats than white meat. One way to still enjoy red meat while trying to lower your cholesterol levels is to choose lean cuts, like sirloin, to carefully trim all the white (fat) parts and to limit the consumption to once per week, in smaller portions.



The same thing we said for muffins applies here, only it extends to the entire family of commercially sold baked goods – all the cakes, pies, pastries, donuts and such that are not homemade or coming from a trusted bakery.

Basically, all the baked goods that you buy in a supermarket are literally loaded with cholesterol, among other things. There is no doctor in this world that would recommend them to anyone suffering from high cholesterol, hypertension or high blood sugar.

Store-bought cakes, pastries and cookies are usually (or, almost exclusively) made with hydrogenated vegetable fats, i.e. margarine or vegetable oil. We already know that these are detrimental for your cholesterol levels. If not margarine, then it’s butter, and it’s the same story, since butter is one of the ingredients with the highest cholesterol content. If you have high cholesterol, try to stay away from commercial baked goods, no matter how yummy they are.



Fish is good for you, right? Well, yes and no. Fish is full of minerals, vitamins and, most importantly, the Omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutritionists recommend eating fish at least once a week because of these properties. However, people who have high cholesterol levels should know that some kinds of fish actually can do more harm than good, at least when it comes to cholesterol.

All fish contains some amount of cholesterol, but some kinds have more than the others. For example, salted cod contains 43% of the recommended daily value of cholesterol, sardines in oil have 39%, sea trout has 30% and herring has 28%. Fish oils should also be taken in consideration, since they too can be high in cholesterol, especially salmon, menhaden and cod liver oils. If you are trying to get your Omega-3 fix but at the same time have to take care of your cholesterol, avoid these and go for a nice piece of tuna (canned in water!) instead.



Cheese is a tricky thing. It’s delicious, almost addictive, it can be healthy and beneficial but it can also be detrimental for your health. Again, we’re not talking about all kinds of cheese – for example, cottage cheese contains only a small amount of cholesterol.

Full-fat cheese, naturally, contains the most cholesterol of all types of cheese. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of cheese the world loves the most. Some of the cheeses with the highest amount of cholesterol include cheddar, gouda, colby, feta, fontina, gruyere, asiago, gorgonzola and, of course, the American cheese.

So, you may want to cut down on these and either avoid cheese altogether (sigh…) or go for skimmed ricotta, cottage cheese or even mozzarella. However, if you are eating cheese-based dishes, such as mac and cheese, bear in mind that there are other ingredients in there, such as eggs and butter, that are high in cholesterol and that add up to the total daily value.


19. MAYO

If you can’t imagine eating a tuna sandwich or French fries without mayonnaise, we have to remind you that this condiment is full of cholesterol. And how could it not be, when it’s main ingredients are whole eggs and vegetable oil? A 100 gr serving of mayonnaise contains 42 grams of cholesterol.

Of course, no one in their right mind would eat 100 grams of mayo in one sitting, but it’s still a lot. And remember, mayonnaise is the main ingredient in many other condiments, sauces and dressings, so you have to be careful about that too.

Another thing that you should be careful about when it comes to mayonnaise is it’s safety. Mayo is made from raw eggs, and with raw eggs there’s always a risk of bacterial poisoning, such as salmonella. Only buy mayonnaise from trusted sources, or, better yet, make it yourself. That is, of course, if you can’t make yourself give up this delicious but greasy and unhealthy condiment.


20. LARD

Lard is making a big comeback these days, with many experts claiming that in some ways it’s better and safer for your health than vegetable oils and butter. While it’s true that pork lard contains less fatty acids than butter, since it’s made of 60% monounsaturated fats, it also contains a lot of cholesterol – 97 milligrams per 100 grams of the stuff.

In some cultures, lard is more widely used than oil or butter. It is used for frying and baking, just like other kinds of fat. It’s not the most commonly used kind of fat in most Western countries, but if you do use lard a lot for cooking and you have high cholesterol, you should probably reconsider your choices or at least talk to a nutritionist. Lard is definitely getting rid of its bad reputation, but that doesn’t mean that its cholesterol content all of a sudden disappeared.



Many people think that if they avoid fatty meats, butter and dairy and stick to the veggies and vegetable oils, they’ll be safe from high cholesterol. That’s a huge mistake since we know that vegetable oils can be just as bad for cholesterol as animal fats, if not worse. And palm oil is among the worst.

Palm oil has been used for cooking for millennia around the world. Today, it’s one of the most widely used cooking oils, especially for deep-frying. In fact, most fast food chains in the world use palm oil for most of their frying. This oil is made of 50% saturated oil, which is associated with elevated cholesterol levels and, consequently, with coronary disease.

There was even a study that showed that saturated fats in vegetable oils are worse for cholesterol than those in animal sources, due to their structure. Considering all this, you might want to consider adding palm oil to the long list of reasons why you shouldn’t eat at fast food restaurants any more.

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