Cholesterol Shockers

Foods Labeled ‘Low Cholesterol’

Chicken Dish with BroccoliWhen you’re shopping and you see an item that says it’s low in cholesterol, you still need to check the nutrition label. If it’s high in saturated fat, it can raise your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Also check the serving size. It might be smaller than you think, and if you eat too much, you’ll get more cholesterol than you realized.

Coffee

Your morning cup of joe just might give your cholesterol level an unwanted jolt. French press or Turkish coffee lets through cafestol, which raises levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. Espresso does too, but serving sizes are small, so there’s less to worry about.  If you drink drip coffee, you’re in the clear. The filter catches cafestol, so stick to drip.

Thai Takeout

Thai food is spicy and delicious, but it can raise your cholesterol if you don’t choose carefully. The secret ingredient? Coconut milk. It makes curries smooth, and it’s high in saturated fat. Scan the menu instead for stir fries or noodle dishes, and ask to have your dinner steamed or made with vegetable oil. Choose chicken rather than beef, throw in some extra veggies, and enjoy your takeout guilt-free.

Granola

Do you hear “granola” and think “health food”?  That chewy, crunchy goodness often comes with a hefty serving of saturated fat. Even brands of “low-fat” granola can be higher in saturated fat than some other kinds of cereal. A whole-grain cereal topped with fresh fruit may be a better choice.

Shrimp

You’ve probably heard seafood is a good choice when you’re watching cholesterol. That’s true, but shrimp is an exception. One serving, even if you cook it without fat, has about 190 milligrams of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day, or 200 milligrams per day if you have heart disease or high cholesterol. Try the scallops instead. They have less than a quarter of the cholesterol of shrimp.

Flour Tortillas

To build a better taco, you have to start with the foundation. Flour tortillas — even the whole wheat ones — may sound like the best choice, but they’re not. They’re higher in saturated fat than corn tortillas. (Assuming you don’t fry your corn tortillas in oil, of course.) Start with a corn tortilla (check the label to make sure it wasn’t made with lard) and add those healthy toppings: grilled chicken, juicy tomatoes, and chopped lettuce.

Organ meats

“Nose to tail” eating may be trendy in the restaurant world, but it could leave your cholesterol trending up. Organ meats such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads are higher in cholesterol than other cuts of meat. Beef liver is high in iron, though there are other foods that aren’t organs that give you iron. Enjoying a 3-ounce portion once a month is OK. 

Stick Margarine

Butter vs. margarine can be a tricky choice. Both have saturated fats and should be used sparingly. But here’s the easy part: If you’re using margarine, choose soft tub margarine rather than the stick variety. Tub varieties are lower in fats and are better for your LDL or “bad” cholesterol level. Read the nutrition label, and look for one low in saturated fats and with no trans fat.

Pasta

The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol, right? And it is, as long as you make the right choices. Think marinara or marsala, not meatballs, and linguine with clams, not lasagna. As long as you steer clear of sauces with butter or cream bases and avoid pastas stuffed with meat or cheeses, pasta can be a healthy part of your diet. Just don’t eat too much.

Energy Bars

They’re marketed for people who work out, so energy bars have to be a good choice, right? Maybe. Check the nutrition label. You might be surprised at the amount of saturated fat in some. Look out for those with tropical oils like palm oil and palm kernel oil, which add saturated fat.

Ghee

Indian food can be a fine choice, but only if you hold the ghee. What is ghee? It’s clarified butter — and that means saturated fats and cholesterol. How much? One tablespoon of ghee has 33 milligrams of cholesterol, about 11% of the recommended daily amount.  It’s a staple of Indian cooking, so if you’re eating out, ask your server how much ghee is in your dish, and if you’re cooking, check the recipe to make sure it fits your diet.

Duck

If chicken and turkey are good low-cholesterol choices, duck should be too, right? Not so. Duck and goose are both higher in cholesterol than chicken and turkey. One cup of cooked duck or goose — even with the skin removed — has about 128 milligrams of cholesterol. The same portion of chicken has only 113 milligrams of cholesterol, and turkey is an even better choice at 93 milligrams.

Some Dairy Products

How many times did Mom tell you to finish your milk because it was good for you? She’s right: Dairy helps you get the calcium and vitamin D you need. Just look for fat-free and low-fat versions, which deliver the nutrients without the same amount of cholesterol. You can also switch yogurt for sour cream in recipes to further cut the saturated fat and cholesterol.

© 2014 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

6 Best Foods You’re Not Eating

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From watermelon to red cabbage, find out why these foods should be part of your diet. Some foods are so healthy they star on every nutrition expert’s list of super foods. But often missing on those lists are some underrated … Continue reading

Eat Healthy, Stay Fit, and Live Well Over 50

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Eat Healthy Fats You already know that saturated fats are bad for your arteries and heart health. But they can also harm your concentration and memory. So cut down on the red meat, butter, and other foods high in saturated … Continue reading

DASH Diet for Heart Health

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What DASH Can Do for You The DASH Diet can help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which is good for your heart. In fact, DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or high blood pressure. Even if … Continue reading

The 7 Missing Nutrients in Your Diet

lower-blood-pressurePotassium: Lower Blood Pressure

The USDA says American adults don’t get enough of seven essential nutrients. Potassium is a key one. Studies show that potassium can help keep blood pressure healthy. Potassium also supports fertility and muscle and nerve function. But while potassium is in lots of foods naturally — like milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, avocados, and bananas — many Americans still aren’t getting enough.

Magnesium: Prevent Disease

Low magnesium levels have been linked with health problems like osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, muscle cramps, and heart disease. Some people, such as the elderly, people with stomach or intestinal problems, or those who regularly drink alcohol, are at risk for having low magnesium levels. So eat your spinach — and your beans, peas, whole grains, and nuts (especially almonds). They could do a lot for your health.

Vitamin A: Up Your Beta-Carotene

There are two types of vitamin A: retinol and carotenoids, like beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid found in many orange and yellow foods — like sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash — as well as spinach and broccoli. Vitamin A is key in supporting good vision, healthy immunity, and tissue growth.

Vitamin D: Strong Heart and Mind

Vitamin D is important in the development of healthy bones, muscles, and nerve fibers as well as a strong immune system. Though our bodies can make it by exposure to sunlight, experts recommend getting vitamin D in other ways. A few foods naturally contain D, such as fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, mushrooms, liver, cheese, and egg yolks do. Milk, some brands of orange juice, and many cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

Calcium: More Than Strong Bones

You probably know that calcium is good for teeth and bones. But that’s not all. Calcium helps maintain muscle function and heart rhythm. It might even help prevent high blood pressure. Dairy is a good source, but foods like salmon, kale, and broccoli are too. One tip: Without enough vitamin D, your body can’t absorb the calcium you take in.

Vitamin C: Immunity Booster?

Can vitamin C prevent the common cold? Maybe not. But some studies suggest it can shorten the duration of symptoms. This vitamin, found in many fruits and vegetables, has other benefits, too. It boosts the growth of bone and tissue. As an antioxidant, it might also help protect cells from damage.

Fiber: Bulk Up

Fiber from grains, beans, and produce has loads of health benefits. It helps lower cholesterol and improve bowel regularity. It might lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. And it’s great for people trying to lose a few pounds. High-fiber foods are often filling and low in calories. Fiber supplements may, however, decrease the absorption of medications and supplements if they are taken at the same time.

© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.