Everyday Foods That Can Make Your Cholesterol Levels Skyrocket

The foods you eat have a direct impact on your health. Those at risk for heart disease have to be a little more careful about what ends up on their plates. If you have high cholesterol, you should avoid the following foods and condiments at all costs. Don’t worry — you can still enjoy the foods you love. There’s a healthier alternative for almost everything.

Full-fat cheese

Cheese block and cubed

Cheese is awful for your cholesterol. | Mariamarmar/iStock/Getty Images

According to Mayo Clinic, people with high cholesterol should do their best to consume no more than 200 daily milligrams of dietary cholesterol.

An ounce of full-fat soft cheese adds about 20 extra milligrams to your daily total — and you know you’re going to eat more than an ounce in one sitting. It’s probably better to stay away from it, if you can’t limit your consumption.

NextBe careful what you spread onto your bread.



Mayonnaise is full of cholesterol. | iStock/Getty Images

When choosing condiments to go with your meal, read nutrition labels carefully. There are 10 milligrams of cholesterol per tablespoon of light mayonnaise, even though that fact might surprise you.

If you’re looking for a healthier spread to spice up your sandwiches, go with mashed avocado, hummus, olive oil, or almond butter instead.

NextThis ocean snack contains more cholesterol than you might think.


Delicious sauteed shrimp

Shrimp can have some ugly side effects on your cholesterol. | Fudio/iStock/Getty Images

Red and processed meats notoriously put people with high cholesterol at higher risk for heart disease. Land animals, however, aren’t the only types you need to watch out for.

Three ounces of cooked shrimp almost puts you above your daily limit at 170 milligrams. You might have to cut back on other shellfish as well to avoid raising your LDL levels.

NextMind what goes on your grill.


Sliced steak

Don’t overdo it on the red meat. | iStock.com

A little bit of red meat every once in awhile isn’t all bad. You don’t have to give it up completely if you have high cholesterol. However, eating it every day might be a bad idea.

Three ounces of cooked lean beef steak provides 60 milligrams. If you tend to eat more than that in one sitting, or you grill steak more than a few times per month, you might want to consider cutting back.

NextThis high-sugar food could endanger your heart.

Spaghetti sauce

Spaghetti and home made tomato sauce on green plate.

Jarred spaghetti sauce can be full of sugar. | iStock.com/EzumeImages

Sometimes, even foods without cholesterol can endanger your health. Some research suggests that diets high in added sugars lead to lower HDL levels, which increases your risk of high LDL cholesterol — the type that can cause heart disease.

Cookies and pie have plenty of added sugars, but so do unexpected foods, like jarred spaghetti sauce. Try to limit your added sugar intake to keep your heart healthy.

NextIf you’ve never eaten this before, there’s really no need to start.


Raw liver and animal fat net on a marble table

Liver is full of salt. | iStock.com/vkuslandia

A single slice of braised beef liver could add up to about 270 milligrams of cholesterol, which exceeds the daily recommended maximum if you’ve been advised to reduce your intake.

In general, you should limit your liver intake even if you’re relatively healthy. It’s good for you in small amounts, but like anything, too much could really hurt you.

NextDon’t order this at the drive-through.


cheeseburger with fries and beer shot

All cheeseburgers really contain is cholesterol. | iStock.com/ rez-art

One of the most cholesterol-heavy sandwiches you can find, a standard cheeseburger provides about 40 milligrams of cholesterol and not much else.

There are two major contributors here: the beef and the cheese. Both contain large amounts of dietary cholesterol you should try to keep off your plate.

NextDon’t put this on your toast tomorrow morning.


Portion of Butter

This one should be obvious. | iStock.com/HandmadePictures

An extra tablespoon of butter on your toast at breakfast or bread at dinner could add 15 milligrams of cholesterol to your daily total, which is easily avoidable.

Olive oil and certain spices and herbs can provide flavor and texture butter simply can’t. Spreading butter on bread is probably more of a habit than a necessity — you might not even miss it.

NextThere are ways to eat this food without destroying your body.

Fried chicken

Basket of fried chicken

Fried chicken is hard to stay away from. | iStock.com

It’s the meal you look forward to every single week. Unfortunately, it’s something your body is silently begging you to avoid.

Three ounces of fried chicken — skin included — yield about 74 milligrams of cholesterol. Though it’s not the taste or texture you’re used to, grilled, baked, or roasted chicken contains less cholesterol, and is better for you overall.

NextIt’s the one breakfast staple you can’t resist — but you might have to.


Crispy strips of bacon

We all know that bacon is full of fat. | iStock.com/5second

Pan-fried bacon will give you about 15 milligrams of cholesterol per full slice. The more slices you pile onto your breakfast plate, the more you’re going to raise your LDL.

Unfortunately, turkey bacon isn’t a much better option at 12 milligrams per slice. Maybe a simple meatless breakfast could still work.

NextThese fats are dangerous, but can be avoided.

Trans fats

Bacon burger

Trans fats are more than likely in your fast food burger. | iStock.com/Arijuhani

Artificial trans fats, still sometimes found in fast foods and many processed foods like crackers or condiments, are on their way out of our food. They’re directly responsible for many of the risk factors associated with heart disease, including destroying your cholesterol.

There are still a lot of foods out there that continue to hide trans fats, though. Check food labels to make sure what you’re eating is trans fat-free.

NextIf pasta comes in a box, that’s probably not a good sign.

Macaroni and cheese

mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping

Macaroni and cheese is a favorite of many. | iStock.com

A single cup of boxed macaroni and cheese has 15 milligrams of cholesterol per cup. Though it’s simple to prepare and delicious to eat, a box full of dehydrated white-flour pasta — and all that cheese — isn’t good for your heart.

Even if you do use macaroni noodles as your meal’s base, try seasoning them with herbs and garlic instead of covering them with cheese.

NextYou use them for breakfast and in baking — but they might harm your health.

Egg yolks

Egg yolks

Egg yolks are indeed full of cholesterol. | Svehlik/iStock/Getty Images

Egg yolks aren’t as bad for your health as past dietary guidelines have suggested. However, your doctor will usually suggest limiting them if your LDL levels are high.

A large, fresh egg yolk contains about 184 milligrams of cholesterol — close to the maximum amount of cholesterol you should consume per day.

NextLeave this type of dessert in the freezer.

Ice cream

tubs of ice cream

Ice cream is full of cholesterol, fat, and sugar. | David Paul Morris/Getty Images.

A standard cup of vanilla ice cream provides 50 milligrams of cholesterol, along with plenty of sugar and saturated fat. In addition to cholesterol, you should also avoid these two nutrients to promote heart health.

If you’re craving something cold, soft, and sweet, give plain frozen yogurt a try. It’s close in taste and texture with less cholesterol per cup.

NextDon’t put this on your bagel if you already have high cholesterol.

Cream cheese

Bagels with Cream Cheese

It’s very easy to overdo it on the cream cheese. | iStock.com/caelmi

There are 30 milligrams of cholesterol per ounce of Philadelphia cream cheese. If you spread more than that onto your bagel in the morning, you’re taking in more excess dietary cholesterol than you should be.

Both hummus and Greek yogurt are excellent alternatives. Nonfat Greek yogurt usually has around 10 milligrams, and hummus, made from plants, has none.

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