20 Foods You Should Cut Out If You’re Watching Your Cholesterol

Written By Jill Taylor

Your diet is an important tool to lower high cholesterol or reduce the risk of your cholesterol getting too high. To do this you’ll have to watch out for foods with both trans fats and saturated fats. Here are 20 foods that anyone trying to manage their cholesterol should avoid.

Processed Meat

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CNBC suggests that a lot of processed meat can be “loaded in sodium and saturated fat.” Saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol levels, which means that your ‘bad’ cholesterol increases. Processed meats are also really high in sodium and contain harmful nitrates and nitrites, which cause many health issues.

Whole Milk

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Whole or full-fat milk is a dairy product that you should really skip if you’re trying to manage your cholesterol levels. Along with full-fat butter, cream, and cheese, whole milk has a lot of saturated fats in it. Like with processed meat, these can raise your LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels.

Fast Food

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Normally, cutting out fast food is one of the first steps towards a healthy diet. To manage your cholesterol, you should definitely consider saving fast food for a rare treat. As well as being high in calories, fast food is cooked in oils full of trans fats, which raise your cholesterol levels.

Cookies, Pastries, And Pies

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There are a number of reasons why baked goods can be bad for you, especially in terms of your cholesterol. They’re often made with lots of butter or margarine, which both have a lot of saturated fats in them. The white flour used in baking can also spike your blood sugar levels.

Fried Food

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Even if you’re frying up chicken wings at home, they can be just as bad for your cholesterol as eating at a fast food restaurant. Fried food can be a calorie overload and you may still be using oils that contain trans fats. Those trans fats are directly linked to worse cholesterol.

Red Meat

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You might think that red meat is better for you than processed meat. However, the NHS groups “red or processed meat” together and states that these “meats are high in saturated fat, which can raise blood cholesterol levels.” Beef, lamb, and pork should be avoided to maintain lower cholesterol levels.

Egg Yolks

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Although egg whites are quite healthy for you, egg yolks are where all of the cholesterol is located in an egg. This can raise your levels, and they can be difficult to avoid. Many recipes include egg yolks, like quiches and custards, so be vigilant and switch to a cholesterol-free option instead.

Creamy Sauces

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Any sauces that have cream as a base are bad news for your cholesterol. They’re usually made with high-fat creams or cheeses, which are also full of calories, so they’re an all-around bad option. Some healthier alternatives include sauces with a tomato or broth base.

Potato Chips

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As well as containing a high amount of salt, which can be awful for your blood pressure, potato chips are often made in oils that contain trans fats. If you still want a tasty snack, then there are better options. A bag of nuts or dried fruit could be delicious and healthy!

Ice Cream

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Nearly everyone across the U.S. loves ice cream, but you have to be careful with your choice of brand when you’re watching your cholesterol. According to Mayo Clinic, “full-fat ice cream and other desserts are … common sources of saturated fats.” However, fat-free ice cream can be a great alternative.


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A lesser-known issue for those managing their cholesterol is some types of shellfish, like lobster and shrimp. They can be fairly high in cholesterol, and they’re often served fried, which we’ve already established is an unhealthy cooking method. Grilling or steaming shellfish can make them better for your cholesterol.


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Butter is a staple food in many households, and you can use it for many dishes, but it can be bad for your cholesterol levels. It’s high in saturated fats, which means your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels will skyrocket. There are a lot of plant-based butter alternatives out there which are much healthier.


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There are so many different types of cheese to choose from, so make sure you make the right choice. Lower-fat cheeses like ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and Swiss cheese will be much better for your cholesterol than full-fat cheeses like Brie and Cheddar cheese.


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Generally, it’s best to use margarine in moderation. Most kinds of margarine contain trans fats, which will raise your ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. Look for margarine made with non-hydrogenated oils so that you can avoid adding those trans fats to your diet.

Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil is controversial, as many people report that coconut oil has health benefits. Medline agrees that coconut oil, when applied to skin, could possibly help with “eczema” and “growth and development in premature infants,” but it also “contains a type of fat (saturated fat) that can increase cholesterol levels” when eaten.

Palm Oil

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Another oil that contains high levels of saturated fats is palm oil. It’s best to try and avoid using palm oil wherever possible, as the process of making it is linked to deforestation and the destruction of some natural environments. Some better oils include canola and sunflower oil.


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Mayonnaise might be an excellent addition to a chicken sandwich, but it’s also high in calories and fats. You can usually find reduced-fat options that are healthier and better for your cholesterol. Another option could be yogurt-based dressings, which are still creamy but contain less fat.

Sugary Cereals

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Both adults and children could benefit from a healthier alternative to sugary breakfast cereals. Their high sugar content can raise your overall cholesterol levels and they’re just not the best way to start the day. Cereals with higher amounts of fiber and lower amounts of sugar, or oatmeal, are much healthier.


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With smoothies, you have to be careful if you’re not making them yourself. Store-bought smoothies often have a lot of sugars added, and even though they look healthy, they can be full of calories. Homemade smoothies can be healthier depending on how they’re made; if they’re low in sugar, that’ll benefit your cholesterol.


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Finally, drinking too much alcohol can have many negative effects on your health. It can raise your cholesterol, cause weight gain through deceptively high amounts of calories, and even damage your liver. If you’re mindful of how much alcohol you drink, then managing your cholesterol should be easier.

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