If you have high cholesterol, you're not alone. Seventy-one million people in the United States have high cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and only one-third of those with high cholesterol have it under control. If you're struggling with how to gain control over your cholesterol, knowing what not to eat is a good place to start.
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When you want to lower your blood cholesterol, you need to limit your intake of total fat and saturated fat, as total fat and saturated fat are known to raise blood-cholesterol levels. For heart health, limit your intake of total fat to 20 to 35 percent of calories and your intake of saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your calories. As a source of both fat and saturated fat, avoid high-fat meats when trying to lower your blood-cholesterol levels. High-fat meats to avoid include ribs, sausage, bacon, salami, bologna, hot dogs and organ meats such as liver.
Whole-Fat Dairy Foods
The number one source of saturated fat in the U.S. diet is regular cheese, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Like meat, whole-fat cheese and milk products are high in total and saturated fat. To help improve your cholesterol numbers, you should not eat full-fat cheese or yogurt, or drink whole milk. Other high-fat dairy foods you should avoid include ice cream, cream cheese, heavy cream, half and half, sour cream and butter.
Although cholesterol in food does not have as much of an effect on your blood cholesterol as saturated fat, you still need to limit your intake of cholesterol. If you already have high cholesterol, limit your intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 200 milligrams a day, according to the University of Illinois Extension. One large egg yolk has 184 milligrams of cholesterol, which meets almost 100 percent of your limit. If you like eggs, discard the yolks and just eat the whites, which are cholesterol free.
Fried Food and Baked Goods
Saturated fat isn't the only fat you need to avoid when you have high cholesterol; you also need to avoid trans fats. These types of fats are created when manufacturers turn liquid oils into solids. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol -- the bad cholesterol -- and lower HDL cholesterol -- the good cholesterol. Trans fats are found in fried foods and baked goods. This means you should not eat commercially made french fries, doughnuts, pastries, pie crust, biscuits, pizza crust and cookies when you have high cholesterol. Anything made with stick margarine or shortening is also a source of trans fat and should be avoided.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Cholesterol: Facts
- University of Illinois Extension: Dietary Factors That Increase Blood Cholesterol
- American Heart Association: Trans Fat
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture: The Exchange List System for Diabetic Meal Planning
- Harvard School of Public Health: Saturated Fat
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Egg, Yolk, Raw, Fresh
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Egg, White, Raw, Fresh