Cholesterol is made by the liver in adequate amounts to supply all your body needs to protect nerves, produce specific hormones and make cell tissues. A source of additional cholesterol is the food you eat. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, and HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, are the two types of cholesterol. Even though your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol, an elevated total cholesterol level may put you at risk for heart disease.
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Trans fat has an unhealthy effect on your cholesterol levels by decreasing HDL, or good cholesterol, and increasing LDL, or bad cholesterol. The risk for developing heart disease increases with a diet high in trans fat. While a small amount of trans fat is found in beef and dairy products, about 80 percent of the trans fat in American diets is factory-produced, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The most common foods for trans fat include fast foods, potato chips, cookies, microwave popcorn, icing, donuts, canned biscuits and crackers. Reduce your intake of trans fat by avoiding highly processed foods and eating more home-prepared recipes with fruits, vegetables and lean meats.
Saturated fats are the biggest dietary cause of high LDL levels, reports MedlinePlus. Sources of saturated fats include animal products -- whole milk, butter, cream, ice cream, cheese and fatty meats -- and vegetable oils, such as palm and coconut. Recommended limits of saturated fat intake are 10 percent of your total calories.
Replacing saturated fats with monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as safflower, corn, fish, soybean oil and sunflower oil, may lower blood cholesterol levels. Read food labels carefully and avoid foods high in saturated fats.
Meat and Meat Products
Meat and meat products are food sources high in LDL cholesterol. Beef, veal, variety meats and by-products are the highest sources of cholesterol, according to DietaryFiberFood.com. Braised pork, pan-fried lamb and egg yolk are next in cholesterol content. Other products with a high cholesterol count include herring, sardine, cod liver, pan-fried chicken and salmon.
Preparing lean meats, such as skinless chicken, without added fats and eating only the whites of eggs will reduce the amount of cholesterol intake from meat sources.
Foods such as oatmeal, kidney beans, apples and prunes contain soluble fiber, which can lower your LDL. Just 5 to 10 grams of soluble fiber may lower your LDL and your total cholesterol, according to MayoClinic.com.
For a heart-healthy diet to reduce your blood pressure and your risk of developing blood clots, include at least two servings of grilled or baked fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as mackerel and salmon, each week.