High Cholesterol Foods to Avoid – Sugar and Starches!
When most people think about high cholesterol foods, they think about deep fried goodies and foods laden with bad fats. And, there is a lot of truth to these high cholesterol foods to avoid being linked to higher than desirable levels of LDL. However, it is quite possible that staying away from the well known high cholesterol foods is only part of the equation and, that many previously taboo foods for those with elevated LDLs may be less of a problem than other common culprits like sugars and starches.
Take for instance the shrimp cholesterol connection. The World’s Healthiest Foods points out that shrimp is in fact high in cholesterol and thus it is a logical answer to the question of what causes high cholesterol in terms of dietary intake. However, on the flip side of this easy equation are some facts that make shrimp’s role in elevating LDL cholesterol much less well defined. For instance, the little sea farers actually contain sterols which are known to lower cholesterol. These compounds like the beta-sisterol, found in shrimp, are known to be found in many good cholesterol foods because they can reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol found in the bloodstream, thus the shrimp cholesterol connection may perhaps be less clear cut. Additionally, shrimp’s place among high cholesterol foods to avoid may be equally challenged due to their containment of heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, which are also thought to be beneficial in terms of cholesterol reduction.
While the debate among which foods to eat and not to eat when plagued with high cholesterol wages in the scientific community, one thing is becoming more apparent. An increased intake of refined sugars and simple carbohydrates may negatively impact cholesterol numbers. WebMD explains that there are numerous ways in which refined sugars and carbs can be considered high cholesterol foods to avoid. The simplest way in which this connection is made has to do with healthy weights. Those who consume more sugar and more empty calories from refined carbs tend to weigh more than those who do not. Additional weight can in turn lead to lower than desirable levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Since this type of cholesterol is necessary to keep bad cholesterol in check, lower than advantageous levels of the good blood fat can contribute over time to higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
However, WebMD points to an even more direct way in which refined foods, excessive sugar and abundant carbs may impact cholesterol levels. Recent studies have compared the cholesterol levels of those who ate high sugar diets regularly to those that do not. These studies showed that HDL levels were markedly reduced in those that had high sugar diets. Additionally, triglyceride levels in these participants were also higher, which is not surprising given the well established role that sugars, carbs and other “white” foods play in increasing triglycerides.
Carbs themselves also seem to play an important role in the development of high cholesterol, and Dr. Oz explains that carbs are an often forgotten but very important category of high cholesterol foods to avoid. Oz references a study that was conducted in post menopausal women that found that carbohydrates had a greater negative impact on atherosclerosis advancement than saturated fats, long thought to be one of the most important inclusions amongst high cholesterol foods to avoid, did.
Healthcentral.com explains the way in which carbohydrates negatively impact cholesterol levels. In one way, increased carbs which lead to an increase in triglycerides in turn can lead to an increased production of very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) in the liver. These very low density lipoproteins get together with LDL cholesterol which makes the molecules of the latter smaller, and their numbers greater. These tinier sized particles of LDL can be oxidized much more easily, thus making them more susceptible to getting sucked into inflammatory white blood cells that are hanging out in arterial plaques within the arteries.
These smaller molecules of LDL are problematic for another reason according to Healthcentral.com, and that is glycation. When particles of LDL become glycated, they tend to hang about in the blood stream for longer than normal LDL molecules. They are also thought to be bigger contributors to the formation of arterial plaques.
Simple starches and sugars are an important consideration among high cholesterol foods to avoid. However, they are still only part of the equation. Making healthy food choices is one of the best and easiest answers to how to lower cholesterol naturally. But, sticking to a cholesterol diet is much less effective without increasing physical activity and avoiding high risk activities like smoking, too.
High cholesterol is considered one of the biggest risk factors to developing heart related conditions later in life. However, developing high cholesterol in itself has some risk factors too. Being overweight (which can be caused by diets high in sugar and refined carbs) eating too many foods that are high in sugar (which can decrease HDL levels), remaining sedentary and having lifestyle risk factors can all play a role in developing high cholesterol in the first place. Rather than correct later, choosing now to limit sugar and carb intake, getting exercise and working towards a healthier lifestyle can reduce the long term need for worrying about high cholesterol foods to avoid in the first place.