PASTA: When you are shopping and you see an item that says it’s low in cholesterol, you still need to check the nutrition label. If it’s high in saturated fat, it can raise your Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) known as “bad cholesterol”. Also, check the serving size. It might be smaller than you think, and if you eat too much, you’ll get more cholesterol than you realized.
COFFEE: Your morning cup of coffee just might give your cholesterol level an unwanted jolt. French press or Turkish coffee lets through cafestol, which raises levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. Espresso does, too, but serving sizes are small, so there’s less to worry about. If you drink drip coffee, you’re in the clear. The filter catches the cafestol, so stick to drip.
SHRIMP: You have probably heard that seafood is a good choice when you’re watching cholesterol. That’s true, but shrimp is an exception. One serving, even if you cook it without fat, has about 190 milligrams of cholesterol. Health experts recommend limiting cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day, or 200 milligrams per day if you have heart disease or high cholesterol. Try the scallops instead. They have less than a quarter of the cholesterol levels of shrimp.
SOME DAIRY PRODUCTS: How many times did mum tell you to finish your milk because it was good for you? She’s right: Dairy helps you get the calcium and vitamin D you need. Just look for fat-free and low-fat versions, which deliver the nutrients without the same amount of cholesterol. You can also switch yogurt for sour cream in recipes to further cut the saturated fat and cholesterol.
THAI TAKEAWAY: Thai food is spicy and delicious, but it can raise your cholesterol if you don’t choose carefully. It makes curries smooth, and it’s high in saturated fat. Scan the menu instead for stir fries or noodle dishes, and ask to have your dinner steamed or made with vegetable oil. Choose chicken rather than beef, throw in some extra veggies, and enjoy your takeaway guilt-free
ORGAN MEATS: “Nose to tail” eating may be trendy in the restaurant world, but it could leave your cholesterol trending up. Organ meats such as liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads are higher in cholesterol than other cuts of meat. Beef liver is high in iron, though.
STICK MARGARINE: Butter vs. margarine can be a tricky choice. Both have saturated fats and should be used sparingly. Margarine is made from vegetable oils, so it contains unsaturated “good” fats — polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. These types of fats help reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL). If you’re using margarine, choose soft tub margarine rather than the stick variety. Tub varieties are lower in fats. Read the nutrition label and look for one low in saturated fats and with no trans fat. Butter, on the other hand, is made from animal fat so it contains more saturated fat.
PASTA: The Mediterranean diet is supposed to be good for lowering cholesterol, right? And it is, as long as you make the right choices. Think marinara or marsala, not meatballs, and linguine with clams, not lasagna. As long as you steer clear of sauces with butter or cream bases and avoid pastas stuffed with meat or cheeses, pasta can be a healthy part of your diet. Just don’t eat too much.
DUCK: If chicken and turkey are good low-cholesterol choices, duck should be too, right? Not so. Duck and goose are both higher in cholesterol than chicken and turkey. One cup of cooked duck or goose, even with the skin removed, has about 128 milligrams of cholesterol. The same portion of chicken has only 113 milligrams of cholesterol, and turkey is an even better choice at 93 milligram.