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Common Foods That Raise Your Levels of Bad Cholesterol

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 16, 2023

    Common Foods That Raise Your Levels of Bad Cholesterol

    There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. Reports are consistent that excessive LDL levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. For this reason, it’s crucial to reduce our intake of bad cholesterol foods.

    The three types of fats

    Before we enumerate the bad cholesterol foods you should consider avoiding, let’s first talk about the three types of fats. Understanding these three types of fats will better help you make dietary choices.

  • Unsaturated Fats: These are beneficial fats, which mainly come from plant-based foods. Reports say unsaturated fats can improve blood cholesterol levels, inflammation, and heart rhythm. You can further subdivide unsaturated fats into two: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Saturated Fats: These fats mainly come from animal-based foods, although some plant-based products, like coconut oil and coconut, also have high amounts of saturated fats. Studies show that replacing saturated fats with good fats can improve the ratio of LDL and HDL.
  • Trans Fats: These are the worst type of fats for the heart, blood vessels, and other body parts because they increase the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL. Moreover, it also reduces your level of HDL.
  • bad cholesterol foods

    5 Bad Cholesterol Foods

    Please remember that cutting back on saturated fats wouldn’t be as beneficial if you replace them with refined carbs, such as white bread, white pasta, pastries, and sweets. The best course of action is to replace them with unsaturated fats.

    On the other hand, your intake of trans fats should be as low as possible because they directly increase your bad cholesterol levels.

    Below are some of the most common bad cholesterol foods you might be incorporating too much in your diet.

    Baked Goods

    Most baked goods, like pastries, cookies, pies, and cakes, are filled with saturated and trans fat.

    So, instead of having store-bought pastries, consider baking your own cookies and pies using healthy ingredients like whole wheat flour, dark chocolate, and nut butters.

    On-the-Go Fried Foods

    Fried chicken and noodles from fast foods are not a good option if you’re looking for a healthy diet. This is because they might just be filled with trans fats, from high-temperature frying or the use of certain vegetable oils.

    To reduce your intake of these foods, consider meal prepping and cooking your foods using alternative ways like broiling and steaming.

    Processed and Fatty Cuts of Meat

    Processed and fatty cuts of meat are not on our list of foods high in trans fat. But, we still consider them as bad cholesterol foods because they are rich in saturated fats and they commonly dominate our diet.

    To help keep our cholesterol levels in check, remember to reduce your intake of processed meat such as sausages, bacon, and cold cuts. And, of course, replace them with fresh poultry and seafood meat.

    Some Microwave Popcorn

    Popcorn is often considered a movie-time staple, but many varieties are rich in trans fats. What’s even more concerning is they sometimes come in huge boxes, which many can finish in one sitting.

    If you find yourself craving popcorn, always check the label and stay away from those with trans fat or hydrogenated oil, partial or otherwise.

    Also, remember that you can make your own popcorn from plain corn kernels. Another alternative is for you to prepare veggie sticks with healthy dips, like Greek yogurt.

    Some Non-Dairy Creamers

    Our list of bad cholesterol foods includes non-dairy creamers or coffee whiteners. Though some brands are trans-fat-free, some still contain LDL-raising fats.

    Instead of non-dairy coffee creamers, consider using whole milk.

    Final Reminders:

    To avoid bad cholesterol foods, always read the food labels and avoid trans fats whenever possible. Additionally, don’t forget to add variety to your diet, with fruits and vegetables, lean, fresh meat, dairy, and healthy fats.

    Do you have concerns about your cholesterol levels? Don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.

    Learn more about Cholesterol here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jezreel Esguerra, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Feb 16, 2023

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