10 foods to avoid with high cholesterol

High levels of cholesterol in the blood are influenced by our lifestyle and our diet: if rich in certain foods, in fact, it can lead to a worsening of the situation.

For years, the measurement of blood cholesterol levels has been used to assess a possible cardiovascular risk. The Cholesterol is a lipid molecule produced by all animal organisms . In humans, it is mainly produced by the liver and, therefore, transported in the blood or brain, or used for the production of bile.

The cholesterol in the blood is not free, as they do not water soluble, but tied to the lipoproteins , which are divided into HDL, LDL and VLDL , respectively, high density lipoprotein, low density lipoproteins and lipoprotein very low density.

The cardiovascular risk factor is represented by LDL, which have the task of transporting cholesterol from the liver to the cells of the body, passing through the arteries. If oxidized , these proteins could give rise to the atheromatous plaque responsible for arteriosclerosis, a pathology that can cause thrombosis and interruption of blood flow. The HDL lipoproteins act in an opposite manner with respect to LDL lipoproteins, bringing the molecules of cholesterol from arteries to the liver.

Cholesterol is a vital molecule for humans as the basis for the formation of some hormones and vitamin D . Furthermore, it is the precursor of bile acids and is involved in the formation and repair of all cell membranes.

It follows that only too high levels of LDL cholesterol can represent an alarm signal, to be evaluated necessarily together with your doctor, who can prescribe in-depth investigations, where he deems it appropriate.

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As we said initially, cholesterol is a molecule produced by all animals. Some foods therefore contain moderate quantities. However, the cholesterol we take in through food represents a small percentage of the cholesterol we produce independently.

In particular, our body produces about 1 gram of cholesterol a day , starting from carbohydrates. Furthermore, it is important to underline that its formation requires an enzyme whose activation depends on the presence of insulin .

A healthy and balanced diet, an adequate dose of physical activity (over 150 minutes / week) and the recovery of an optimal body weight are necessary to restore optimal cholesterol levels and should be the first therapeutic choice. Pharmacological treatment will thus be an option only in the event that the correct diet is not sufficient.

10 foods to avoid with high cholesterol

Now let’s see specifically what are 10 foods to avoid to improve your cholesterol levels.

1. Simple sugars

As we have seen, our cholesterol production depends on insulin levels. An excess of simple sugars in the diet is linked to an increase in blood sugar and, therefore, insulin and should therefore be avoided.

2. Pasta, rice, refined cereals, bread and pizza

All foods made from cereals or refined flours have a high glycemic index . The increase in blood glucose leads to an increase in the production of insulin by the pancreas, and the production of insulin activates the enzyme that leads to the production of endogenous cholesterol. We therefore recommend choosing whole grain cereals for preparing meals and remembering that the daily amount of carbohydrates must also be reached through the optimal intake of fruit and vegetables.

As for pizza , depending on the case (it should be evaluated with the attending physician) it can be included in a healthy and balanced diet once or twice a month , preferring simple toppings and without mozzarella, such as marinara or with vegetables.

3. Coffee

Caffeine has been associated with an increase in serum cortisol . The abuse of coffee is therefore not recommended, although studies are divided and there is no univocal opinion on the matter. In this regard, we recommend never consuming more than 3 coffees a day, possibly in the first part of the day.

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4. Milk and yogurt

Dairy products, especially whole ones, contain a fair amount of animal fats and, therefore, cholesterol. They also have a high insulinemic index : in practice they stimulate the production of insulin even in the absence of hyperglycemia. Lean dairy products, on the other hand, contain a greater quantity of added sugars, linked to the problems described above.

5. Animal fats such as butter, lard and cream

Among the foods to avoid with high cholesterol we find those rich in fat such as butter, lard or cream. These products contain a high amount of fat and cholesterol. They are high-calorie foods, which if consumed in excess, contribute to weight gain, an additional cardiovascular risk factor, especially when associated with hypercholesterolemia.

6. Innards such as liver and brain

These products, rich in many nutrients, also contain high amounts of cholesterol , which we have seen accumulate in these two organs. Therefore, in case of hypercholesterolemia it is advisable to avoid or reduce these foods.

7. Fatty cured meats

In the case of high cholesterol, we recommend limiting foods such as cured meats, especially fatty ones, and rather choosing products that allow you to eliminate visible fat, such as raw ham.

8. Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol should be limited in case of hypercholesterolemia, even more so if blood triglycerides are also high.

9. Cheeses

In case of high cholesterol it would be better to eliminate cheeses, especially fat ones, as they are rich in cholesterol . We recommend replacing them with leaner cheeses, which nevertheless have a high insulin index. Therefore the general consumption of cheeses must be limited.

10. Egg pasta and packaged products containing eggs

The eggs , especially the yolk, contain a high amount of cholesterol. In case of hypercholesterolemia it is advisable to limit the number of eggs eaten weekly and, therefore, to limit the consumption of baked goods containing this ingredient. In fact, baked goods are made from flours with a high glycemic index , which would worsen the situation. However, remember that the consumption of eggs should not be completely banned in case of high cholesterol. For more information, please read our in-depth analysis dedicated to the consumption of eggs and high cholesterol .

Read also: Anti-cholesterol recipes: 10 preparations to manage cholesterol in the kitchen

Fruit and cholesterol

A varied and balanced diet generally involves the consumption of 2 portions of fruit a day, even in the case of high cholesterol. Fruit, in fact, contains fiber, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, all very important elements for health and capable of promoting the reduction of cholesterol. However, remember that fruit also contains fructose , a sugar that can cause cholesterol to rise.

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Therefore, although there are no specific fruits to avoid in case of high cholesterol, it is certainly advisable to consume them in the right quantities and choose mainly (but not exclusively) fruit with a lower fructose content such as currants, lemons, plums, passion fruit, guava, melon, raspberries, kiwis, strawberries or pineapple. On the contrary, however, apples, pears or grapes contain high levels of fructose which, however, let us remember, should not be eliminated from the diet but only consumed with a certain moderation.


In conclusion, therefore, healthy eating is one of the best ways to decrease blood cholesterol levels , especially if associated with a correct lifestyle. A nutritional visit that ends with the development of a personalized meal plan can be the correct choice to improve your pathology.

L ‘ exercise at medium-high intensity should never fail and should be done regularly. In fact, some studies have revealed that exercising for less than 120 minutes a week does not lead to an increase in HDL cholesterol (a positive factor), as it does when the weekly workout is longer. Finally, it is important not to smoke as smoking lowers HDL cholesterol levels, thus making the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases higher.

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