When doctors talk about high cholesterol they are specifically talking about the LDL reading. LDL cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that causes buildups in arteries. These buildups can lead to events like heart attack and stroke. While the thinking used to be that eating cholesterol-rich foods is what raised cholesterol, it’s the kind of fats we eat that matter. Too many saturated fats and not enough unsaturated fats are what exasperates cholesterol issues. Below are other bad habits that can raise cholesterol.

Eating fatty cuts of meat: Meat in and of itself is not that bad for cholesterol, but the amount of fat in the cut is. Eating too many of these fatty cuts, such as T-bone or ribeye steaks, can contribute to cholesterol levels. Cut back to less fatty meats and occasionally splurge on a fattier piece.

Eating too many sweets: This is especially true if they are pre-packaged. Many of them contain trans fats, which increase LDL cholesterol while lowering HDL. HDL is the “good” cholesterol. While some of the packaging may contain the trans fats label, there is a loophole to the labeling rules. If the food contains less than 0.5 grams per serving, companies can label it as 0 on the package. For these hidden fats, look for “partially hydrogenated oils” on the ingredient list. This will tell you if trans fats are in the food.

Smoking: The chemicals in cigarettes lower HDL cholesterol, thus allowing LDL cholesterol to go up.

High cholesterol can lead to health issues, which is why it’s important to manage it. Proper diet and exercise help.

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