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This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Surprising foods that may raise your cholesterol

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Most of us know that having high cholesterol in our blood can be bad for our hearts. Eating a diet that’s high in saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels. So, it makes sense to limit your saturated fats if you want to keep your heart healthy.

"Eating a diet which is low in saturated and trans fatty acids but high in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, as well as taking plenty of exercise, can have favourable effects on cholesterol levels," according to registered nutritionist and member of the Nutrition Society, Charlotte Stirling-Reed.

Two out of three adults in the UK have cholesterol levels which are too high.

High blood cholesterol doesn't happen overnight; it develops over time. And it's a risk factor for developing heart disease.

The obvious culprits

Most of us eat too much saturated fat - about 20% more than the recommended maximum amount. Men should have less than 30g of saturated fat a day and for women it’s 20g.

If you think about saturated fats, the usual suspects like butter, lard, cream, fast foods, pies, pastries and fatty meats all spring to mind, but there are some surprising foods that may raise your cholesterol.

Eggs are not the enemy

If you think eggs belong on the avoid list, think again.

"At the moment there’s no recommended limit for eggs - they are a good choice for a heart healthy diet," according to spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association Helen Bond.

In the past, people had been advised to limit the number of eggs they should eat. This was because it was thought the cholesterol in our bodies was directly caused by cholesterol in our food.

Studies now show that saturated fat is much worse than dietary cholesterol at raising blood cholesterol levels.

Here are some sneaky choices that may raise your cholesterol:

The wrong nuts

Nuts are often thought of as a healthy alternative but there’s a big difference in the saturated fat levels in different types of nuts. Brazil nuts are the most fattening and contain the most saturated fat. In a handful, of 25 g, you get 4.1g of saturated fat. If you picked almonds, the same amount would give you 1.1 g of saturated fat. Only almonds, hazelnuts and pine nuts are not classified as high in saturated fats.

The not-so-heart-healthy breakfast

You may be feeling pretty pleased with yourself having a yoghurt for breakfast. However, if the option you choose is a 150g full-fat Greek yoghurt pot, that’s packing a punch of 7.2g of saturated fat. For a woman that’s more than a third of your daily allowance.

A drink of milk

Dairy foods are undeniably good for you. They are rich in nutrients, full of calcium, vitamins and minerals. If you pick the full fat versions though they can be a bad choice. A small glass of whole milk of 100ml contains 2.5g of saturated fat, switch to semi-skimmed it’s down to 1.1 g and skimmed is only 0.1g.

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