Although cholesterol is found in seafood and meat, new research has shown that dietary cholesterol has little effect on increasing blood cholesterol. However, saturated fats and trans fats play a major role in raising blood cholesterol. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature, such as butter, coconut oil, fat in cheese and the fat you can see in meat. Trans fats are most often found in processed foods, packaged snack foods, some margarines and deep-fried foods. Thankfully, some food manufacturers have recently started decreasing the amount of trans fats used in processed foods.
To have the biggest impact on lowering your blood cholesterol, make changes in your diet and look for foods that have “0 grams of saturated fat” and “0 grams of trans fat” on the nutrition facts panel. Although some meats are a source of saturated fat, there are plenty of lean sources such as chicken without the skin, turkey without the skin, and any cut of meat with the word “loin” in it (for example, tenderloin, short loin, sirloin, top loin, etc.).
If you’re over the age of 20, make sure to have your cholesterol numbers checked at least every five years, and more often if you have a family history.
Visit the MissouriFamilies website for more information about nutrition and health.
Contributor: Mary Wissmann, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, St. Louis County, University of Missouri Extension, WissmannM@missouri.edu