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Popular Foods Proven to Cause High Cholesterol, According to Science

We asked the experts what foods you should watch out for.

Maybe you already know this, but if you don't, we're about to blow your mind: There are actually two types of cholesterol. There's high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is also known as your "good" cholesterol, and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the villain "bad" cholesterol. The HDL cholesterol is there to flush out the LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream and keeps your body strong to ward off disease. So when we talk about foods proven to cause high cholesterol, we're specifically looking at the LDL "bad" cholesterol.

In order to determine which foods you need to be wary of, we did some research and spoke with a few registered dietitians. They were able to pinpoint the popular foods you may be used to that can cause high cholesterol in your body. And no…it does not include eggs.

Here's what they had to say, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Processed snacks

woman eating potato chips

"While many people think that foods high in cholesterol raise cholesterol, that is actually false," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, and author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook. "Consumption of saturated fat is typically one of the main dietary causes of high cholesterol. Saturated can be found in fast food, many processed snacks, desserts, and baked goods."

Here are 20 Benefits of Ditching Processed Foods.

Animal and plant fat

chicken wings

"Animal fat like the skin on chicken and marbling in meat, coconut, palm and palm kernel oils, and full-fat dairy foods," says Goodson. "Current research, however, suggests that the saturated fat in dairy foods may not have the same effect on blood cholesterol as some of the other saturated fat foods listed. It's not to say you can't ever eat saturated fat, but the goal is to keep your saturated fat intake to 10% or less of total calories."

Here are 5 Warning Signs You're Eating Too Much Fat.

Fast food


"Foods high in saturated fats elevate our cholesterol levels and may contribute to heart disease. These include red meat, deep-fried foods, and full-fat dairy including cheese and whole milk," says Lisa R Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "[The] biggest culprits would include fast food like cheeseburgers, French fries, and fried chicken. Saturated fats elevate blood levels of unhealthy cholesterol—LDL's (low-density lipoproteins) that can clog the arteries."

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Processed meats


Shannon Henry, RD for EZCare Clinic points out that processed meats—such as sausages, bacon, and hot dogs—will all create higher cholesterol. Limiting these foods would be the best bet in keeping your LDL cholesterol low, and to help avoid other diseases it's linked to like heart disease and cancer.


assorted cake

Sugar is proven to lower your good "HDL" cholesterol and increases your bad "LDL" cholesterol because it raises triglycerides, also known as your blood fat, according to Cleveland Health. This means that overly sugary desserts like cake, ice cream, candy, and even sugary beverages like milkshakes should be limited if you deal with high cholesterol. However, if your goal is to keep your cholesterol low, then you can pick up these 5 Healthy Dessert Habits for a Flat Belly that will help with your healthy efforts overall.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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