Health

High cholesterol: Meats to avoid if you want to lower cholesterol levels

Diet plays a key role in how much bad cholesterol there is in your body. Could eating certain types of meats increase this health hazard? Find out here.

Much-loved processed meats are doing your health no favours – think bacon, sausages and hot dogs.

The International Journal of Preventative Medicine contains a research paper demonstrating how dangerous processed meats are.

A large review, consisting of over 614,000 participants, linked red meat to cardiovascular disease.

Each additional 50-gram serving of processed meat was associated with a 42 percent higher risk of developing heart disease.

However, some meats can be really nutritious. Organ meats, such as kidney, liver or heart are referred to as “offal”.

This type of meat most commonly from cows, pigs, lambs, goats, chickens and ducks.

Known as nature’s multivitamin, beef liver contains protein, vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc and iron.

Even though organ meats are rich in cholesterol, the Nutrition Department in France explained how this shouldn’t be a worry.

When you eat cholesterol-rich foods, your own liver – that produces cholesterol – responds by producing less.

The researchers noted how cholesterol is “an important component of cell membranes and a precursor of bile acids, steroid hormones and vitamin D”.

So, does this mean there is such a thing as good and bad cholesterol? The answer is yes.

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Bad cholesterol is known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, whereas good cholesterol is known as HDL (high-density lipoprotein).

Bad cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is the stuff that can build up on the walls of your arteries, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease.

Good cholesterol

HDL cholesterol helps to protect against heart disease by taking the bad cholesterol out of the blood.

The Research Centre on Ageing at Tufts University, Boston USA, examined the effects of dietary cholesterol on cardiovascular disease risk.

They analysed 40 studies where “dietary cholesterol wasn’t statistically associated with any coronary artery disease”.

But is organ meat any better for your cholesterol levels than processed meat?

Researchers from the University of Nottingham published a research paper explaining why processed meats contributed to high cholesterol.

“These meats are typically high in saturated fatty acids which cause an increase in LDL cholesterol,” they stated.

The lead author, Professor Andrew Salter, added: “With a high saturated fatty acid, red and processed meat has been linked to heart disease.”

The cholesterol charity Heart UK explained that “most people don’t need to cut down on the cholesterol that’s found in food”.

“It’s much more important to cut down on foods which contain saturated fats,” it elaborated.

However, if you’re already suffering from high cholesterol levels, Heart UK warned against offal.

Offal meat is high in cholesterol, and low in saturated fat, but people with high cholesterol “should avoid offal altogether”.

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