You’re not eating healthy fats
If your doctor says you have high cholesterol, it means the LDL reading (bad cholesterol) is building up and may cause blockages in your arteries. A healthy cholesterol reading from a blood test is less than 200 mg/dL. “While it used to be thought that eating cholesterol-rich foods would raise blood cholesterol levels, we now know that consuming too many saturated fats and not enough unsaturated, heart-healthy fats is what actually affects blood cholesterol levels the most,” says Sarah-Jane Bedwell, RD, LDN, host of Cooking with Sarah-Jane. Eating foods that contain monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats can help prevent and manage high levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels, says Bedwell. Drizzle some olive oil or sunflower oil on salads and veggies since both are good sources of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. Learn the signs you’re not getting enough of these good fats in your diet.
You choose the fattiest steak on the menu
Guilty of always ordering the T-bone or rib eye? Swap those foods high in cholesterol out for a cut of beef that’s better for your heart. To reduce the level of saturated fats you consume, look for lean cuts of meat, suggests Bedwell. She says there are 38 cuts of beef that are lean—key words to look for include “loin,” “sirloin,” or “round.” If you’re cooking steak at home, trim off as much fat as you can before cooking, and pour off the melted fat after cooking. Baking, broiling, stewing, and grilling are healthier ways to prepare meats. It’s also a good idea to avoid organ meat (like liver and kidney), which tend to be high in cholesterol. Here are some other ways to lower your cholesterol and fight heart disease.
You skip fish
Certain types of fish—like salmon, mackerel, trout, and herring—contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, “good fats” that don’t affect LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to increase “good” cholesterol, reducing your triglycerides, a type of fat in your blood, and reducing blood pressure, according to mayoclinic.org. Aim to eat a 3.5-ounce serving of fish at least twice per week, preferably those higher in omega-3 fatty acids. Ask for salmon as the protein on your salad at lunch or grill up a salmon burger when you’re barbecuing this season. (Hate fish? Try these omega-3 rich foods instead.)