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Sugar and Cholesterol: A very Surprising Link

Often, when one thinks about cholesterol, what comes to mind is fat and sinfully delicious burgers coupled with fries from the popular fast food chains. Well, that’s a known fact. What most people do not know is that it is not just fat and fatty foods that affect the cholesterol levels. It could be a number of factors, including stress, lack of exercise, and sugars!

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Did you know that excessively eating foods rich in sugar can actually have a direct effect on your blood cholesterol levels? A high-sugar diet is not just linked to diabetes but has been proven to cause low levels of good cholesterol or high density lipoprotein (HDL). What does that mean? Because cholesterol levels are inversely proportional to each other, low levels of HDL mean high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called “bad cholesterol”, and triglycerides.

Sources of Sugar

Not all sugars are bad. In fact, the body actually needs sugar to survive. Still, like every other thing on Earth, there is a limit to what the body actually needs. Simple sugars are highly discouraged because they break down too easily. That’s the reason why it is best to avoid processed foods and drinks.

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In the past, people had counted on fruits, real fruits to give the juice and food. These days, it is easy to simply pick a carton of juice off the grocery store shelf. How sure are you that those are healthy? Well, you simply have to learn to read the label. After all, food manufacturers are required to place all the ingredients they use on those tiny labels.

You might think that “evaporated cane juice” is innocent but that only translates to “sugar”! Check the label closely and look for items that end with “-ose” because those mean sugar. Yes! “Dextrose”, “fructose”, and “sucrose” are various types of sugar. Go through the items in the supermarket and you’ll surely find most of the processed food stuff containing these sugars. It can get confusing to distinguish which ones to buy. A great piece of advice would be to avoid them entirely, if possible. Stick to fresh fruits and vegetables as much as you can.

Just because they don’t appear in the labels, it doesn’t mean that fruits and vegetables don’t have sugar. On the contrary, sugar content makes these food items tasty. Still, the sugar levels are within a good range and aren’t broken down as fast as the simple sugars offered in the sugary processed foods, soft drinks, and high-energy drinks.

Knowing Your Limits

If sugar is needed by the body, how is too much? Based on extensive studies done by the American Heart Association (AHA), most men need around 150 calories a day while most women need around 100 calories a day. If that is translated to sugar, then men need 9 teaspoons while women need only 6.

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Now, check your diet. Any food with carbohydrates (including bread and rice) contains sugar. How many 12-ounce cans of regular soda do you drink daily? Each can has 8–10 teaspoons of sugar. Even 1 can of soda is more than enough to meet the daily limit. But you also eat other foods! Even without doing complex Math, you’ll see that indulging in soft drinks and sugary drinks pushes you well over what you need for the day.

It might be good to start counting your calories now – not just for avoiding obesity but also to keep your cholesterol levels in check.

High-Cholesterol Foods to Avoid

If you are striving for a healthier lifestyle, one of the best ways to start is to watch what you eat. Your efforts will surely pay off in the long run. You might not notice it at first but the changes will be pronounced after a longer period of time. Food items that have high cholesterol levels must be avoided at all cost. If that is really not possible, try to keep them at a minimum.

Yes, cholesterol does play a role in the body’s processes but like everything that comes in excess, it could harm the body. Best start with learning more about the foods that contain high levels of this compound.

Seafood

Seafood items are very delicious and often considered as healthy but did you know that many are full of cholesterol? Shellfish such as mussels, clams, and oysters are prepared in a variety of ways. Different species have different cholesterol content, with some offering as high as 105 mg (35% DV) per 100-g serving. Fried shellfish and chowders contain higher levels than those found in steamed and baked food. Thus, if you can’t resist the temptation to enjoy these tasty treats, try the latter options.

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Shrimp actually offers very high levels, with as much as 195 mg (65% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g! There are a lot of cuisine that feature shrimp across different cultures and countries. This seafood item is an easy favorite but if you are trying to stay healthy, limiting shrimp intake just might do the trick.

Exotic food items such as caviar are popular in parties and gourmet cuisine. Caviar is even used as spread in breads across Eastern and Northern Europe! Socialites and celebrity partygoers just might think twice before indulging in this popular treat if they knew that it contains 588 mg (196% DV) per 100-g serving!

Processed Foods

A wide range of processed meats are especially delicious and popular with the kids but such often contain a high level of LDLs. The actual content will depend on what part of the meat is added but these could have as high as 158 mg (50% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g.

Dairy products like cheese are often expected to have high cholesterol levels because of their association with their source: the cow. You’re not mistaken, that’s for sure. A tasty side dish and additive to a wide range of dishes, cheese could have up to 123 mg (41% DV) per 100 g.

Manufacturers often market oil-packed fish as good for the heart, with these products touted to offer high levels of Omega-3. Well, that may be true but you should also know that such foods also have high cholesterol levels – reaching as much as 142 mg (47% DV) of cholesterol per 100 g.

Other Food Items

It is common knowledge that fast-food items are bad for your health, offering high levels of fat and cholesterol. Various combinations of these food items are often the culprits for obesity across the world, especially because these are especially delicious and popular with diners. Remember, these mouthwatering foods can have as much as 261 mg (87% DV) per 100-g serving.

Butter is quite commonly used in baking and cooking dishes, adding a distinctively delicious taste to the finished product. Thankfully, only a small amount is often required per recipe. Still, the content of 215 mg (72% DV) per 100-g serving is quite high.

The liver has long been established as the primary source and manufacturer of cholesterol. It is, therefore, not surprising that foods that contain liver also have high levels of cholesterol. That’s a whooping 564 mg (188%) of cholesterol per 100-g serving!

We’re saving the best for last: the egg yolk! This seemingly innocent and simple food item tops all known lists with as much as 1234 mg (411% DV) per 100 g.

Don’t be deceived by the appearance of any food, let alone its taste. Very high cholesterol levels can hide in the simplest foods or may be absent in complex-looking items. Just like everything else in life, it is still best to research and learn about these foods especially when your health is at stake.