Doctor And NY Times Best-Selling Author Tells Us The Worst Foods For Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol doesn't have to be a scary word. Rather, blood cholesterol is paramount to our body's digestive functioning and hormone production, explains the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What can be worrisome, however, is when a person develops high levels of cholesterol. Around the world, high cholesterol is responsible for one-third of all cases of ischemic heart disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Our total cholesterol levels are made up of LDL ("bad") and HDL ("good") cholesterol. A total cholesterol level that exceeds 200 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) is considered high and can put our cardiovascular health at risk.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman is a board-certified family physician, nutritional researcher, and 7-time New York Times best-selling author. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, he shared the kinds of foods that contribute to elevated LDL cholesterol levels. "Fatty animal products (with saturated fat and cholesterol) raise cholesterol the most, but so do your own body fat stores," he stated. "So, eating meat, eggs, and cheese, fried foods, and fast foods all raise cholesterol, add body fat, and hasten heart disease-related deaths."

Support is key in maintaining healthy eating habits in the long run

Avoiding fatty foods isn't easy when you consider the fact that in 2023, there were a reported 200,859 fast food restaurants operating in the U.S., according to IBIS World. However, Dr. Joel Fuhrman tells us that the problem isn't as simple as labeling certain foods as "good" or "bad" and then choosing accordingly. "Many people are addicted to unhealthful foods," he states. "Learning about which foods to eat or which foods not to eat is often not sufficient for them to achieve and maintain healthy eating habits." Instead, Dr. Fuhrman explains that many people could benefit from having long-term systems in place to support healthy eating habits through education and community support.

Dr. Fuhrman emphasizes that having the willingness to learn more is the first step, and recommends his book "Eat for Life" as a starting point. "I also own a health retreat in San Diego, the Eat to Live Retreat, where such individuals can come for a month or more to lose weight, resolve food addiction, reverse, and resolve high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and gain the tools to enjoy and maintain healthful eating when they leave."

Foods that help lower cholesterol levels

Just as some foods can raise our cholesterol levels, the good news is that others can help effectively lower them. "The foods with the most positive impact are green vegetables, beans and raw nuts and seeds," Dr. Fuhrman tells us exclusively. Offering some tasty recipe examples, he suggests enjoying a nutritious vegetable bean soup or a large salad topped with a nut or seed-based dressing.

By filling our plate with cholesterol-reducing foods, we can better protect our heart health, Dr. Fuhrman explains. "In fact, getting your fat from nuts and seeds and not from animal fats and oils ... has been shown in multiple scientific studies to reduce heart attacks by about 40%," he says. "A Nutritarian Diet, one rich in high nutrient, anti-cancer foods, G-BOMBS (Greens – Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds) has been documented in scientific studies to lower blood pressure by an average of 26 points systolic and drop cholesterol by about 30%," he concludes, adding that such diets have also been shown to reverse heart disease.

To find out more about Dr. Fuhrman, you can visit