What happens to your cholesterol when you eat red meat?

What happens to your cholesterol when you eat red meat?

With nearly 40% of Americans having high cholesterol, this is not surprising because people are constantly trying to find ways to maintain healthy levels. From avoiding smoking to including exercise in your daily routine, there are some standard practices that people follow to lower their cholesterol levels. But when it comes to our diet, some tips are a little less clear if we want to see those levels start to fall. Sure, we know that consuming baking soda and eating fried chicken with skin are almost prohibitive when trying to support healthy cholesterol levels. But when it comes to eating red meat, the recommendations get a little darker.

Because of this, many people may wonder — what happens to your cholesterol when you eat red meat?

Eat this, not that

Eat this, not that

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What causes high cholesterol?

Understanding the effect of meat on cholesterol requires understanding what causes high cholesterol initially. High cholesterol is a common problem faced by many Americans and having it can put a person at increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and even premature death in some populations.

Many factors can play a role in a person’s risk of developing high cholesterol, with some being completely out of a person’s control. According to experts, lack of physical activity, smoking and obesity can play a role in a person’s risk of developing elevated cholesterol levels. And in terms of heredity, having a family member with high cholesterol can put you at risk of experiencing the same condition, even if your lifestyle practices are perfect.

Nutrition plays a big role

Your dietary choices can also have a profound effect on your cholesterol levels. Adherence to certain dietary patterns has been shown to keep healthy cholesterol levels under control, while others have been linked to the result that people have high cholesterol levels that can skyrocket. Diets rich in healthy fats, oats, whole grains, products, seeds and nuts tend to be your best bet when trying to keep your cholesterol healthy. At the same time, avoiding sugary foods and foods rich in saturated fats can help keep cholesterol levels in an ideal range.

Saturated fats are particularly responsible

Because consuming more saturated fat can be associated with higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, people who focus on maintaining healthy cholesterol levels are sometimes advised to avoid sources of saturated fat, including red meat, as these are natural fats. .

However, eating red meat may not be as bad for your total cholesterol as people think, especially when this food is consumed as part of an overall healthy eating pattern.

Does eating red meat cause high cholesterol?

grilling steaks on a flaming grill

grilling steaks on a flaming grill

It is true that some pieces of red meat are high in saturated fat, a nutrient that, when consumed in excessive amounts, can be associated with elevated cholesterol levels. Because of this, it is common to hear that you need to reduce (or even avoid) the intake of red meat when managing your cholesterol.

But is eating red meat a surefire way to boost your cholesterol levels?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question depends on a number of factors.

Sure, there are pieces of red meat that are high in saturated fat – think short ribs and t-bone steaks – and can contribute to high cholesterol when eaten frequently and in combination with other foods that contribute to high cholesterol.

In addition, people who eat more red meat tend to follow unhealthy eating habits, including consuming more sugary drinks and consuming more alcohol. Therefore, observational studies may suggest that consuming more red meat is associated with elevated cholesterol levels, while the overall lifestyle and dietary choices that red meat eaters choose contribute to this health risk.

So, yes, consuming large portions of high-fat red meat while making other unhealthy dietary choices can lead to higher cholesterol levels.

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But at the same time, eating sensible portions of leaner red meat along with nutritious and heart-healthy foods does not seem to contribute to the same concern.

Including red meat in combination with a healthy diet may not necessarily raise cholesterol levels.

If you eat 3-4 ounce servings of lean beef along with lots of vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, you may be surprised to find that your cholesterol levels may well be within normal limits.

According to data published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, following a Mediterranean diet containing small portions of lean beef helped lower LDL cholesterol. And another study showed that when included in a low-saturated, heart-healthy diet, consuming certain amounts of lean beef did not result in elevated cholesterol levels.

Take it away

If you’re a fan of red meat, here are some tips you can follow to keep your cholesterol levels under control:

  • Choose lean pieces such as steak, strip steak or top round

  • Insist on a serving of 3-4 ounces

  • Combine your meat with lots of vegetables, healthy fats and whole grains instead of refined bread, french fries and desserts with sugar

Follow these tips and you will be able to enjoy red meat in a cholesterol-friendly way without compromising on your favorite flavors.

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