You’re not eating healthy fats
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in the blood. Your body needs it to build healthy cells, but high levels can increase your risk of heart disease. A healthy target for a total cholesterol reading from a blood test is less than 200 mg/dL. Your LDL number is optimal if it’s less than 100, your HDL (or “good”) cholesterol number should be 60 or higher, and your triglycerides should be less than 150, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It’s well known that eating too much saturated and trans fat can be a problem, but what’s less understood is the role of unsaturated fats—the healthy type. Both types of healthy fats—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated—have been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ginger Hultin, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and owner of ChampagneNutrition in Seattle, recommends these sources of healthy fats. Monounsaturated: avocado, olive and canola oils, and macadamia nuts. Polyunsaturated: walnuts, safflower and soybean oil, flax, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring. Learn the 7 signs you’re not getting enough of these good fats in your diet.
You choose the fattiest steak on the menu
If your taste buds lead you to the T-bone or rib-eye in a restaurant, you’re not alone. But it’s heart-smart to trade picks that are high in cholesterol for a cut of beef that’s better for your heart. To reduce the level of saturated fats you consume, the American Heart Association recommends choosing meat that has minimal visible fat. Lean beef cuts include the round, chuck, sirloin or loin. Lean pork cuts include the tenderloin or loin chop. Lean lamb cuts come from the leg, arm, and loin. “Choice” or “select” grades are preferable to “prime.” Go for “lean” or “extra lean” ground beef. Cooking tips from the AHA: Trim all visible fat before cooking, pour off the melted fat afterward, and broil or grill rather than panfrying. And in general, limit the amount of red meat you eat. Here are some other 30 ways to lower your cholesterol and fight heart disease.