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Do Carbs and Sugar Cause High Cholesterol?

Three types of lipids comprise your cholesterol profile: low-density lipoprotein, high-density lipoprotein and triglycerides. Sugar can elevate triglycerides, a type of fat that, like LDL cholesterol, tends to clog your arteries. Some types of carbohydrates, such as fiber, can help lower cholesterol. Sugar and refined carbohydrates may lead to weight gain, which can adversely affect your LDL and HDL – “good” and “bad” – cholesterol as well as your triglycerides.

Types of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates include three main types: sugar, starch and fiber. Sugar occurs naturally in a variety of foods, including fruit, vegetables and milk. Sugar also gets added to a lot of processed foods and beverages, including cakes, cookies and soda. Sources of starch include corn, potatoes and bread. Healthy sources of fiber include oatmeal and other whole grains, apples and other fruit with edible skins or seeds and nonstarchy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. To prevent high cholesterol, restrict sugar and increase fiber in your diet.

Sugar Guidelines

The American Heart Association recommends that women limit added sugars in their diet to approximately 100 calories or six teaspoons daily. One teaspoon of sugar contains about 16 calories and a can of soda may contain more than 130 sugar calories, usually from high-fructose corn syrup. If your diet contains too much fructose, this type of sugar carbohydrate could cause high triglycerides. Limit your consumption of sweets and drink no more than 36 ounces per week of regular soda.

Fiber Recommendations

To help lower LDL cholesterol, men should include at least 35 grams of fiber in their daily diets and women 28 grams, according to the American Dietetic Association. Fiber can also help you lose weight, and losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds can help lower cholesterol. Additionally, fiber can reduce blood pressure and blood glucose levels. These foods will help you reach your daily fiber quota: cooked split peas, 16.3 grams per cup; cooked black beans, 15 grams per cup; raspberries, 8 grams per cup; cooked whole-wheat spaghetti, 6.2 grams per cup; and boiled broccoli, 5.1 grams per cup.

Considerations

If you choose the right carbohydrates, they can help rather than harm your cholesterol. A healthy diet includes 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates, based on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet. Saturated fat, found mostly in animal products and tropical oils, can cause high cholesterol. Foods high in dietary cholesterol may also raise your cholesterol levels. Limit saturated fat to 16 to 22 grams a day and dietary cholesterol to 200 to 300 milligrams. To prevent high cholesterol, mostly avoid fatty meats, whole-milk dairy products and eggs. Also limit trans fat, found in margarine and shortening, to less than 2 grams a day. Sources of hidden trans fat include commercial baked goods, fried foods served at restaurants and candy bars.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.