Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

Cholesterol is a substance found in our body and in animal products such as meat, eggs and dairy products. It plays important role in the production of hormones, vitamin D and the bile which is necessary for digesting fats. Cholesterol is an essential component of every cell in our body as a part of cell membranes, giving them strength and flexibility. The liver produces cholesterol that our body needs to function, but cholesterol can also be introduced through the consumption of food, and this takes about 25% of the cholesterol in our body. Through the body, cholesterol is transported by particles called lipoproteins, including low-density (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL is often referred to as “bad cholesterol,” as it’s associated with atherosclerosis, while HDL (“good cholesterol”) helps collect bad cholesterol from the arteries and bring it back to the liver for disposal.

When you consume a lot of cholesterol-rich foods, your body compensates by reducing the amount of cholesterol that the liver produces. In contrast, when cholesterol intake is low, the liver increases the production to ensure there is always enough cholesterol for functioning. There are a lot of cholesterol-rich foods that are important to consummate, but there are also foods to avoid for high cholesterol.

Types of fat

Fat intake affects the production of cholesterol in the liver because fatty acids bind to liver cells and through them regulate this process. The most effective dietary approach for lowering blood cholesterol is choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats over those that contain saturated or trans fats. Each form of fat influences cholesterol levels differently:

•  Saturated fats: You can find them mostly in meat and dairy products, and they instruct the liver to produce more bad cholesterol (LDL).

•  Unsaturated fats: These are more common in fish, plants, nuts, seeds, beans, and vegetable oils. Some of them may help increase the rate of reabsorbing and breaking down bad cholesterol (LDL).

•  Trans fats: These are found in hardened vegetable oils, manufactured through an artificial process called hydrogenation. Usually, fried food, baked goods and packaged foods contain them.

Foods to Avoid

Foods to avoid for high cholesterol

While certain cholesterol-rich foods are highly nutritious and beneficial to your health, others can be harmful. Here are some foods to avoid for high cholesterol:

•    Fried Foods: Such as deep-fried meats and cheese sticks or any of commercially fried foods should be avoided whenever possible. They’re loaded with calories and usually contain a lot of trans fats, which increase heart disease risk. Trans fats not only increase levels of bad cholesterol, but they can also lower levels of good cholesterol. Also, consumption of fried foods has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes.

•    Fast Food: Fast food consumption is a major risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Those who frequently consume fast food tend to have higher cholesterol, higher levels of inflammation and imbalance in blood sugar levels. Sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, pasta are some of the fast foods to avoid for high cholesterol. Cooking more meals at home is associated with lower body weight and reductions in heart disease risk factors like high LDL cholesterol.

•    Processed Meats: Such as sausages, bacon and hot dogs, are foods to avoid for high cholesterol. High consumption of this kind of meats has been linked to increased rates of heart disease and colon cancer.

•    Desserts: Cookies, cakes, ice cream, pastries, packaged cookies, soda, donuts and other sweets are unhealthy foods rich in added sugars, unhealthy fats and calories. Frequent consumption of these foods can negatively impact overall health and lead to obesity, heart disease, cognitive decline and certain cancers. These foods also lack nutrients your body needs to thrive, like vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats.

•    Salt: Usually found in canned soups, salty snacks, bread and rolls, pizza, some chicken, microwave popcorn. Too much sodium can raise your blood pressure, and because of that, it is recommended not to take more than 2,300 to 2,400 milligrams per day.

•    Saturated vegetable oils: Such as hydrogenated or partly hydrogenated coconut oil, palm oil and palm kernel oil.

Lowering cholesterol levels

While avoiding some of the previously mentioned foods there are some more ways of lowering cholesterol levels. They consist of: eating more fiber, increasing physical activity, losing weight, increasing dietary omega-3, eating more vegetables and fruits. If you follow these tips along with lowering cholesterol levels you will manage to decrease your heart disease risk, diabetes risk and obesity.

Essential hypertension

Essential hypertension (called idiopathic hypertension or primary hypertension) is the form of hypertension that has no identifiable cause. It is usually familial and is likely to be the consequence of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. The other type of hypertension is secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is high blood pressure that has an identifiable cause, with a prevalence of 5% of patients with hypertension.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the artery walls as the heart pumps blood through the body. Hypertension occurs when the force of blood is stronger than usual. Hypertension can increase the risk of cerebral, cardiac and renal events.    

Risk factors

By the definition essential hypertension has no identifiable cause, however, several risk factors were identified. The list of risk factors:

  • Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases by aging. Until about the age of 64, essential hypertension is more common in men. Women are more likely to develop essential hypertension after the age of 65.
  • Race: Essential hypertension is four times more common among people of African heritage. It accelerates more rapidly and with a higher rate of serious complications in people of African heritage.
  • Family history: A personal family history of hypertension increases the likelihood that an individual would develop it.
  • Being overweight or obese:  Obesity can increase the risk of hypertension as compared with normal weight. More than 85% of cases occur in patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25. The mechanisms could include the activation of the sympathetic nervous system or the activation of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system.
  • Lack of exercise: Regular physical exercise reduces blood pressure, and at the same time increases the risk of being overweight.
  • Smoking:  Smoking doesn`t directly cause high blood pressure but it is a known risk factor for serious cardiovascular disease. Secondhand smoke also can increase the risk of developing heart disease.
  • Salt:  When sodium intake exceeds the capacity of the body to excrete it through the kidneys, vascular volume expands and this leads to an increase of blood pressure.
  • Alcohol: Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can damage the heart. Having more than one drink a day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may affect your blood pressure.
  • Stress: High levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.


The most recent classification recommends blood pressure criteria for defining normal blood pressure, prehypertension, hypertension (stages I and II), and isolated systolic hypertension. Blood pressure readings are described with two numbers, usually written this way: 120/80. The first number is systolic pressure. Systolic pressure measures the force of blood against artery walls as the heart pumps blood to the body. The second number measures diastolic pressure, which is the force of the blood against the artery walls between heartbeats, as the heart muscle relaxes.

Normal blood pressure is measured less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Elevated blood pressure is higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be hypertension. Elevated blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 120 to 129 mmHg, a diastolic pressure less than 80 mmHg. Stage 1 hypertension is a systolic pressure of 130 to 139 mmHg, or a diastolic pressure of 80 to 89 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension is a systolic pressure higher than 140 mmHg, or a diastolic pressure higher than 90 mmHg.


For most patients, high blood pressure is diagnosed when blood pressure readings are consistently 130/90 mmHg or above. A blood pressure reading can be done in the doctor`s office or at the clinic. To track blood pressure readings over a period of time, the doctor may ask the patient to come on different days and at different times. If the blood pressure is high, the doctor may want from a patient to check his blood pressure at home during regular intervals. It usually takes 2–3 readings at several medical appointments to diagnose high blood pressure.

The doctor can perform a physical exam to check for signs of heart disease, and may also order the following test to detect organ damage:

  • Cholesterol test
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG)
  • Kidney and other organ function tests


There’s no cure for essential hypertension, but there are treatments that can help manage high blood pressure and keep it under control. The treatment consists of lifestyle changes and medication. Recommended lifestyle changes are the following: exercising at least 30 minutes a day, losing weight, quit smoking, reducing stress levels, limiting alcohol intake, eating a low-sodium, heart-healthy diet (recommended DASH diet). If these lifestyle changes don’t lower the blood pressure levels enough, the doctor may prescribe one or more antihypertension medications, such as: beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers.


The excessive pressure on the artery walls caused by high blood pressure can damage the blood vessels, as well as the organs. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications including:

  • Heart attack or stroke
  • An aneurysm
  • Heart failure
  • Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys
  • Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Dementia

With a healthy lifestyle and medication, there’s a good chance that you can control your blood pressure. Controlling essential hypertension reduces the risk of a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, damage to the eyes or kidneys. If you already have organ damage the treatment would help limit further damaging.

Cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade, also known as pericardial tamponade, is a serious medical condition caused by the accumulation of fluid or blood in the pericardium (the sac around the heart), resulting in the reduced ventricular filling which keeps your heart from functioning properly. Because of this, your heart can`t pump enough blood to the rest of the body, which makes this condition a medical emergency. If not treated it can lead to complications such as pulmonary edema, organ failure, shock, cardiac arrest, and even death.

cardiac tamponade

Cardiac tamponade is usually the result of penetration of the pericardium, which is double-walled, thin sac that surrounds the heart. Common causes of pericardial penetration or fluid accumulation might be gunshot or stab wounds, trauma to the chest from a car accident, a ruptured aortic aneurysm, cancer that has spread to the pericardial sac, accidental perforation after cardiac catheterization or angiography, pericarditis, heart attack, kidney failure, hypothyroidism and many more. Other possible causes include leukemia, radiation therapy to the chest, systemic lupus erythematosus, dermatomyositis, and heart tumors.

Symptoms and diagnosis of cardiac tamponade

Symptoms of cardiac tamponade may vary with the acuteness and underlying cause of the tamponade. Patients with acute cardiac tamponade show signs like tachycardia, dyspnea, and tachypnea. Other symptoms and signs may include: low blood pressure, weakness, chest pressure, anxiety, fainting, dizziness or even loss of consciousness, decreased urine output, trouble breathing, cold and clammy extremities.


Prompt diagnosis is key to reducing the mortality risk for patients with this condition. There are often three signs any doctor can recognize, they are commonly known as Beck`s triad. They include:

  • Low blood pressure and weak pulse, because of reduced blood pumping by your heart
  • Extended neck veins
  • A rapid heartbeat combined with muffled heart sounds, due to the increasing level of fluids in the pericardium

Tests that need to be done for the diagnosis are firstly echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart, then chest X-rays, a thoracic CT scan, a magnetic resonance angiogram, and an electrocardiogram.

Pathophysiology of cardiac tamponade

The pericardium, which is the membrane surrounding the heart is composed of 2 layers. The ticker parietal which is an outer fibrous layer and the thinner visceral which is an inner serous layer. Normally the pericardial space contains 20-50mL of fluid. During cardiac tamponade there are 3 phases of hemodynamic changes, as follows:

  • Phase I – The accumulation of pericardial fluid impairs relaxation and filling of the ventricles, which leads to a higher filling pressure. At this point, the left and right ventricular filling pressures are higher than the intrapericardial pressure
  • Phase II – As fluid continues to accumulate, the pericardial pressure increases above the ventricular filling pressure, this leads to resulting in reduced cardiac pressure
  • Phase III – A further decrease in cardiac output occurs, which is due to the equilibration of pericardial and left ventricular filling pressures

The underlying process in the development of tamponade is a reduction in a diastolic filling, which occurs when transmural distending pressure becomes insufficient to overcome increased intrapericardial pressure. To maintain the cardiac output heart rate grows rapidly, which leads to tachycardia. Systemic venous return is also altered during cardiac tamponade because the heart is compressed due to the increased intrapericardial pressure.

Treatment of cardiac tamponade


Cardiac tamponade is a medical emergency that requires urgent hospitalization and drainage of pericardial fluid. The treatment has two purposes, firstly it should relieve pressure on your heart and then treat the underlying condition. Preferably, patients should be monitored in an intensive care unit, and the doctor needs to make sure that the patient is stabilized. Initial management in the hospital is by pericardiocentesis, this is a procedure that involves the insertion of a needle through the skin and into the pericardium, and then under ultrasound guidance aspirating fluid. Almost every time, a cannula is left in place for 1-2 days, so that the procedure can be performed again if the need arises. If a patient has penetrating wound the doctor can perform a more invasive procedure called a thoracotomy to drain blood.

During hospitalization, all patients should receive: oxygen, fluids, and medications to raise blood pressure. It is strongly recommended to be rested in bed with leg elevation because that can help increase venous return. Once the tamponade is under control and the patient`s condition stabilizes, the doctor may perform additional tests to determine the underlying cause of cardiac tamponade.

The long-term outlook depends on how quickly the diagnosis was made, the underlying cause of the tamponade, and any subsequent complications. The outlook is really good if the cardiac tamponade was quickly diagnosed and treated. So it`s important to seek medical help as soon as you notice any of the signs of symptoms.

Famous people who died from a stroke

A stroke or brain attack is a medical condition in which the blood supply to the part of your brain is reduced or interrupted, depriving brain tissue of oxygen which results in cell death. There are two main types:

  1. Hemorrhagic, when the blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures, causing bleeding
  2. Ischemic, when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing reduced blood flow

Throughout the history many famous people have died from a stroke, mainly because risk factors are smoking, alcohol, obesity, high blood cholesterol. The main risk factor is high blood pressure.

Famous politicians who died from a stroke

richard nixon is one of famous people who died from stroke

Most of the famous politicians who died from a stroke died in their 60s-80s. Some of them were famous presidents and some were prime ministers. Here is the list of famous politicians who died from a stroke:

  • Winston Churchill (1874-1965) – Statesman, politician, journalist, and orator.
  • Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) – Politician and soldier
  • Richard Nixon (1913-1994) – 37th President of  the USA, Military officer and politician
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) – 28th President of the USA, politician and professor
  • Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964) – Prime Minister of India, politician and writer
  • Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr (1888-1969) – Politician, diplomat and investor
  • Millard Fillmore (1800-1874) – 13th President of the USA, politician and lawyer
  • John Tyler (1790-1862) – 10th President of the USA, politician and lawyer
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) – 32nd President of the USA and politician
  • Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) – Prime Minister of Great Britain and stateswoman.

Famous actors who died from a stroke

Grace Kelly actress who died from stroke

Many famous actors, TV producers, comedians have died from a stroke. Here is the list of famous actors who died from a stroke:

  • Cary Grant (1904-1986) – Actor
  • Mel Blanc (1908-1989) – Actor, comedian
  • Mae West (1893-1980) – Comedian, actor, singer, screenwriter
  • Glenn Ford (1916-2006) – Actor
  • Paul Robeson (1898-1976) – Actor, athlete, singer, social activist, lawyer
  • Rue McClanahan (1934-2010) – Comedian, Author, Actor
  • Patrice O’Neal (1969-2011) – Actor, Screenwriter, stand-up comedian
  • Anita Louise (1915-1970) – Actor
  • Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) – TV producer, film producer, screenwriter, actor, singer
  • Peter Lorre (1904-1964) – Actor
  • Ida Lupino (1918-1995) – Actor, TV director, screenwriter, film director
  • Minnie Pearl (1912-1996) – Comedian, actor
  • Jay Silverheels (1912-1980) – Actor
  • Grace Kelly (1929-1982) – Actress, Princess of Monaco.
  • Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) – ComedianActor, composer and Filmmaker.

Famous musicians who died from a stroke

Most of the famous musicians who died from a stroke were known all around the world for their music, and some of them are already among historical figures. The list of famous musicians who died from a stroke:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – Musician, Harpsichordist, Composer, Cantor, Organist.
  • Gene Kelly (1912-1996) – Actor, Singer, TV producer, Film producer, choreographer
  • John Cage (1912-1992) – Actor, Film score composer, musician, author
  • Aaron Spelling (1923-2006) – TV producer, film producer, screenwriter, actor, singer
  • Miles Davis (1926-1991) – Actor, film score composer, songwriter, musician, bandleader
  • Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) – Musician, songwriter, film score composer
  • Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) – Italian composer

Other famous people who died from a stroke

Among many other famous people who died from a stroke there are novelists, mathematicians, chemists, kings and leaders. Here is the list of other famous people who died from a stroke:

  • Charles Dickens (1812-1870) – Novelist, Author.
  • L Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) – Religious leader, novelist, writer
  • Al Capone (1899-1947) – Gangster, Mafioso
  • Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) – Microbiologist, chemist, physician, scientist.
  • Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) – Mathematician, diplomat, physician, artist, economist
  • Kirby Puckett (1960-2006) – Baseball player
  • Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) – Author, pastor, writer, motivational speaker, preacher
  • Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924) – Marxist Revolutionary and Soviet Leader
  • Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584)- Russian Tsar
  • Edward III (1312-1377) – King of England
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)- German philosopher.
  • Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635) – French explorer

Heart healthy food

Living in a world where the prevalence of obesity-induced cardiovascular diseases is constantly increasing, it is necessary to highlight the importance of heart healthy food in our life. An unhealthy diet is recognized as a risk factor for many cardiovascular diseases, including:

•    Coronary heart disease

•    Cerebrovascular disease

•    Hypertensive heart disease

•    Peripheral arterial disease

•    Deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism

•    Other cardiovascular diseases

heart healthy food

The main problem with cardiovascular diseases is the absence of symptoms. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of an underlying disease. As WHO claims, symptoms of heart attack are: pain or discomfort in the center of the chest, or pain or discomfort in the arms, left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back, so it is advisable to visit the doctor after noticing those symptoms. Nevertheless, those diseases could be prevented by following diet suggestions:

1. Eating less unhealthy fat, such as cholesterol and saturated fat

The increase in plasma cholesterol levels leads to binding of cholesterol for walls of arteries, which become narrowed, and the blood flow is slowed down.

2. Paying attention to the number and size of portions you eat

Calories can be reduced in meals by grilling, steaming, baking, or microwaving, but frying food in a lot of oil should be avoided. If the food does not have satisfying taste, healthy herbs may be added, which include: parsley, thyme, rosemary… The ideal daily meal plan consists of 5 meals: breakfast, dinner, lunch and two snacks.

3. Reducing the consumption of sodium

Contemporary dietary guidelines recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,3 g daily, which is equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt. Excess sodium in the bloodstream pulls the water in the blood vessels in order to dilute the sodium concentration. As a result, the amount of blood inside the blood vessels increases, as well as the blood pressure.

What heart-healthy food should be eaten?



Blueberries are the major source of anthocyanins, a natural pigment. They have numerous heart beneficial effects, including vasoprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative effects, as well as inhibition of platelet aggregation.

Dark chocolate

The recommended minimum amount of cocoa beans to be found in chocolate that is healthy for the heart is 70%. A higher percentage of cocoa means a higher amount of flavanols, which are responsible for the beneficial effects of dark chocolate on the heart. By stimulating the endothelium to produce nitric oxide (NO), flavanols lower the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduce blood pressure.


It is preferable to eat it twice a week, in order to get enough supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that regulate levels of triglycerides, reduce platelet aggregation, lower blood pressure, and are considered as heart healthy food. Unfortunately, patients with coronary diseases often need omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in order to get enough omega 3 acids.

Whole grains

While whole grains high in viscous fiber (oats, barley) decrease serum LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, grains high in insoluble fiber (wheat) lower glucose levels and blood pressure.


According to recent studies, walnuts have been proven effective in lowering total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol level, and triglycerides. Walnuts also contain alpha linoleic acid that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, and they reduce the risk of cardiovascular event. Walnuts are considered as one of the most important heart healthy food.


Consumption of tomato decreases levels of oxidized LDL, reduces the risk of stroke and markers of inflammation, lowers the risk of developing hypertension in patients with pre-high blood pressure.


By reducing the hardening of the arteries and blood pressure, lowering LDL levels and total cholesterol blood levels, garlic may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular events.


Broccoli is known to be vegetable rich in essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, sulforaphane, found in broccoli, exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may lead to prevention of blood vessel lining.

Freshly squeezed orange juice

orange juice

Besides the fact that it is delicious, freshly squeezed juice orange is one of the sources of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. Moreover, it has been clinically proven to decrease the hardening of the arteries up to 30 percents, and enables normal blood flow.

There is also a diet specially created to lower blood pressure and risks of cardiovascular events, the DASH diet (an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). It is based on reducing sodium intake, limiting processed food, while at the same time increasing fruits and vegetables. Although the balanced diet, together with regular exercise and healthy lifestyle plays a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, sometimes it is required to take medications or supplementations if you want to stay healthy and live longer.