3 Artificial Ingredients Dietitians Say You Shouldn’t Add To Your Meals If You Have High Cholesterol

condiment aisle at the grocery store

condiment aisle at the grocery store

Artificial ingredients are rife in our foods these days, sadly. Many manufacturers use them to maintain and preserve the taste, texture and appearance of foods. However, these ingredients can have many harmful effects on our body and the fact that the public is not well aware of what exactly these harmful effects are is also worrying.

So what are artificial ingredients? They are ingredients or flavors made with unnatural substances or created synthetically. We can usually find them in many processed and packaged foods we see on store shelves.

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To learn more about three specific artificial ingredients you shouldn’t add to your meals, especially if you have high cholesterol, we spoke to Katie Andrews, a registered dietitian and wellness expert. She revealed it to us trans fats, coconut oil and added sugars are three artificial ingredients that we should stay away from. Read below to learn more about this.

Trans fats

The number one culprit is trans fat, and Andrews explains why. “Trans fats are unnatural, man-made alternatives to butter and oil that are solid at room temperature. While this helps provide structure and texture to baked goods, promoting shelf stability, trans fats also raise cholesterol levels LDL, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease».

Andrews explains the sneaky ways companies can hide the addition of trans fats in the foods they sell to us. “Once trans fats were discovered to be carcinogenic, food companies changed their labels to better hide the added trans fats. Current law states that food manufacturers are required to list trans fats on the nutrition label only if there are more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving,” she says. In situations like this, it’s best to avoid artificial ingredients with trans fats as much as possible to reduce the risk of high cholesterol.

Examples of foods that contain trans fats are baked goods, fried foods, and French fries. She gives us a hint at another helpful tip when looking for trans fats on labels by stating, «Be careful looking for any ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ in the ingredients list. Heating unsaturated fats such as oils can also cause trace fats.» trans, that’s why fried foods are not recommended for people with high cholesterol.» Good to know!

Coconut oil

You might be shocked to see the ultra-popular coconut oil on the list since all you hear about it is how healthy it is, but Andrews has good reason why it should mostly be avoided. While coconut oil has been described as good for you, there have been little to no studies providing evidence for this claim. Andrews says, «Coconut oil is different from other unsaturated fats than saturated fats because it’s made up of saturated medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Experts have speculated that even though coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, these MCTs may provide benefits in improving HDL levels and reducing LDL levels.Unfortunately, studies have conflicting results and these claims are not supported by science.In fact, some studies show negative effects for cardiovascular health.

Instead, Andrews recommends choosing other, healthier oils for our foods that will keep our cholesterol and overall health in good shape. «Something like olive oil and avocado oil will be better options for heart health. Remember, olive oil is best for cold dressings and applications, while avocado oil can be used for high heat applications.»

Added sugars

We live in an age where even something that doesn’t taste too sweet can have a high amount of sugar added. Staying away from sugar is one thing if you’re trying to lose weight, but it turns out it has the potential to harm other areas of your health. Andrews shares that «researchers are finding that not only do unhealthy fats affect our cholesterol for the worse, but excess sugar plays a role in plaque artery formation.» He suggests avoiding foods like sugary drinks (juices, sodas, and energy drinks), sweets with added sugar, dried fruit, and surprisingly, ketchup.

But that is not all; notes the importance of checking the food labels of other healthy packaged items we commonly purchase without a second thought. «Be sure to check the labels on purportedly ‘healthy’ foods with added sugar like condiments, granola bars and flavored yogurts.»

The bottom line

Artificial ingredients such as trans fats, coconut oil and added sugars can have a detrimental effect on those suffering from high cholesterol. It’s important to continue educating ourselves by learning from the experts and applying that knowledge to our daily eating and shopping habits. These little tips and tricks can go a long way in our health journey when we’re better equipped to know what’s man-made and what’s natural.

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