Maybe you love luncheon meat, but you’ve heard it can affect your cholesterol levels. The truth is luncheon meat can increase your cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that travels through your bloodstream in particles called lipoproteins. Your body uses cholesterol to make essential vitamins and hormones. When your body has too much cholesterol, it can cause blockages in the blood vessels.
Dangers of Cholesterol
Blockages can lead to serious health issues including heart attacks and strokes. Two types of lipoproteins exist. Low-density lipoproteins can lead to blockages in your arteries, while high-density lipoproteins help remove cholesterol from your body. A higher HDL helps decrease your risk of heart disease by keeping cholesterol out of your body. Your body naturally produces cholesterol and obtains additional cholesterol from your diet. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal products such as meats, egg yolks and dairy products. If you eat too much dietary cholesterol, your cholesterol levels will rise.
Dietary Cholesterol in Luncheon Meat
Luncheon meat is processed meat that is smoked, cured, salted or has chemical preservatives added to it. This includes meats such as bologna, pepperoni, salami, bacon, canned meats and hot dogs. Harvard Medical School reports an increased risk of heart disease of more than 40 percent from eating processed meats. Luncheon meat contains a high level of dietary cholesterol. Limit or avoid luncheon meat if you want to reduce your risk of increasing your cholesterol levels.
Bodily Cholesterol Levels
High levels of sodium intake can also increase your cholesterol levels. Luncheon meat has up to four times as much salt as other meats and a higher number of preservatives. The high levels of dietary cholesterol and sodium in luncheon meat may leave you searching for other ways to lower your cholesterol. Plant-based foods such as vegetables and fruits are good alternatives. According to the National Cholesterol Education Program, plant-based foods do not contain cholesterol and will not increase your cholesterol levels.
The National Cholesterol Education Program says all adults over the age of 19 should have their cholesterol checked every five years. If you have a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol, you may be at higher risk. Avoid using tobacco products. Maintain a healthy body weight and participate in regular exercise as directed by your doctor. Eat foods that are low in sodium, total fat and cholesterol.
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: What Is Cholesterol?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: LDL and HDL
- The National Cholesterol Education Program: Facts about Blood Cholesterol
- Indiana Department of Education: Guide to Processed Meats/ Meat Products/ Cheeses
- Harvard Medical School Health Publicans: Red Meat: Avoid the Processed Stuff
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