If you’re at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol, you need to be wary of the types of meat you consume. While there’s no hard and fast rule about which meats are the healthiest, there are some that are clearly better than others. The saturated fat found in red meat can cause an increase in cholesterol levels and make it harder for your body to process other nutrients.
Here are the worst meats for your cholesterol:
Fatty fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, and tuna have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. They also have higher levels of saturated fat than other types of fish. Fatty fish may be safe to eat once or twice per week if you don’t have high cholesterol or heart disease risk factors. But if you do have these conditions, limit yourself to one serving per month or less.
You may have heard that red meat is not good for your heart, but that’s not entirely true. If you eat lean cuts of beef and monitor portion sizes, eating beef can be part of a healthy diet. However, there are some cuts of beef that are higher in saturated fats than others and should be avoided if you’re trying to manage your cholesterol.
Red meat is considered one of the unhealthiest types of protein because it contains high amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. Red meat also contains heme iron, which is harder for your body to absorb than non-heme iron found in plants. You should limit your intake of red meat as much as possible — especially if you have diabetes or cardiovascular disease — but choose lean cuts such as top round steak or flank steak rather than fattier cuts.
Processed meats have been cured with sodium nitrite and contain high amounts of sodium and saturated fat. Some examples include bacon, hot dogs, deli meats, and sausage.