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Cholesterol in Red Meat

Having a high cholesterol level doesn’t cause any symptoms.

However, it leads to the build-up of plaque within the arteries. Plaque buildup – also known as atherosclerosis – increases blood pressure and can damage the heart.

The good news is that cholesterol generally can be reduced to normal with diet, exercise, testing and medication.

Physicians recommend that anyone over 20 years old have a periodic blood lipid profile. This test differentiates between total, HDL and LDL cholesterol. It also measures triglycerides.

LDL – low density lipoproteins – are small fat molecules that increase the risk of heart disease.

They can combine with fats and trans-fats to increase risk. Red meat is a major potential source of LDL cholesterol. Avoiding red meat is one way to decrease heart disease risk.

HDL – high density lipoproteins – helps the body scavenge and remove LDL cholesterol. In general, the higher the HDL cholesterol, the better. Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and other “good fat” sources help to raise HDL and lower LDL.

Triglycerides are formed when the body converts unnecessary calories from sugar, alcohol, and simple carbohydrates (such as white bread and white flour) into a type of fat that causes obesity.

The simplest way to reduce LDL and improve HDL cholesterol is to cut red meat out of our diet. This works rapidly to improve the profile for heart disease. Combined with a diet high in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes, a red-meat-free diet encourages the best cholesterol measures and reduces LDL cholesterol.

For details, see WebMD’s article on cholesterol and how to reduce it by avoiding red meat and other problem foods at

Here are some charts that summarize the various cholesterol boundaries. LDL ↓ 100 Optimal 101-129 Acceptable 130-159 Nearly High 160-189 High 190 ↑ Dangerous HDL 60 ↑ Optimal 40 ↓ Low (for men) 50 ↓ Low (for women) Triglycerides ↓ 150 Optimal 150-199 Borderline 200 ↑ High Total Cholesterol ↓ 200 Optimal 200-239 Borderline 240 ↑ High

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