Cholesterol numbers are not at all overrated. We hear and read about them all over the news from time to time as a reminder that we should monitor them if we want to live healthily. Cholesterol numbers are important because they suggest one’s risk for heart disease.

Who better to advise on cholesterol and heart disease than a cardiologist? Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, MD, the founder of Preventive Cardiology Consultants, took the time to share the four worst foods for high cholesterol before the year ends. According t her, she always tries to treat her patients by suggesting a diet that’s good for them first. Part of that is telling them which foods to avoid. Below are the ones you should steer clear of to lower bad cholesterol levels.

Processed meat

This is not new at all. We’ve been told since time immemorial about the drawbacks of eating processed meat, such as bacon, hot dogs and salami. Aside from driving up cholesterol levels, the World Health Organization has said that processed meat is loaded with sodium, saturated fats and carcinogens.

Red meat

This may be hard to accept for meat lovers out there, but Klodas confirmed that red meat, including burgers, ribs, steak and pork chops, contains saturated fat and elevates cholesterol levels. However, since it’s nearly impossible for many to avoid this, she suggested eating red meat at least once a week.

Fried foods

“Frying food typically ups the calorie count because saturated or trans fats and cholesterol are absorbed by the foods during the process,” she wrote in a piece for CNBC.

Baked goods

Sadly, people with a sweet tooth should also avoid the baked goodies they love, including cookies, cakes and pastries, which are typically dense in calories and low in nutrients. They contain loads of sugar and saturated fats that translate to high cholesterol levels in the human body.

Klodas maintained that the best way to keep the heart healthy is to keep away from these high cholesterol-inducing foods. But considering it’s the holiday season, it would seem impossible for everyone not to indulge in food and drinks amid the celebrations.

She suggested eating healthier options. Instead of red meat, go for delicious lean protein from fish like cod, bass, halibut and tilapia. Ditch fried foods for baked potatoes, kale or broccoli. For processed foods, there is no better alternative than avoiding them. As for baked goods, the best way is to bake at home and control the amount of fat and sugar used.