Visiting Angels Lewisburg Blog

Tips for Lowering Cholesterol

High cholesterol is known for being a leading cause of various heart health concerns including heart disease in older adults. According to the CDC, nearly 95 million Americans aged 20 and older have total cholesterol levels higher than 200 mg/dL; the recommended cholesterol level for adults, and nearly 29 million Americans have levels higher than 240 mg/dl.

What makes cholesterol dangerous is that there are no symptoms of high cholesterol. In fact, many Americans don’t know they have high cholesterol until they are tested by their doctor. The good news is, there are lifestyle changes that can be incorporated into your everyday routine to greatly reduce your risk of high cholesterol and its associated diseases. 

What is CholesterolWoman preparing meal for senior man

Cholesterol is a type of fat in your blood. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is not inherently bad. In fact, it’s a necessary substance our bodies use to build cells. Your liver naturally provides your body with cholesterol, but we also intake cholesterol from foods we consume, primarily animals and animal byproducts. When we consume too much additional cholesterol from food, that’s where complications arise. 

In order to understand how to lower your cholesterol and why you should monitor your cholesterol, it’s important to understand the types of cholesterol in your body and what it does. There are two types of cholesterol:

  1. LDL Cholesterol- This is low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and is often considered “bad” cholesterol. LDL cholesterol attaches to blood vessel walls and too much LDL cholesterol increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes.
  2. HDL Cholesterol- This is high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or “good” cholesterol. This cholesterol is what’s naturally produced in your body. It’s responsible for carrying other cholesterol to your liver, where it can then be discarded from your body.

Contributors to High Cholesterol

In addition to diet, there are other factors that contribute to high cholesterol. One of the biggest contributors is age. As we age, our bodies tend to produce more cholesterol then we need, resulting in high levels of cholesterol. Genes also contribute to cholesterol levels. Those with a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease are more likely to develop high cholesterol later in life. Other contributing factors include various lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive weight and limited exercise. 

Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

There’s no one quick trick for lowering your cholesterol. Instead, lowering your cholesterol is about making daily lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. Here are a few tips to consider when trying to lower your cholesterol.

  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats. Saturated fats most commonly reside in dairy products and red meats such as steak and bacon. Be mindful of the foods you’re consuming and try alternative low-cholesterol foods such as soy milk and poultry.
  • Eat foods rich with omega-3 fatty acids. Food high in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce triglycerides which is a fat found in the blood. Omega-3 acids can be found in seafood such as salmon, herring and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish per week to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. 
  • Consume soluble fiber. Eating foods with soluble fiber such as oatmeal lowers LDL cholesterol because it reduces the amount of cholesterol absorbed in your bloodstream. Additional foods containing soluble fiber include fruits such as apples and pears, as well as various types of beans, nuts and seeds.
  • Find ways to keep moving. Maintaining a routine of just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can greatly reduce the LDL cholesterol level in seniors and increase HDL levels. Regular exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight, which is important for maintaining good cholesterol levels. Moderate exercises that are great for seniors include activities such as walking or swimming. 
  • Regularly moderate your cholesterol levels. Men and women aged 45 and older should regularly get their cholesterol levels checked by a doctor yearly. If your cholesterol levels are high, talk to your doctor about medications to reduce your cholesterol levels.
  • Change any poor lifestyle habits. Eating right and exercising works best if you’re also maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. In addition to limiting saturated fats, it’s also beneficial to monitor your intake of trans fats. While not all trans fats are bad, try not to consume them in the form of packaged cookies and crackers. Smoking also increases your risk of high cholesterol by lowering your HDL, or “good” cholesterol.

It’s never too late to improve your cholesterol. If you or a loved one needs assistance in preparing low-cholesterol meals or an accountability partner to help maintain a regular exercise routine, the caregivers at Visiting Angels Lewisburg would be happy to help. If you’d like to learn more about our services, you can fill out this contact form, or give us a call at 570-768-4747.

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