One of the most common conditions affecting Golden-age adults today is high cholesterol. It can be treated with prescription medications, but lifestyle changes are recommended first because they are easier to stick to and cheaper than drugs, especially when the condition is mild or moderate. Making lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol levels in seniors can also lower blood pressure, which may have increased due to the increased cholesterol levels in your body. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this alone because plenty of lifestyle changes can naturally lower your cholesterol levels and prevent serious complications later in life, including memory loss and cardiovascular disease. Here are the top lifestyle changes that can help to lower your cholesterol levels in your golden years.
Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
Eating a heart-healthy diet can lower your cholesterol levels and help you feel better. People who eat many foods with saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol have higher levels of LDL cholesterol. Heart-healthy foods help you make better choices, such as choosing lean meat instead of fatty meat and limiting butter and cheese.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Healthy fats can help reduce your risk for heart disease by lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol level without raising your HDL (good) cholesterol level too much. Try replacing some saturated or trans fats in your diet with unsaturated fats to see if it helps you reach treatment goals faster than before. Choose plant-based oils instead of solid fats like butter, margarine, lard, or shortening.
Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are good fats, but getting enough of them can be tough—especially if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol. Eat fish at least twice a week or take some fish oil supplements. Fatty acids help control triglycerides and other fats in your blood. If you don’t like seafood, consider taking a daily omega-3 supplement instead. Your doctor might also recommend eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s found in fish oil have been linked to lower rates of heart disease, improved blood vessel function, and reduced levels of inflammation.
If you smoke and you’re over 65, you should quit smoking if your goal is to lower your cholesterol. Even if you haven’t smoked for a long time, quitting can lower your cholesterol levels. If quitting isn’t an option for you, consider switching to e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco; they don’t increase cholesterol like regular cigarettes do. Other lifestyle changes such as moderate exercise and weight loss can also help lower blood pressure and improve lipid profiles.
Eat The Right Kind of Fat
Trans fat increases LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, which puts you at risk for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume less than 5 grams of trans fat per day; less than 2 grams per day is even better. A serving of common vegetable oil has about 3 grams of trans fat, so substitute olive or canola oil instead. High-fat foods, such as pizza and ice cream, are high in saturated fats—another type of bad fat that raises your LDL levels. If you eat these foods once in a while, it shouldn’t be an issue; don’t make them staples in your diet. Instead, opt for leaner protein options like fish or poultry when possible.
Drink Alcohol Only In Moderation
Moderate alcohol consumption is good for your heart. However, if you’re over 65 and you have high cholesterol, it’s best to limit your alcohol intake. An extra drink per day could bump up your total cholesterol by an average of 17 points (when your HDL is above 40). It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a drink, just that you should keep them to one serving. Aging adults can develop heart disease and Alzheimer’s as a result of high cholesterol levels.