Tips for Seniors to Lower Cholesterol Naturally (and Still Enjoy Life)
Do you ever feel like “being healthier” is code for “sacrificing fun?” With nearly 80 million adults in the U.S. affected by high cholesterol, you may worry that you can’t enjoy pizza and cake at your grandkid’s birthday party or have a beer at your next barbecue.
But there is great news – that doesn’t have to be your reality! In fact, small, simple steps can make a big difference in your health. The trick to enjoying moments with friends and family while avoiding unhealthy foods is to swap out food choices that raise bad cholesterol levels for choices that help to lower it.
“Bad” vs “Good” Cholesterol
You probably already know that high cholesterol is one of the main causes of heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases.1 But did you know there are actually 2 types of cholesterol, and one isn’t deemed “bad” at all?
LDL is the “bad” cholesterol, because it creates fatty buildups and plaque in your arteries. Higher levels of LDL have been associated with heart disease.
High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) is considered the “good” or healthy type of cholesterol. You actually want to keep this level higher – not lower. In fact, having lower levels of HDL have been known to increase the risk of heart disease.2
How to Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally
Much of lowering your LDL – the bad cholesterol – starts in the kitchen. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop eating all of your favorite foods. Regular exercise is important too!
Foods that help lower bad cholesterol
A dietary element that helps reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels is unsaturated fat. Foods that contain unsaturated fats include:
- Most types of fish
- Olive oil and olives
- Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, and pistachios
Adding more of these foods to your diet is a simple way to help your heart. Just make sure you’re not undoing their good with extra fatty additions in your recipes – refried beans with bacon and oil don’t count!
Eat healthier snacks
Small changes can have a big impact on your heart health. Consider some of these healthy swaps next time you’re snacking:
- Ditch the potato chips and grab a snack-pack of almonds.
- Swap cheese and crackers for corn chips and guacamole.
- Bake your potatoes instead of frying them.
- Instead of sugary cereal for breakfast, try oatmeal topped with fruit.
You can still be the cool grandmother with the stocked pantry while you’re being mindful of your cholesterol. Help yourself and pass along healthy habits with these DIY Healthy Snacks for Kids the next time your grandkids come for a visit:
- Trade fruit snacks for fresh berries or make your own fruit snacks!
- Make homemade popcorn instead of reaching for a buttery, premade bag.
- Turn plain toast with butter into “teddy bear toast” with peanut butter and fruit.
High cholesterol foods to limit
The keyword here is limit. In moderation, you can still enjoy most foods unless your doctor tells you otherwise. If lowering your cholesterol is your goal, some bad cholesterol offenders to limit are:
- Fried foods, like potato chips and onion rings
- Processed lunch meats, bacon and sausage
- High-sugar treats like cookies and cakes
Next time you want one of these foods, see if you can make it yourself with a low cholesterol recipe.
Don’t forget to exercise
As important as food is for maintaining your LDL and HDL levels, exercise is also a factor to lowering cholesterol and overall healthy living.
- Exercise helps lower cholesterol by:
- Increasing good cholesterol levels which help transport fatty deposits to the liver and out of your body.
- Getting your blood pumping – which helps keeps your arteries cleared.
There are so many ways to get active as a senior, and there’s no better excuse for a fun game of hide and seek or tag with your kids or grandkids!
Lowering your cholesterol naturally is one of many ways to stay healthy as you age. Plus, it’s one of the best ways to prevent heart disease. Making the effort to do these things now can help you live longer and do more of the things you want in life – like watching your grandchildren graduate high school or even get married!
1 CDC (2017, October 31). Web page: High Cholesterol Facts. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/facts.htm.
2 Bhatt, D. (2016, November 01). Low levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) appear connected to many health risks, not just heart disease. Retrieved June 25, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/low-levels-of-hdl-the-good-cholesterol-appear-connected-to-many-health-risks-not-just-heart-disease-201611021062.