Cholesterol is an oily and waxy substance produced naturally by the liver and found in the blood. Cholesterol has many different functions for your body and helps it to work properly. However, having too much cholesterol in the body puts you at risk of chronic diseases such as heart diseases and coronary artery disease.
This is because the cholesterol can stick to the walls of your arteries and narrow or block the walls of your arteries over time. Studies have shown that seniors with high cholesterol are at much greater risk of developing chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes.
For seniors who can manage their cholesterol effectively through diet, not only will they benefit from increased longevity, but they will also better enjoy their golden years and reduce their healthcare costs. Here are some tips on how to manage cholesterol effectively for seniors through diet.
Seniors should limit their saturated and total fat levels to healthy and appropriate levels. Less than 7% of your daily calories should be from saturated fat and only a maximum of 25% to 35% of your daily calories should come from total fat. Saturated fat raises your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as the bad cholesterol and is commonly found in dairy products, red meat, processed meat, and fried food.
Trans fat also increases your LDL while lowering your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and is commonly found in foods with hydrogenated fats and oils. It is best to switch to healthier fats and incorporate them into one’s diet instead of these unhealthy fats. Some examples of healthier fats include nuts, lean meat, and unsaturated oils such as sunflower oil and canola oil.
Seniors can also manage their cholesterol more effectively by eating foods rich in fiber. Eating fiber helps to boost heart health while reducing cholesterol levels. This is because they bind to the harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream and transport them through the intestines to be removed.
Some examples of foods rich in fiber that seniors can include in their meals are oatmeal, apples with the skin, raspberries, broccoli, beans, beansprouts, and potatoes with skin.
Soy products are rich in isoflavone and phytoestrogen compounds that prevent the body from producing or absorbing cholesterol. Studies have shown that consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day can lower LDL by 5 to 6%. Seniors can incorporate more soy products into their diets such as soy milk, tofu, and edamame pods. Seniors can also replace animal protein with healthier soy protein.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain plant compounds known as sterols and stanols that prevent the small intestine from absorbing LDL. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids that help to lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels.
Nuts and seeds are also rich in other nutrients that help to protect the heart and immune system. They are also a great snack for seniors and can replace other harmful snacks such as potato chips and fries which are high in salt. The healthiest options for seniors are chia seeds, walnuts, and almonds.
Fruits and Vegetables
A diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits also helps to lower cholesterol in your body. Some fruits such as grapes, strawberries, and citrus fruits are especially rich in pectin, which is a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.
They also contain various nutrients and antioxidants which prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaques in the arteries. They do not just help to manage your cholesterol levels, but also reduce your risk of getting heart disease.
Instead of eating white bread and rice, seniors can consider switching to whole grain alternatives which are healthier. Having more whole grains in your diet can help to manage your cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels, and reduce your risk of obesity.
Whole grains provide seniors with more minerals, plant compounds, fiber, and vitamins compared to refined grains. They also help in reducing LDL cholesterol. Some examples of whole-grain foods that will add flavor, nutrition, and texture to your diet include brown rice, bulgur, rye, quinoa, wheat berries, wild rice, and amaranth.
By replacing red meat and processed food with fish and eating fish regularly, seniors can reduce their LDL levels while increasing their HDL levels. This is because fishes are rich in omega 3 fatty acids that help to lower your triglyceride levels and help you to maintain a healthy cholesterol level. This also reduces your blood pressure and helps with your brain and body function.
Seniors should consider eating fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna. Most fishes are also low in trans and saturated fats, with many containing no trans-fat at all. Moreover, instead of deep-frying your fish, you should opt for low-fat preparation, such as broiling or steaming.
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