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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on September 16th, 2014

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10 Cholesterol-Lowering Tips for Older Adults

assisted living | health tips for seniors | 60-day stay trial | cholesterol | Aging & Caregiving

10-cholesterol-tipsMore than 100 million Americans are at an increased risk for heart disease due to high cholesterol. Although this issue affects people of all ages, older adults are particularly at risk.

September offers the opportunity to learn more about the dangers of high cholesterol with the observance of National Cholesterol Education Month.

Consider these 10 simple tips which can help you or your aging loved one take steps toward better cholesterol levels.

1. Know Your Numbers!

Because high cholesterol doesn’t typically have symptoms, many people are unaware if their levels are too high. Your physician can perform a simple blood test to determine your cholesterol levels. Cardiologists recommend that adults be screened at least every five years, although your doctor may recommend more frequent testing.

2. Set A Goal

Once you know your number, setting a target goal can help you stay on track. Your primary care doctor can help you determine a healthy level.

3. Limit Cholesterol

Experts recommend consuming less than 300 mg daily of this artery-clogging substance by limiting your intake of high-cholesterol foods, such as poultry, shellfish, beef, eggs, cheese, butter and dairy.

4. Trim the Fat

Avoid saturated fats and trans fats and instead seek out foods rich in monounsaturated fats, such as canola, olive and peanut oil. The goal? A daily fat intake within 25-35 percent of your total caloric intake.

5. Pass the Salt

While sodium doesn’t technically affect cholesterol levels, a high sodium diet puts you at heightened risk for heart disease. While skipping the salt won’t help lower your cholesterol levels, it leads to the same result: improved heart health. Experts recommend limiting your intake to less than 2,300 mg a day.

6. Fill Up On Fiber

A fiber-rich diet can positively impact cholesterol levels. Choose fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains whenever possible. Oatmeal, for example, has been shown to reduce cholesterol, and is a great way to start the day.

7. Go Fish

Fish oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids -- which are valuable weapons in the fight against high cholesterol. By eating fish several times a week, you can enjoy a delicious meal while improving your heart health. Other omega-3 containing foods include nuts, flaxseed, and soybeans.

8. Drink To That

Research indicates that moderate red wine consumption may lead to a decrease in HDL levels (AKA the “good” cholesterol). Doctors recommend no more than one drink a day for women and up to two for men. But it’s not just red wine: green tea also has cholesterol-friendly abilities. If you don’t have time for a cup, green tea extract supplements also do the trick.

9. Get Moving

Just 30 minutes of physical activity each day can deliver huge benefits when it comes to lowering your cholesterol. Be sure to check with your primary care doctor before beginning a new exercise program.

10. Don't Smoke

There are a million reasons to stop smoking, and here’s another one: smoking reduces “good” cholesterol levels and can put you at an increased risk for heart disease.

While lifestyle changes can be a valuable part of reaching optimal heart health, cholesterol-lowering drugs offer increased benefits for many older Americans. A conversation with your doctor can help you determine whether a prescription is the right choice for your needs or the needs of your loved one.

Key Takeaways

  • Get your cholesterol levels checked regularly.
  • Eat a diet rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Limit your intake of cholesterol-rich foods.
  • Drink red wine in moderation and choose green tea instead of soda or juice.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Keep the lines of communication open with your physician.
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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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