Seven Simple Ways to Lower Cholesterol for a Healthy Heart

taylor shuman Taylor Shuman Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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The CDC reports that two in five adults in the nation experience high cholesterol1. High cholesterol is the primary culprit for heart disease and stroke, which are both leading causes of death in the U.S.

High cholesterol has no significant signs or symptoms, which is why being proactive and taking care of your wellness is paramount, especially as we age. It is important to note that, while the effects of high cholesterol can be scary, it is not an inevitable part of getting older and can be avoided with the right precautionary steps. Keep reading for our top seven tips to keep your cholesterol low and your quality of life high.

Types of Cholesterol

Before we take a look at our top tips, it’s important to understand the different kinds of cholesterol. There are two types of lipoproteins that carry cholesterol through the body: low-density protein (LDL) and high-density protein (HDL).2

  • LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad” cholesterol, as it raises risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL, on the other hand, is often regarded as “good” cholesterol because it absorbs cholesterol in the bloodstream to transport back to the liver before being flushed out of the body.

High levels of HDL can lower risk for stroke and heart disease, so it’s important to be able to differentiate the two. Now, let’s take a look at seven ways to lower your cholesterol!

1. Exercise

woman doing a yoga pose

Moving your body on a regular basis every day has many perks, including raising levels of HDL cholesterol! Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day can help maintain a healthy heart. There are many different exercise options for everyone, so be sure to find a routine that works for you and suits your needs.

Pro Tip:

Pro Tip: Need some ideas to incorporate into your workout routine? Check out our guide on the best workouts and exercises for seniors.

2. Read Nutrition Labels

Man in a grocery store looking at a food label

One of the easiest things you can do to help keep your cholesterol down is to read nutrition labels on the foods you keep in your kitchen routinely. Knowing what is on the label can help you understand what beneficial nutrients you’re consuming and find possible trans fats that are hiding. Trans fats are, arguably, one of the worst ingredients for increasing LDL cholesterol levels, so cutting them out of your diet can have a large impact on your heart health.

3. Reduce Saturated Fats and Boost Unsaturated Fats

hamburgers, fries and other snacks sitting on a table

Foods enhancing the risk of cancer. Junk food

Foods such as chips, cookies, microwaveable meals, and processed meats are all high in saturated fats and should be eaten sparingly. Consider boosting your unsaturated fats to obtain good cholesterol levels and fiber intake. Unsaturated foods are items such as:

  • Avocados
  • Raw fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, apples, oranges, and carrots
  • Olives
  • Eggplant
  • Nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, and almonds

4. Don’t Smoke

Hands breaking a cigarette in half

Quit smoking, no tobacco day, mother hands breaking the cigarette

Nicotine is a common culprit for high LDL cholesterol levels. The Mayo Clinic stresses that just one year after you quit smoking, the risk of developing heart disease is half that of a smoker3. If you smoke nicotine, consider cutting the habit cold turkey, or reduce the amount of nicotine you consume.

FYI:

FYI: Curious of other factors that impact heart health? Read our guide on heart health to stay informed.

5. Only Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Group of friends drinking

Surprisingly, moderate alcohol consumption contributes to possessing higher levels of HDL cholesterol. However, it is important to note that this does not mean to drink irresponsibly. For healthy adults, one drink per day for those over the age of 65 can have long lasting benefits4. If you’re drinking more than that, consider reducing your intake.

Get Checked Regularly and Work With Your Doctor

Patient talking to a doctor

In certain instances, implementing healthy lifestyle changes are not enough to get cholesterol levels down, so it is important to consider conversing with your doctor. There are medications to help lower cholesterol levels that work in tandem with healthy habits, and your doctor can work with you to create a game plan that is uniquely tailored to your needs.

7. Pass the Salt and Fill Up on Fiber

Fiber rich foods

Even though salt, or sodium, does not directly affect cholesterol, high levels of sodium does increase the risk for heart disease. Lessening your salt intake will improve overall heart health. But, unlike cutting sodium, increasing fiber-rich foods has been known to positively impact cholesterol levels. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like oatmeal are great foods to eat that naturally decrease cholesterol.

Final Thoughts

Subtle changes such as modifications to your diet, incorporating exercise, reducing nicotine consumption, and keeping your doctor informed can significantly benefit your quality of life and cholesterol levels. While these changes can seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that you do not need to completely change your life. Building good habits has life-long rewards, so be sure to reference this list as you embark on your heart health journey.

Written By:
Taylor Shuman
Senior Tech Expert & Editor
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As SeniorLiving.org’s tech expert and editor, Taylor has years of experience reviewing products and services for seniors. She is passionate about breaking down stigmas related to seniors and technology. She loves finding innovative ways to teach seniors about products and… Learn More About Taylor Shuman