20 August 2013
5 Ways Older People Can Reduce Cholesterol in Their Diet
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. It accounts for more than 50 per cent of all deaths in adults over the age of 65, and that applies equally to both sexes.
Elevated cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and this is particularly so with the elderly population. Of course cholesterol levels are just one piece of the puzzle, but an important one nonetheless. If you have high levels of cholesterol your doctor will prescribe drugs to help, but there are some steps you can take yourself. Here are some tips on how older people can reduce cholesterol in their diet.
1. Reduce Saturated Fats.
One of the chief culprits in raised cholesterol levels is saturated fat. A lot of people in the UK consume too much saturated fat, and you’ll find it in foods such as butter, cheese, cream, fatty cuts of red meat, cakes…the list is quite long. Unfortunately these are foods that a lot of people enjoy. You don’t have to give up everything, but switch to lower fat alternatives: skimmed milk instead of full-fat, cottage cheese instead of that wedge of brie. Think moderation in all things, and you should be OK.
2. Eat More Unsaturated Fats.
This goes hand in hand with the above. You need fat in your diet to be healthy, but try and get most of it from unsaturated fat sources. Not only is it better for you, it actively reduces cholesterol levels. Sources of unsaturated fat include oily fish (salmon and mackerel), nuts, seeds and avocados.
3. Eat More Fibre.
Vegetarians and vegans have lower cholesterol and much lower rates of heart disease compared to the rest of the population. Part of this could be down to the fact that many vegetarians adopt other healthy lifestyle options (less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise), but it is also helped by the amount of soluble fibre in their diet. There are two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibre can be absorbed by your body, and has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. You’ll find soluble fibre in oats, fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses among others.
4. Use Olive Oil.
Heart disease is much lower in people who follow a Mediterranean diet and olive oil plays a big part in that (alongside the oily fish, fruit, vegetables and salad that make up the bulk of the diet). It contains a variety of antioxidants that lower cholesterol in the blood. Use olive oil for cooking, to make salad dressings or in any way that you might normally use vegetable oil or fat.
5. Consider Soya Products.
Soya-based products do help lower cholesterol levels slightly alone, but they have a bigger impact when used as a substitute for red meat. This is because they are much lower in saturated fats and provide plenty of fibre too. Substitute those pork sausages for a soya alternative and you’ll be improving your cholesterol levels.
Because risk of heart disease increases with age, and cholesterol is a factor in developing problems, it’s important to have your cholesterol checked regularly. If any problems arise, your GP will be able to offer help and advice on how to tackle the problem, but remember that by making some small changes to your diet you can help lower your cholesterol levels and keep your heart healthy.
At Hallmark Care Homes we see good nutrition as an integral part of the care we provide.