September is National Cholesterol Education Month. For seniors, controlling cholesterol levels is more important than ever. Let’s talk about why lowering your cholesterol is so important.
Cholesterol: Good and Bad
There are two types of cholesterol: good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. The good guys, also called HDL (high-density lipoproteins), help bring cholesterol deposits away from the blood vessel walls. The bad guys, or LDL (low-density lipoproteins), cause cholesterol deposits to settle into blood vessels. Most doctors agree that total cholesterol levels should be below 200 mg/dL. LDL, in particular, should be very low–especially in individuals who have heart disease or are at risk of developing it. HDL levels should be around 60 mg/dL. Another factor to consider is triglyceride levels. The recommended level of triglycerides in the blood is 150 mg/dL.
Why Is High Cholesterol Bad?
Low-density lipoprotein–the bad cholesterol–has been linked to higher risk of atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in the arteries). High levels of LDL in the blood cause fatty deposits to stick to blood vessel walls rather than be expelled from the body through the liver. Atherosclerosis has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke because it causes the arteries to narrow. This in turn restricts the flow of blood and weakens the artery walls.
How Can Seniors Reduce Cholesterol?
There are several ways you can reduce your cholesterol if it’s gotten too high. Most doctors agree that losing excess weight is a good way to naturally lower cholesterol. You can also add heart-healthy foods to your diet. Oily fish, oats, whole grains, fruits high in pectin (apples, strawberries, citrus fruits), eggplant and okra are just a few great foods for cholesterol control. If you’re serious about lowering your cholesterol, you absolutely have to give up smoking. Smoking has a negative impact on blood pressure, stroke risk, and oxygen levels in the blood. Have more questions about heart health, cholesterol or senior wellness?Check out our blog for regular content updates!
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