A heart healthy low cholesterol diet is crucial for the elderly. Even though you are aware that having certain foods can increase the risk of heart-related ailments, it’s very difficult to change your eating habits.
A low cholesterol diet will help you reduce the heart disease risk even if you have years of unhealthy eating habits. In order to follow a heart-healthy diet, you need to know which foods you should consume more and which foods to avoid.
Dangers of High Cholesterol
Your body requires certain cholesterol to function properly. However, if the cholesterol levels are high in your body, it will stick to your artery walls, and block or narrow them. This increases the risk of various heart-related ailments such as coronary artery disease.
Following are the two major cholesterol types:
- LDL: It’s the bad cholesterol, and a high level of LDL cholesterol in your body can result in blockage in your arteries.
- HDL: It’s the good cholesterol which your body needs to function properly. It helps move the cholesterol from various parts of your body to the liver. Your liver finally gets rid of cholesterol from your system.
How to lower high cholesterol with a heart healthy low cholesterol diet?
A low cholesterol diet can help treat high cholesterol in your body. Along with this, you also need to make certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercises and weight management.
You’ll need a two-pronged approach to follow a heart healthy low cholesterol diet:
- Eat foods which reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels in your body.
- Simultaneously, avoid eating the foods which increase LDL cholesterol in your body.
Top proven heart healthy low cholesterol diet for seniors:
Different low cholesterol diet or foods can help reduce LDL cholesterol in several ways.
Some foods provide soluble fiber that binds cholesterol in your digestive system and removes them out of your system before they enter the circulation. Some foods provide polyunsaturated fats that directly reduce LDL, and certain foods have plant stanols and sterols that stop your body from absorbing cholesterol.
Following are some of the top proven healthy diets that can help reduce LDL cholesterol levels in your body:
1.) Whole grains: Whole grains such as barley can help reduce heart ailment risk as these deliver the soluble fiber that removes LDL out of your system before they enter the circulation.
2.) Oats: Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast is the easiest way to lower cholesterol. Oats offer 1 – 2 gm of soluble fiber. You can add some strawberries or a banana to increase another ½ gm. You body daily needs 20 – 35 grams of fiber and at least 5 – 10 gm should come from soluble fiber.
3.) Okra and Eggplant: These two heart healthy low cholesterol diet offer a good amount of soluble fiber and are low-calorie vegetables.
4.) Beans: Beans are particularly soluble fiber-rich food. After having beans, you won’t feel hungry for a long time since your body takes time to digest them. This is why beans are useful for losing weight. Beans come in various sizes and shapes such as kidney beans, navy beans, garbanzos, lentils, black-eyed peas etc.
5.) Vegetable oils: To reduce LDL levels, you can use liquid vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, and canola instead of lard or butter when cooking.
6.) Nuts: Having walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and other nuts daily can help decrease LDL levels by 5%. Nuts come with supplementary nutrients which are good for your heart in many ways.
7.) Foods rich in stanols and sterols: Certain foods have plant stanols and sterols that stop your body from absorbing cholesterol. Having two grams of plant stanols or sterols a day can reduce LDL levels by 10%. These are usually available as supplements. However, various food companies are integrating these into food-items like granola bars, margarine, chocolate and orange juice.
8.) Fruits: Your diet must include pectin-rich fruits such as apples, strawberries, grapes, and citrus fruits. A pectin is a form of soluble fiber that helps reduce LDL levels.
9.) Fatty fish: Eat fatty fish 2 – 3 times a week to reduce LDL levels in your body. Fish contains omega-3 fats which help in lowering LDL levels. Fish is also a good replacement for meat since meat contains saturated fats that boost LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 fats also lower triglycerides in your bloodstream and protect your heart in many ways.
10.) Soy: Your diet should also include soybeans and soy products such as soy milk and tofu. Having soy protein daily (25 grams) can reduce LDL levels by 5 – 6%.
Avoid the following foods to reduce LDL cholesterol levels:
Your low cholesterol diet should include foods that increase the good HDL cholesterol levels and decrease the bad LDL cholesterol levels in your body. The bad LDL cholesterol increase and the good HDL cholesterol decrease largely due to bad diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Following is the list of foods you should avoid:
1.) Foods rich in saturated fats: To reduce LDL cholesterol levels, you need to avoid typical sources of saturated fats, for example, some vegetable oils like cocoa butter, coconut oil, and palm oil, and animal products like eggs, whole-fat dairy products, and red meat. Although saturated fats can boost the LDL cholesterol levels, it comes with some benefits also. It increases the good HDL cholesterol levels as well as reduces the triglyceride levels.
2.) Foods rich in Trans fats: Trans fats have been banned by the FDA from the U.S. food supply. It is a byproduct of the chemical reaction which converts liquid vegetable oil into shortening or solid margarine. Trans fats contain zero nutritional value and are certainly bad for your heart. It boosts the triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels and reduces the good HDL cholesterol levels in your body.
Putting together a heart healthy low cholesterol diet:
When you invest your money to put together a healthy low cholesterol diet, it’s best to make investments in diverse ways rather than putting all your eggs in a single basket. Adding various foods to reduce LDL cholesterol levels in diverse ways will work better than just focusing on some particular foods only.
For instance, typically an assortment of mainly vegetarian cholesterol-reducing foods significantly lowers blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL. The main dietary constituents are lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, protein generally from plants, nuts, beans, and whole grains in place of highly refined grains.
A heart healthy low cholesterol diet helps keep the blood pressure in control and arteries flexible and receptive. It’s even good for vision, bones, mental health, and digestive health.
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