High cholesterol is not our friend. Although your body needs a certain amount of cholesterol to form cells, having too much can lead to serious health problems like stroke, diabetes, or heart disease.
And unfortunately, as you age, your risk of high cholesterol increases because your liver’s ability to filter out bad cholesterol slowly decreases.
If you currently have high cholesterol, are over 50, or know it runs in the family, there are simple dietary changes you can make that can help significantly.
We spoke with a few dietitians to get their advice on eating habits to avoid if you want to lower your cholesterol after 50, as well as tips on helpful habits.
And for more heart-healthy tips, check out The Best Foods to Eat for Your Heart.
Limiting the amount of saturated fat you eat has been shown to be an effective method to help lower and manage cholesterol.
“While many people think that dietary cholesterol raises your blood cholesterol levels, that’s actually not true,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LDauthor of The Sports Nutrition Handbook, and member of our advice from medical experts. “One of the biggest contributors to high cholesterol is the constant intake of saturated fat. You find saturated fat in chicken skin, marbling and visible fat in and on beef and pork, dairy products whole, pastries and baked goods made with butter and cream, and fried foods, as well as in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils.”
“That doesn’t mean you can never eat saturated fat, but the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans say saturated fat should be 10% or less of your total calories,” she continues. .
the American Heart Association also recommends replacing saturated fats with plant-based proteins like legumes, liquid vegetable oils, and lean skinless poultry.
A common mistake many Americans make is not eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, but our dietitians warn that this habit can get in the way of your goal of trying to lower your cholesterol levels.
“Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidants, which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels by reducing LDL oxidation and preventing plaque buildup in your arteries,” says Courtney D’Angelo, MS, RD, author at Go wellness. “There are many ways to add extra fruit to your daily diet and make it a good habit. For example, you can make a protein smoothie in the morning and add blueberries, strawberries or a fruit of your choice. “
Dietitians also recommend if you’re someone who likes salad dressings or creamy sauces, you can limit your intake or look for types that are made with less saturated fat.
“A lot of people don’t realize that their salad dressings, sour cream on tacos, and Alfredo sauce on pasta are often very high in saturated fat and calories,” Goodson says. “Also, what’s really difficult is that sometimes you can’t see these foods while they’re being baked or cooked into desserts and sauces. However, these foods and ingredients are often high in fat. saturated fats, which, when consumed regularly, can contribute to an increase in total and bad cholesterol.”
This is the worst oil for cholesterol, according to science.
Eating a consistent amount of fiber each day is essential for managing cholesterol because fiber helps your body not absorb so much cholesterol from the blood.
“There are many soluble fiber foods you can incorporate into your diet today, such as oatmeal,” D’Angelo says. “Oatmeal contains a high amount of soluble fiber, which can lower bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). If you start eating oatmeal every day for breakfast, you can get 3 to 5 grams of fiber per meal. Then you can add fruit to your oatmeal and get even more fiber.”
Fast food is one of the worst things you can eat when trying to lower your cholesterol. Not only is it loaded with fat, but the sodium content is through the roof.
“While there are ‘better for you’ options in the drive-thru like grilled chicken salads, sandwiches and wraps, more fast food options are high in saturated fat, which can contribute to bad (LDL) and total cholesterol levels increase when consumed regularly,” says Goodson.
For more healthy eating tips, check out our list of 22 Meals to Melt Belly Fat in 2022.