Your body goes through many significant changes after turning 50. For instance, the health of your heart changes as the walls of the heart become thicker and the arteries start to stiffen more and more over time. Because of these changes, your risk for developing heart disease will keep increasing.
One big risk factor for developing heart disease as you get older is having high cholesterol levels, which could be caused by smoking, genetics, heavy alcohol consumption, and too much weight gain. Thankfully, there are some ways you could reduce your cholesterol with your diet.
To discover more about the relationship between cholesterol levels and food, we talked with some dietitians to get their tips on the eating habits that could help you reduce your cholesterol levels after 50.
1 — Eat more soluble fiber
Now there is even more evidence pointing to oatmeal as one of the healthiest foods you could eat. Soluble fiber, which can be found in oats, fruits like pears and apples, and many kinds of legumes, is a very helpful nutrient for reducing your cholesterol levels.
“It is one of the main factors that could help reduce cholesterol because water dissolves it to form a gel-like material that binds to cholesterol,” said Amy Goodson, “and the goal is to consume 25-38 gm of fiber each day and to make 5-10 of those gm come from soluble fiber.”
2 — Choose healthier fats
According to Courtney D’Angelo, one of the best eating habits for reducing your cholesterol levels after 50 is swapping out unhealthy fats for the healthier ones.
“Limit the amount of foods you consume that have saturated fats, which could increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, like chocolate, fried foods and baked goods,” said D’Angelo.
Healthy fats, which include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, can help reduce your risk of disease. D’Angelo recommends replacing trans and saturated fats with these healthier fats, which you could get from foods like canola oil, olive oil, lean meats, avocados, nuts and fish.
3 — Eat veggies and fruits
A common mistake that many Americans make is forgetting to put enough vegetables and fruits into their diet. And if you are trying to decrease or prevent high cholesterol levels, D’Angelo says that getting enough of these types of foods becomes even more crucial.
“Consistently consuming veggies and fruits can boost important cholesterol-reducing compounds, called plant sterols or stanols, which work similar to soluble fiber,” she said.
Apples have specifically been known to help with reducing cholesterol levels because of a specific king of soluble fiber they have known as pectin, and grapes have also been known to help lower LDL cholesterol and enhance gut bacteria diversity in new studies.
If grapes and apples don’t pique your interest, produce like apricots, pears, avocados, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and carrots are all high in soluble fiber as well and could help you manage your cholesterol levels.