High cholesterol levels pose health threats to people of all ages, especially older adults. When too much cholesterol is in the blood, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease as the heart’s arteries could be blocked.
However, our parents or grandparents can stay safe by making certain simple lifestyle changes. This article explains what is a good cholesterol level and some of the measures that can be taken to attain and maintain this level.
One of the ways for our older relatives to stay safe from the problems caused by high cholesterol is to engage in regular exercise. At Seasons Retirement, residents are encouraged to participate in daily routine exercise classes to keep bad cholesterol in check.
What is cholesterol?
This is a fatty substance produced in the liver or gotten from consumed food in the form of dietary cholesterol. Cholesterol helps the human body produce vital vitamins and hormones, as well as in the building of new cells.
There are two types of cholesterol in the bloodstream:
● Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “the bad cholesterol,” when at high levels, causes heart problems by blocking the heart’s arteries.
● High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), or “the good cholesterol,” helps eliminate LDL.
What level of cholesterol is healthy?
Are you wondering what is normal cholesterol level in Canada? Then, you have your answer here.
Measurements of cholesterol levels vary from country to country. In Canada, cholesterol is measured in millimoles per litre (mmol/l).
A total cholesterol level below 5.2 mmol/l is considered healthy for Canadians, while anything above 6.2 mmol/l is deemed too high.
Causes of high cholesterol levels
What can make an older person develop higher amounts of LDL than what is a good cholesterol level? Reasons may include:
● Living a sedentary and non-active lifestyle.
● Smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
● Eating unhealthily.
High cholesterol levels can also be gotten from one’s family genetically. This implies that people whose family members have a history of bad cholesterol are particularly at risk of developing the condition.
Trans fats are created industrially by hydrogenating vegetable oil to extend the shelf life of food prepared with it. This type of fat decreases good cholesterol levels in the blood and increases bad cholesterol, putting its consumer at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
They are used to prepare various food products such as french fries, pancakes, fried chicken and many other pastries. Trans fats are now banned in the United States and some other parts of the world.
Apart from having a negative impact on the lungs, smoking raises LDL levels in the human body.
Furthermore, cigarettes contain acrolein, a harmful chemical substance that limits the ability of the good cholesterol in the body to transport the bad cholesterol to the liver to be broken down and eliminated from the body.
To maintain normal cholesterol levels for adults, it is imperative to reduce smoking or quit it altogether.
Drinking alcohol in moderate amounts helps boost the body’s good cholesterol levels to keep one safe from cardiovascular diseases.
However, taking excessive amounts of alcohol can do the opposite, negatively impacting the liver and raising the body’s bad cholesterol levels.
Older persons should take alcoholic drinks, if they have to, in moderation to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Physical exercises boost mental alertness, cognitive abilities and physical fitness. They also help keep older adults’ cholesterol levels in check.
Easy exercises such as jogging, brisk walking, and swimming help promote the expulsion of LDL from the body.
Excess body weight makes the body produce more cholesterol than usual, which could easily lead to an unhealthy buildup of LDL. When one loses weight, less cholesterol is produced in the liver. To avoid being overweight, you can make a routine out of the following:
● Regular exercising: This helps to burn excess fat and keep one active.
● Rather than relying on fast food and junk food, choose wholesome, nutritious foods with minimal calorie content.
● Regulating the volume of food one consumes.
Soluble fibres are nutrients contained in foods such as vegetables and fruits.
They help avoid the buildup of cholesterol by preventing LDL from entering the bloodstream and getting them excreted from the body instead. It’s worth noting that soluble fibres only affect LDL or “bad cholesterol” and don’t have any effect on HDL or “good cholesterol” levels.
Examples of foods containing high soluble fibres levels are fruits and plants like pears, oats, beans, strawberries, and quinoa.
This type of health-friendly fat is contained in foods such as peanuts and pumpkins. Monounsaturated fats are distinguished by the fact that they only feature a double bond in their chemical structure.
Foods that contain high levels of monounsaturated fats are known to increase HDL in the body, thereby enhancing the elimination of LDL. Other health benefits of consuming foods rich in this type of fat include the following:
● They are low in calories, aiding weight loss. In turn, this helps the body produce less cholesterol.
● They are known to help combat high blood pressure and some kinds of cancer like prostate cancer.
● They can help regulate blood sugar levels.
Foods containing high monounsaturated fat content include hazelnuts, canola oil, olives or olive oil, soybean oil, avocados, and sesame seeds or sesame oil.
While several medications can be used to treat high cholesterol levels, it is most advisable to prevent this condition from occurring in the first place as ‘prevention is better than cure.’
For this reason, it is essential for older adults to know what is a good cholesterol level and how to make the needed lifestyle changes to naturally keep their LDL and HDL levels in check using the tips mentioned above.