As the saying goes, you are what you eat. If you want to age well, this old adage might be your motto. Older people who maintain a diet that contains lots of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains with minimum amounts of fat and little or no red meat have increased resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels and better all-around health. They feel and look good. Their minds are sharp, their bodies strong and they enjoy their independence. Most important, they approach eating with gusto! For them, healthy eating isn’t about dieting and sacrifices. It’s about putting together meals that are colorful, varied and wholesome, and then savoring every morsel. One other secret of their nutritional health: they make sure not to eat alone. Eating in the company of others is as important to healthy aging as vitamins!
Articles for Eating Well are prepared by the Nutrition Unit at the NYC Department for the Aging.
Tackling High Triglycerides
High Triglyceride levels increase your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack, just like their better-known relative in the lipid family, LDL cholesterol. Recent research indicates it’s time to shine the health spotlight on triglycerides.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data shows that the percentage of adults with high triglyceride levels (200 mgs. per deciliter) or higher has doubled, and the number of people over age 60 with high triglycerides has tripled.
Know Your Numbers
Optimal triglyceride level is 150 mg/dl or less. A level between 150 and 200 mg/dl is borderline high.
How Food Affects Triglycerides
Dietary changes such as lowering certain types of carbohydrates can lower triglycerides. Decrease your intake of simple and processed carbohydrates, such as soft drinks, baked goods, candy and pasta made from refined white flour. Choose carbohydrates that are higher in fiber such as vegetables, beans and whole grains.
The Fructose Effect
What You Can do to Lower Your Triglycerides
Fructose, a simple sugar added to many processed foods, is quickly broken down by the body and boosts triglyceride production in the liver. Reducing beverages that contain fructose, including soft drinks and fruit juice, can decrease triglycerides.
- Decrease your total carbohydrates intake, especially from foods that contain simple and processed carbohydrates.
- Eat whole fruit, which contains fiber and slows the rate at which the fructose is broken down, rather than drinking fruit juice.
- Get moderate-intensity aerobic exercise 30 minutes per day at least five days a week
- Limit alcohol intake to one drink per day for women, two per day for men (excess alcohol consumption can raise triglycerides).