Heart disease is a main non communicable disease that affects many people in the world. Increased high Cholesterol level can lead to heart diseases.
What is the use of Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is used by the body for producing hormones. Protecting nerves, building new cells and other important functions. The amount of Cholesterol in your blood comes from what is made by your liver and from the food you eat. If your Cholesterol level is
too high, it can cause heart disease.
What are the desirable Cholesterol levels for a normal person?
For the individual, your blood lipid (comprising Cholesterol and Triglycerides) levels should as follows.
· The total cholesterol level should be less than 5.2 mmol/L ( 200mg/dL)
· The HDL level should be more than 1.00 mmol/L ( 40mg/dL)
· The LDL level should be less than 3.4 mmol/L ( 130 mg/dL)
· The Triglycerides level should be less than 2.3 mol/L ( 200 mg/dL)
You can find low density lipoprotein (LDL), high density lipoprotein (HDL) and triglycerides in your blood.
LDL is bad cholesterol because too much LDL in your blood can cause your arteries to become narrow and hard (atherosclerosis).
HDL is good Cholesterol because it prevents excess Cholesterol from building up in the blood vessel.
Triglycerides are fast in your blood that is used by your muscles as energy.
Excess or high levels will put you at greater risk of heart attack. Too much Cholesterol in your blood can lead heart attacks and strokes. This happens because the excess
Cholesterol is deposited in blood vessels and can cause them to become narrow and hard.
What is the connection between food and Cholesterol?
Trans fats increase LDL (bad cholesterol). Most of the Trans fats we eat come from processed foods (e.g. pastries, cakes, deep fried food, cookies, and biscuits).
Saturated fats increase LDL and total Cholesterol in your blood thus increasing your risk of heart disease. Many foods that are high in saturated fat are also high in Cholesterol (e.g. fatty meat, skin of poultry, dishes containing coconut milk/cream, deep-fried food).
Polyunsaturated fats are good for your health and can help lower blood Cholesterol. Omega -6 and Omega -3 are polyunsaturated fats that reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke (e.g. salmon, sardine, walnuts, vegetable oils)
Monounsaturated fats lower LDL and increase HDL. They are good for your overall health and are typically high in vitamin E, an antioxidant (e.g. avocados, almonds, cashew nuts, olive oil)
Soft margarine has less Tran’s fats and saturated fat than hard margarine and butter and is therefore a healthier choice. Look for soft margarine with the Healthier Choice Symbol.
How can Cholesterol levels be reduced?
Having too much Cholesterol increases your risk of heart attacks and strokes. The good news is that you can manage your Cholesterol levels through exercise, healthy eating, weight loss and if necessary meditation.
Here are some tips for managing your Cholesterol:
- Maintain a healthy weight through exercise and a healthy diet.
- Engage in moderate intensity aerobic activity over 3 to days and accumulate 150 minutes throughout the week. Each session should last at least 10 minutes. Examples of moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, recreational swimming and leisure cycling.
- Engage in muscle strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups (arms, abdomen, shoulders, chest, legs, hips and back) at least twice a week, take a rest for at least 48 hours before your next session. Example of muscle strengthening activities include body weight resistance exercise, using resistance bands/tubing and weight lifting.
- Avoid foods that are high in Trans fats such as deep fried food, pastries and cakes.
- Use monounsaturated fats like olive oil instead of saturated fat (butter, ghee and palm oil) when you cook.
- Limit Cholesterol rich foods as organ meats, shellfish and eggs yolks.
- Eat more fiber such as whole grain food, vegetables, fruits and beans.
- Enjoy fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids like sardine, long tail shad (Terubok) and Spanish mackerel (tennggiri papan) two to three times a week.
What are the symptoms of high Cholesterol?
There are no symptoms that will tell you if your Cholesterol is getting too high. Most people find out they have high Cholesterol from a blood test during a check-up or when they have already suffered a heart attack or stroke.
This is why it is important that you get a Cholesterol test every three years starting from age 40 if you have not been diagnosed with high Cholesterol.
Message for the persons who are already talking Cholesterol lowering drugs?
· You should always have a healthy diet.
· Cholesterol lowering drugs cannot replace a healthy life style.
· Remember to take your medication as advised by your GP of Family doctor.
· People who are thin can also have high blood Cholesterol. Although being overweight significantly increases a person’s risk of high Cholesterol, anyone who eats too much saturated and Trans fats can have too much Cholesterol in their blood stream.
· If you are over 40 you should have your Cholesterol tested every 3 years of more frequently as advised by your family doctor regardless of your weight you may have a family history of high Cholesterol.
· Eating a healthy balanced diet and doing regular physical activity can help keep your Cholesterol under control