First of all, what is cholesterol, we do hear it quite often being mentioned maybe by relatives who have it or on health programs or even on advertisements. My sis told me she has high cholesterol too, even though she is super fit and a top runner in Kuching. We can safely say it has nothing to do with our body mass then.
“Cholesterol is a type of fat that cannot dissolve in our blood. It is transported through our bloodstream by carriers called lipoproteins (lipids) and proteins ,” said Cher Siew Wei, Corporate Wellness Manager, Nestlé Malaysia. “Cholesterol has many important functions in the body, including being part of the cell walls, producing bile acids and hormones and making Vitamin D in your skin,” she added. “Cholesterol can be found mostly in shellfish, prawns, red meat and egg yolk.”
Here’s some factual knowledge regarding cholesterol in Malaysia. The 2015 National Health and Morbidity Survey revealed that 47.7% of Malaysians above 18 years old suffer from high cholesterol levels. This significant increase (from 32.6% in 2011) is quite alarming and further statistics from the report revealed that 38.6% of these adults did not even know that their cholesterol levels were above acceptable levels. This is further compounded by the fact that 94.0% of Malaysian adults did not consume the adequate portion of fruits and/or vegetables as recommended by WHO (5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables daily).
You’ve probably also heard of good and bad cholesterol. They are known as Low density lipoprotein (LDL) or ‘bad’ cholesterol and high density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good’ cholesterol. High level of LDL is what will cause arteries to be blocked and increase the risks of heart disease. HDL is good and protects arteries from a build-up of fatty deposits such as plaque, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. People used to say don’t consume food with cholesterol coz then it will cause our bad cholesterol to increase. Actually, that contribution is very low and minimal. What really causes bad cholesterol is the Saturated and trans fats that will cause a great increase, such as fatty meat! If we keep eating fatty meat all food with saturated and trans far, what happens is, the build-up of cholesterol plagues that will harden the walls of arteries and block the blood flow, and then when the cholesterol plaque rupture, boom, that is what causes blood clots which will then lead to a heart attack or stroke.
That is why it is recommended to go for health checks and get that cholesterol checked once every 5 years if you are already 20 years old and above. For me, I get a blood test done every 2 years and maybe after 40, I need to get it done every year! So far, my cholesterol level is normal but yea I still have to maintain it and eat healthily. Risks are even higher for people who have a family history of high cholesterol or heart attack, are overweight and physically inactive, or suffer from diabetes or generally people who love to eat a high-fat diet (think meat, steak, burgers!) or people who smoke or are above 45 years for men or 55 years old for women.
There are simple steps to manage your cholesterol levels effectively:
- Get Active! Try to exercise regularly, daily if possible or just be physically active by aiming to walk 10,000 steps daily. I use my Pebble to track my steps daily! I’m also joining the Walk-A-Mile 2016 together with NESTLÉ® OMEGA PLUS® and Yayasan Jantung Malaysia happening this Sept 3, 2016 at Taman Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur.
- Stop Smoking! Smoking comes with a host of negative health effects, but more importantly, quitting smoking will improve one’s HDL Cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure.
- Lose that weight (or gain some)! Try to maintain a healthy body weight with an ideal BMI between 18.5-24.9.
- Include plant sterols in your daily diet: 1.2g of plant sterols daily can be easily consumed from 2 servings of Nestlé Omega Plus milk to manage cholesterol levels. Besides that of course, eat a healthy diet of oats, avocado, nuts, spinach, olive oil, garlic, chocolate, beans, tea, salmon and fatty fish, all known to prevent high cholesterol.
High Cholesterol levels do not show any signs or symptoms, that’s why it’s so important to manage and monitor it regularly to prevent that sudden stroke or heart attack.
ABOUT NESTLÉ OMEGA PLUS®
NESTLÉ OMEGA PLUS® is the only milk that has ACTICOL®, plant sterols that help lower cholesterol by blocking the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. NESTLÉ OMEGA PLUS® Milk also contains high calcium to keep bones strong. Just 2 servings of NESTLÉ OMEGA PLUS® each day has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol levels*. It is available in 150g, 600g and 1kg powder format, and ready-to-drink UHT format of 200ml six-pack cluster. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/NestleOmegaPlus.
*Thomsen AB, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr 2004; 58:860-870