Firstly, what is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a natural fatty substance made in the body by the liver. It plays a vital role in the formation of cells, production of vitamin D, production of hormones, production of bile and digestion, BUT high levels can lead to an increased risk or a heart attack, stroke, developing atherosclerosis and other heart diseases… There are two types of cholesterol or lipoproteins:
- low density lipoproteins (LDL) or bad cholesterol and
- high density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol.
High levels of blood cholesterol from either diet or genetics will speed up the plaque’s growth faster. If the plaque bursts suddenly, it cuts off the oxygen supply to a part of the heart: which is when a heart attack can occur. The higher the level of LDL, the greater the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD). The lower the level of HDL, also the higher the risk of CHD.
There are no noticeable symptoms of high blood cholesterol or dislipidaemia and it is usually diagnosed based on medical & family history and blood test results. Whilst we can not control risk factors such as family history, getting a heart friendly diet & getting regular exercise is something we all can control.
These are the lifestyle factors that affect our cholesterol levels. So, whatever our age, if our lifestyle involves smoking, drinking alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, excess body weight and body fat or existing health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, then we are at risk of having high cholesterol. High cholesterol is not only an issue for older or overweight people.
Statistics show, according to the World Health Organisation, that 133.3 million people in the five biggest European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK) have high blood cholesterol.
A 10% reduction of blood cholesterol levels will result in 50% reduction in heart disease in men of 40 years old in the next 5 years and a 20% risk reduction in those who are 70 years old.
Here are practical ways we can all manage our blood cholesterol…
Step 1: Boost Your Exercise:
Regular exercise is an important part of our heart health and keeping our blood cholesterol at normal levels and, in general, a healthy heart. Exercise helps with weight management as well as keeping your heart healthy by strengthening your heart muscle and keeping blood vessels in a good condition.
It also helps to increase your good HDL cholesterol and stimulates the movement of fatty deposits in the liver. According to the 2013 NHS guidelines, 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is needed to help lower your cholesterol, which amounts to 30 minutes five times per week:
- Find a buddy and turn your much necessary fitness into a fun hobby you look forward to;
- keep it simple and realistic: twenty-minute walk every day and one hour of some other exercise per week will help you reach your 150 minute goal, it does not need to be more complicated than that;
- whenever you can, take stairs instead of elevator, park your car furthest from the supermarket entrance, etc… get active whenever you can as every little thing makes a difference.
Step 2: Choose heart-friendly diet:
- Read food labels and choose foods with low cholesterol and low saturated fats:
- do not buy ready-to-eat snacks like crisps (high in saturated fats, salt and sugar) and choose snacks that contain healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) like nuts, seed, sy beans and olives;
- avoid processed meats like sausages, frankfurters (choose instead lean cuts of meat),
- increase consumption of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel that contain healthy fats and Omega 3s;
- limit intake of red meats and choose low-fat milk and cheese to reduce saturated fat intake,
- avoid refined “white” carbs found in cakes, ice creams, pastries, white breads, white pasta
- Take care how you cook your food: avoid roasting and frying and, instead, poach, grill or steam and choose healthy oils during cooking such as olive oil;
- do not skip meals to lose weight: keep with eating 5 smaller meals every 3-4 hours to control hunger instead;
- shop after you eat to avoid buying unhealthy foods at an impulse;
- Increase consumption of fibre as diet rich in fibre can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Fibre helps to control your blood sugar and cholesterol, make you fuller for longer and prevent constipation or hard bowel movements.:
- choose whole grain varieties of pasta, rice and bread;
- increase consumption of fruits and vegetables
Step 3: boost your diet with beta-glucans with Beta Heart®
Beta-glucans (found in oats, oat bran, barley, barley bran) have been clinically proven to contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. Oat beta-glucan has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol.
The beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 3 grams of oat beta-glucan.
When our bodies digest oat bran, beta-glucans molecules are released. They create a gel that binds cholesterol. This is less easily absorbed into the body. The process uses up some circulating cholesterol, meaning less cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Lower Your Cholesterol with Herbalife Nutrition’s Beta Heart®
Beta Heart® is a nutritious vanilla-flavoured powder that contains the key ingredient OatWell™ oat beta-glucan. Oat beta glucan has been shown to lower or maintain blood cholesterol.
Herbalife has partnered with OatWell™ on Beta heart®, which helps to lower or maintain blood cholesterol in one step. OatWell™ products contain a 4-5 times higher concentration of beta-glucans than standard oat brand, and a natural combination of oat beta-glucan, insoluble fibre and protein.
What does 3 grams of beta glucans look like?
- 2 bowls of oat based breakfast cereals (281 calories, based on semi skimmed milk),
- 6 small slices of wholegrain bread (300 calories, based on 50% oat flour, 50gr per slice),
- 9 oatcakes (400 calories based on 15g oatcake) OR
- 2 scoops of Herbalife’s Beta Heart (only 51 calories).
Beta Heart® is also approved by cholesterol charity HEART UK, who provide expert support, guidance and education on cholesterol. HEART UK operates a product approval scheme to help signpost the public to heart-healthy foods that can play a positive role in helping manage their cholesterol.
Key benefits of Beta Heart® :
- 3 g of oat beta-glucans help to lower cholesterol (2 scoops)
- 1.5 g oat beta-glucans help to maintain cholesterol (1 scoop)
- Sugar free
- With no artificial sweeteners
- High in fibre (3 g per scoop)
- Source of protein
- 25 kcal per scoop
So, how ‘heart-friendly’ is your lifestyle?
A visit to your GP is the only way to know for sure whether your blood levels of cholesterol are ‘high’. Also, simply taking a look at your lifestyle can be an indicator:
• Do you have an unhealthy diet?
• Are you inactive?
• Do you smoke?
• Do you have a high-sugar or high fat diet?
If you are concerned, please do get in touch. We have nutrition programmes that can help manage your weight and cholesterol. The heart plays a key role in the human body – it is IMPORTANT to look after it.
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