One common misconception that we usually heard is “Cholesterol is bad for our body”, however this is not true when researchers in recent studies found that Cholesterol is actually not the main cause of heart diseases and even stroke.
Cholesterol comes from 2 sources, (1) our liver produces cholesterol naturally, and at the same time, Cholesterol also comes from the (2) food we consume daily.
Scientists have discovered that 20% of the Cholesterol in our body is primarily used for normal functioning of our brain. The remaining 80% of the Cholesterol is used for the production of our hormones, vitamin D, and digestive fluids.
So in other words, Cholesterol is actually necessary to ensure the normal functioning of our body processes.
In the previous article “The Truth About Fats Revealed”, we have discussed about the different fats from our food sources, and how to make the right, healthy food choices. Good Fats are safe and are essential for the body. Consumption of Good Fats will also regulate Cholesterol production.
Fishes (Salmon, Trout & Sardines), Oils (Kanola, Olive, Sunflower), Peanuts, Avocado fruit are a few examples of the good source of Good Fats.
Find out more from the article: “The Truth About Fats Revealed”
It is best to avoid all sources of Bad Fats / Trans Fats, as this will ultimately affect our Cholesterol levels. The main source of Bad Fats come from our daily foods; foods that we usually snack on.
Fast Food, Sweets (Dounuts, Cakes), and other similar types of foods.
Identifying the Good & Bad Fats
A healthy and balanced diet is essential to keep our good and bad cholesterol levels in check. Firstly, we need to understand what diet contributes to our cholesterol levels before making any changes. The experts in this field, our nutritionists, will be our best guides to designing a healthy and balanced diet plan for us. Every individual is different, hence our calorie requirements and energy intake are different as well. These different parameters will ultimately affect the choices of food we make.
The journey to healthy and balanced cholesterol levels starts by making healthy food choices. Changes to our eating habits will not happen overnight, therefore taking small baby steps and making minor changes is the key to success. Malaysians staple food today is rice. Reducing our portions of rice can be our first healthy option. There are also different types of rice available. Choosing a lower Glycemic Index (GI) rice (such as brown rice over white rice) is another healthy option we can make. Understanding the different types of food and the suggested amounts to take will enable us to make healthy, informed choices of our food.
Answer: Oats contain nutrients that benefits our body to reduce our cholesterol levels. Oat beta-glucan in particular, have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, if you are already on cholesterol-lowering medications, kindly speak to your pharmacist and nutritionist first before deciding on whether to change or stop your medications.
Answer: This is a common misconception. Our cholesterol levels are mainly affected by the food we eat and our lifestyle habits. Hence it is important to regularly check our cholesterol levels, which can be done at the nearest clinic or pharmacy.
Answer: The most effective solution is to adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Here are 4 simple tips we can start today.
Tips 1 – Healthy Diet
Practicing the diet suggested by the Malaysian Ministry Of Health is the first step we can take. The ‘Healthy Plate’ concept keeps the types and amount of food we take in check. This healthy concept suggests a quarter portion of carbohydrates, a quarter portion of protein and a half portion of vegetables and fruits, for every meal we eat.
The types of carbohydrates we choose also matters. The Glycemic Index (GI) is a good indicator for us to select healthier carbohydrate choices when we eat. Foods with GI value below 55 is a healthier option to choose.
Vegetable source of proteins are a healthier choice when compared to animal protein sources. Try replacing our meats with tofu or legumes in our meals.
Green leafy vegetables are healthier options as compared to starchy, carnivorous vegetables. Vegetables like carrots and potatoes are less preferred. Instead, we should increase our amounts of green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce.
Tips 2 – Exercise Regularly
Exercise should be included in our daily lifestyle habits. With the emerging modernized era today, many of us end up in front of our mobile phones or tablets most of the time. Simple and quick exercises such as cycling, gardening, brisk walking when done regularly, are effective to keep our cholesterol levels in check.
Tips 3 – Avoid Stressful Lifestyle Habits
Stress and lack of sleep of is another thing we can change and be in control of. Our body and internal organs need sufficient rest to be able to function optimally. Chronic diseases like high cholesterol emerges when our body lacks the energy to support the normal functioning of our internal organs.
Tips 4 – Adequate Nutrition
Our body is made up of millions of basic units, better known as cells. When our cells are healthy, our internal organs are healthy, that makes us healthy. What does our cell require? Adequate nutrition is necessary for our cell to function. Relying on food sources alone to obtain this nutrition is not sufficient in our modern society today. The amount of vitamins and minerals in 1 orange today is no longer the same as the orange that was grown 100 years ago. This is due to many attributing factors, such as the lost of nutrients in the soil that is used today, due to industrialization and to meet the high demand of crops. Therefore, nutrition in the form of supplementation is one of the other alternatives to ensure that we get sufficient nutrition to our cells, and to our body.