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Blood (LDL-) cholesterol: People should know their levels

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  • A big part of the population doesn’t know their blood cholesterol levels.
  • High total and esp. LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • A diet rich in plant-based foods, including foods with added plant sterols and stanols next to physical activity is helpful in managing blood LDL-cholesterol levels

Sometimes, important health indicators which can point to the onset of disease carry no symptoms to warn people about the need for action. Therefore, knowledge is important in prevention and pre-emptive action.

Blood LDL-cholesterol is  such a case without being visible without measuring. It has been proven by strong scientific evidence that high LDL-cholesterol levels are a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease – which remains the no.1 killer in the world. Maintaining low LDL-cholesterol levels, therefore can help to reduce CVD risk.

LDL-Cholesterol and CVD

When there is too much blood LDL-cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of the arteries. Over time, this build-up causes “hardening of the arteries” so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. The blood carries oxygen to the heart, and an inadequate supply of blood and oxygen to the heart may cause chest pain. If the blood supply to a portion of the heart is completely cut off by a blockage, then the result is a heart attack.

A high blood LDL-cholesterol level itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important for the public to know what their cholesterol numbers are because lowering LDL-cholesterol levels that are too high reduces the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack. LDL-cholesterol lowering is important for everyone, younger, middle-aged, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease.

To know blood LDL-cholesterol levels (as well as other important health indicators that may carry no or very few early physical symptoms), a simple blood test should suffice.

A healthy lifestyle to improve your cardiovascular health 

                Most CVD instances in the population can be prevented efficiently by switching to more active and healthy lifestyles. Maintaining a healthy weight, together with healthy eating patterns, physical activity and quitting smoking are the key factors for a good cardiovascular health.

Once people are aware of their cholesterol levels the next step is to reduce and maintain low blood LDL-cholesterol levels. A healthy diet rich in plant-based ingredients, low in saturated fats and supplemented with foods with added plant sterols or stanols should be the preferred strategy. It has been proved that a daily intake of 1.5-3.0 g/s plant sterols or stanols dose-dependently reduces blood LDL-cholesterol levels by 7-12.5% in a period of 2 – 3 weeks.

The IPSSA campaign initiative

                To promote these key messages for public health, we have decided to embark on an awareness campaign which we will be unfolding very soon. Meanwhile, we would like to invite you to visit our website and view our infographic which provides more information on plant sterols and stanols.

Setting new goals for a healthy heart

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  • The beginning of the year is the moment where people pretend to change towards a healthier diet and lifestyle
  • One important first step in preventing cardiovascular disease is to get blood LDL-cholesterol levels measured and acting to reduce them

It has become a cliché to begin a year with new thoughts and promises about healthier living, especially once the holiday buzz is over and the reality of daily life resumes.

A most frequent goal people set for themselves is usually around healthier nutrition and a more active lifestyle. This is understandable as there can be no doubt that they both help in preventing the onset of numerous diseases including cardiovascular disease (CVD) which remains the No.1 killer in the world.

How to make it happen?

According to psychology experts here are some strategic tips for anyone wishing to make some changes in the new year:

  1. Do not see this as a resolution: Instead of making a very solemn long-term commitment about a grand goal (running the marathon this year), one should make short-term manageable and easy-to-achieve commitments
  2. Stick to the goal: Once one has picked a small but realistic and manageable goal, one should persist. Experts claim that most goal-setting in this context is achievable in the morning and therefore a switch to healthier breakfast foods might seem to be more achievable
  3. Make it easy: Picking the easier options, like a breakfast food which is healthy but requires little additional time to prepare seem to have the greater effect
  4. Keep track: There are thousands of apps which are designed to help people keep track of their resolutions and anyone can choose what suits them best

Blood LDL-cholesterol levels are a threat to a healthy heart        

Being aware of blood cholesterol levels is a first and focused step in establishing a realistic framework on which to develop successful strategies for reducing elevated blood cholesterol levels. A simple blood test and a consultation with a physician can establish this very quickly.

A healthy diet, rich in plant-based foods accompanied by foods or supplemented with added plant sterols or stanols may be a good strategy to keep blood LDL-cholesterol levels under control. They can be easy and conveniently introduced into the daily diet, and it has been proven that a daily intake of 1.5-3.0 g/d plant sterols or stanols dose-dependently reduces blood LDL-cholesterol levels by 7-12.5% in a period of 2 – 3 weeks.

Next week, we at IPSSA plan to announce an important initiative which will be informing the public and media about cardiovascular disease, blood LDL-cholesterol as a significant risk factor of CVD and the role of an active lifestyle, a healthy diet, and plant sterols and stanols in keeping blood cholesterol levels low.

Meanwhile, to know more about plant sterols and stanols, check out our infographic  summarizing their positive effects on blood LDL-cholesterol lowering.