Dyslipidemia, high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure are conditions considered to put you at risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke and heart attack.
If you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack or any of the conditions that put you at risk, getting advice to improve your diet and lifestyle is important.
The dietary management of cholesterol is currently controversial, with conflicting advice, even amongst professionals. Does saturated fat in the diet matter? Does having high cholesterol really matter, or is it the type and density of the cholesterol that matters the most? What about if it’s genetic?
What is understood is that there are three key factors that need to be addressed to improve health and reduce risk of CVD. Inflammation is the first, as it’s involved in all the stages of the development of atherosclerotic plaque. Inflammation changes the way blood vessels can function and is so influential in the progression of CVD that it has been suggested to be of greater consequence than elevated cholesterol. The second factor is oxidative stress – a disturbance in the balance between the production of free radicals (damaging molecules) and antioxidant defenses. The third factor is insulin resistance and managing high blood sugars. Insulin resistance increases the amount of sugar in the blood, which can play a role in changing the structure of cholesterol in the blood to a form that is considered to have a greater chance of forming fatty deposits in the arteries.
No matter what age you are, having a healthy diet, being active, not smoking and keeping stress low, are four key area of your lifestyle that give you the best chance of reducing your risk of CVD.
Some of the things we can help you with:
- Learn which foods are high in antioxidants to help protect from oxidative stress
- Understand which foods have anti-inflammatory properties and how to incorporate these into your day
- Feel confident in reading food labels to check for foods that can cause inflammation in the body; or for salt that contributes to high blood pressure
- Increase dietary fibre, particularly the types which can help reduce cholesterol
- Reduce carbohydrates or improve the quality that you eat, to best manage blood sugar levels
- Increase your intake of omega-3 unsaturated fats
- Eat a whole-food diet in order to best nourish your body by providing it with the nutrients it needs to function optimally
- Using certain nutrients to improve the health of your vascular system, including magnesium and CoQ10.
Did you know that you can test for certain genes that may be impacting your risk for CVD? High levels of homocysteine and/or S-adenosylhomocysteine in the body, two molecules involved in the methionine methylation cycle (biochemical process), are associated with early atherosclerotic disease and cardiovascular events. Learning whether your genes are influencing these molecules, is helpful for personalizing recommendations to you.
If you are interested in genetic testing for more personalized advice about diet, supplements and lifestyle that can help to improve your health and reduce your risk of a CVD outcome, book in to see our Dietitian Amanda Moon. Learn more about our Nutrigenomic testing HERE.
Consult packages that may be of interest:
Our dietitians who can support your condition: