Lowering Cholesterol Levels is Important (Featured Advertorial)

High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, and the risk increases with age. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, close to 40 per cent of Canadian adults have high blood cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can lead to a buildup of plaque in the artery walls, which in turn narrows the arteries and causes a condition called atherosclerosis. Blood is hampered from flowing through the heart and body, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Dr. Richard Tytus, a family physician and associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, says, “While 40 percent of Canadians between the ages of 20 and 79 have unhealthy cholesterol levels, 54 per cent of those aged 60 to 79 have high levels of cholesterol.”

How cholesterol works

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found naturally in the body. The body uses cholesterol to make cell membranes, vitamin D and some hormones. Most cholesterol is made in the liver, and a small amount comes from the diet.

If you have more cholesterol in your blood than your body needs, the result is a buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) takes cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver to be eliminated. A high level of HDL, considered “good cholesterol,” is considered heart healthy.

On the other hand, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) takes cholesterol away from the liver to the body tissue. A high level of LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” increases the risk of heart disease.

To stay heart-healthy, it’s important to keep LDL low and HDL high. Dr. Tytus says, “If Canadians can make even small changes in lifestyle, they can make an impact. By decreasing cholesterol levels by one per cent, you decrease the risk of a heart attack by two per cent.”

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, finding healthy cholesterol target levels will depend on other cardiovascular risk factors as well, such as age, sex, blood pressure and whether or not you smoke or have diabetes.

What causes high cholesterol levels?

A family history of elevated cholesterol, aging, not getting enough exercise, being overweight, an under-active thyroid gland, and diabetes or kidney conditions can all have a negative effect on your blood cholesterol levels.

Diet can contribute to raised levels, especially a diet that is high in saturated and trans fat. High intakes of saturated and trans fat may raise LDL levels. “Everything you eat impacts your health,” says Dr. Tytus. “A good diet has an impact on lowering the risk of disease.”

How foods and diet changes can help

Besides being smoke-free and incorporating 30 minutes of fitness into your daily life, changes to your diet can help reduce LDL and improve your heart health.

First of all, enjoy a variety of foods from Canada’s Food Guide. Plan your meals around healthy choices that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lower-fat milk products, lean meat and lower-fat meat alternatives.

“One of my patients told me he drinks a glass of apple juice every day,” Dr. Tytus says. “But a glass of apple juice has the equivalent sugar content of five apples. We need to avoid high levels of sugar and salt.” A whole apple provides fibre as well.

Plant sterols are naturally found in a wide variety of vegetable oils, fruits and vegetables and are effective in enhancing a cholesterol-lowering diet. Experts recommend eating two grams of plant sterols every day as part of an LDL-lowering diet. Plant sterols, when ingested, partly inhibit the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine.

Becel® pro.activ®has been fortified with plant sterols, which have been clinically proven to lower cholesterol by up to 10 per cent starting within three weeks. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Two teaspoons (10 grams) of Becel pro.activ Becel pro.activprovides 40 per cent of the daily amount of plant sterols shown to help lower cholesterol in adults.

““While it’s better to eat an apple than drink a glass of sugarlaced apple juice, it’s almost impossible to eat enough fruits and vegetables to get the recommended 2 grams of plant sterols a day,” says Dr. Tytus. “Now we have functional [fortified] foods like Becel pro.activ that make it easier to get the plant sterols we need. These foods give people another tool to help manage their health.”

Take steps to improve your heart health with simple lifestyle changes such as adding 30 minutes of physical activity per day and making small substitutions in your diet.

How Plant Sterols Found in Becel® pro.activ® Calorie-Reduced Margarine With Plant Sterols Work to Reduce Cholesterol

“Making smart food choices empowers people to manage their risk of coronary heart disease,” says Dr. Richard Tytus. “Consuming two grams of plant sterols per day can help lower cholesterol by up to 10 per cent.”

• Becel®pro.activ® is fortified with plant sterols, which are naturally found in vegetable oils, fruits and vegetables. Plant sterols help remove cholesterol from the body by partially blocking its absorption into the bloodstream.

• Consuming two to three servings of plant sterol-fortified foods such as Becel pro.activ every day can help lower cholesterol up to 10 per cent, starting within three weeks.

• Two teaspoons (10 g) of Becel pro.activ provides 40 per cent of the daily amount of plant sterols shown to help lower cholesterol in adults.

Here are some ways to incorporate Becel pro.activ into your daily meals

Breakfast Spread Becel pro.activ on whole grain toast or bagel.

Lunch Add Becel pro.activ to a sandwich made from whole grain bread or bun.

Dinner Add a spoonful of Becel pro.activ to steamed vegetables or baked potato.

BECEL is a registered mark of Unilever Canada.