Tuesday, February 19, 2013

HeartActive: Help for high cholesterol

When you live a healthy lifestyle, staying active, eating your veggies and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, you tend to expect that you will automatically be blessed with good health. Well, I do anyway….  So I’m pretty miffed that my cholesterol levels have started to creep upwards over the past couple of years.

Yep, age and heredity seem to have caught up with me, and the last test I had showed a slightly alarming 7.0. Yikes. In case you’re wondering: that’s officially classed as “high cholesterol”. According to the government’s Australian Institute of Health & Welfare:

Total blood cholesterol levels above 5.5 mmol/L are an indication of a greatly increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. Levels above 6.5 mmol/L are considered to indicate extremely high risk.

Uh-oh. The Australian recommended ideal cholesterol level is below 4.5, and I’m not even close. Luckily my HDL cholesterol is high and my triglycerides are low, so it isn’t all bad news, but it’s still time for action. Being a nutrition nut, I’ve done my research into cholesterol-lowering foods, and one of the nutritional strategies most recommended by the Heart Foundation and other health organisations is the consumption of two to three serves daily of foods fortified with plant sterols. 

Enter my new “super food” to the rescue: HeartActive milk.

HeartActive is a 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in as little as three weeks. It’s available in 1 litre cartons as fresh white milk – so you’ll find it in the refrigerator at the supermarket – but it has an extended shelf life of forty days from production. Of course, it’s a good source of calcium and all the other goodies that usually come in milk too.

I did a little research into plant sterols and discovered that they occur naturally in all plants (clever plants!).  I also found a long-winded sciencey explanation of what they actually are, but it had complicated diagrams and made my head hurt. 

Anyway, the important thing I discovered from my research (a.k.a. “Asking Dr Google”) is that the Heart Foundation recommends 2-3g of sterols be consumed per day from plant sterol-enriched foods. That converts to 2-3 cups of HeartActive milk.

I’ve been a low fat or skim milk drinker for the past thirty-odd years, and (hurrah!) this stuff is 99% fat free, so I’ve already switched. I sploshed it into my porridge this morning and couldn’t tell the difference, to be honest.

With HeartActive in my tool kit as well as a couple of other dietary tweaks, I’m on a mission to crush my high cholesterol into submission.  I’m looking forward to watching that number go down.

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion only and is not intended as medical advice. If you have high cholesterol or any other medical issue, please consult a qualified medical practitioner.



Debstar said...

My hubby has high cholesterol so I'll be on the lookout for the milk.

Kek said...

Mine actually likes it, Deb. And he doesn't have high cholesterol, but it can't hurt, can it?

Charlotte Orr said...

Shame it's not lactose-free. I was having it, along with the Jalna Heart Smart yoghurt, for a few months, but the lactose just makes me feel so tired. There was a noticeable difference when I stopped having it a few weeks ago.

Kek said...

What a pest food intolerances are, Charlotte. :/

Bec said...

Just for your info take a look at Johnny Bowden - The Cholestrol Myth. might convince you to drink full cream, organic, raw (if possible)milk. Too many people are being conned and fooled into the whole cholesrtol thing. Best intentions here.

Kek said...

Thanks for your input, Bec. I'm well aware that cholesterol levels aren't the be-all and end-all of heart disease risk, and I don't actually avoid saturated fats in general, as I know that our bodies require some for various functions.

I do think though, that high cholesterol shouldn't be completely ignored, and if a simple dietary addition like plant sterols can help, then I'm up for it. It certainly beats prescribed statins, which I'm definitely not keen to take. :)

There's undoubtedly plenty we don't know about cholesterol, and I'm always interested to know of any new research results - I keep my eyes peeled, and appreciate a heads-up from readers. I'll check out what Mr Bowden has to say.

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