A significant rise in heart disease among Indians could be due to inappropriate dietary habits and a lack of exercise. Some children may also be at a higher risk for developing dyslipidemia (high triglycerides and high LDL cholesterol).
Dyslipidemia defined as high cholesterol and/or high triglyceride can be lowered with a healthful diet. Indians may have a condition called insulin resistance or “metabolic syndrome”. The primary cause of an increase in heart disease in Indians is due to the metabolic syndrome described as high triglyceride levels and low HDL (good cholesterol) levels. These levels are also associated with upper body (waist) obesity and high insulin levels in the blood. Metabolic syndrome includes dyslipidemia (high triglyceride levels, small LDL particles or pattern B, and low HDL levels), high blood pressure, a moderate increase in blood sugar or diabetes. Accompanied by a small weight loss (if overweight), consistent daily aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour e.g. walking can increase the good HDL cholesterol and lower triglyceride, lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar. In fact life style changes including exercise and weight loss (if overweight) can reverse insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome in many people. The question we should ask is not whether one should exercise. The question we should be asking is whether we can afford NOT to exercise. A high level of homocysteine and lipoprotein (a) are also risk factors for heart disease. Ask your doctor if you should have these blood tests.
Lowering your triglyceride levels
Triglycerides are the blood fats strongly associated with diet and weight. Being overweight, excessive sweets consumption and excessive alcohol intake can increase the triglyceride levels in the blood. The best level of triglyceride is 150 mg/dl or less, however, some lab slips indicate levels up to 250 mg/dl as normal. An increase in triglycerides can suggest changes in the lipoprotein patterns that are not healthy. This unhealthy change is referred to as Pattern B. Eating a high carbohydrate diet can cause triglycerides to increase. Both what you eat and the amount of food you eat can change triglyceride levels. If your overeating causes you to gain weight this will also raise your triglyceride. Alcohol can also increase triglyceride levels in the blood. Eating fatty fish e.g. salmon, mackerel and trout once or twice a week may help lower triglycerides as these are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds may also be beneficial on a heart healthy diet although they do not have the two essential fatty acids EPA & DHA that fish does.
Fitting Fats and Oils into your daily diet
Fat is an important nutrient because the body cannot produce its own and must get it from the diet. A low fat diet accompanied by weight reduction will lower triglycerides. Eating too little fat but enough food to maintain your weight usually results in your triglycerides going up and your HDL going down. Although your triglyceride may stay in the lab normal range (<150 mg/dl) you do not want your triglyceride to go over 100 mg/dl. If your triglyceride levels go above 100 mg/dl your HDL will usually go down. Obviously, you do not want to do anything to lower your HDL. A healthy HDL for men is at least 45 mg/dl and for women is 55 mg/dl. Sometimes, reducing your fat intake will allow you to lose some weight. During active weight loss, HDL is reduced.