PETALING JAYA: While there are genetic factors involved in whether someone develops it, diet and lifestyle changes can help treat and prevent dyslipidaemia – an abnormal amount of lipids (fatty substances) in the blood.
Malaysian Dietitians’ Association president Prof Winnie Chee said lipid disorders such as dyslipidaemia are related to diet and lifestyle, and they could also be inherited.
Some lipid disorders include having high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), having low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) or having high triglycerides (fat compounds from food carried in the blood).
“Most patients have mixed dyslipidaemia, with elevated LDL and low HDL cholesterol. This is commonly seen in patients with diabetes as well.
“Diet and lifestyle play an important role in preventing and managing hyperlipidaemia, ” said Chee.
She spoke of the importance of adopting a high-fibre diet by incorporating plenty of vegetables, fresh fruits and wholegrains.
“Also, people should eat lean proteins such as fish, poultry, moderate seafood, low-fat dairy and plant proteins such as beans, nuts, legumes and soybeans, which are low in saturated fat, ” she said, adding that people should cut down on fatty red meats, processed meats (such as sausages and ham) and baked pastry products.
“Exercise will help control weight gain and maintain a healthy HDL-cholesterol level.”
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia nutritionist and senior lecturer Dr Wong Jyh Eiin pointed out that dyslipidaemia is an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
For a healthier diet to reduce the risk of developing dyslipidaemia, she advised people to reduce intake of high-fat foods, especially saturated and trans fat.
“Trans fats are hydrogenated fat, or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and is found in fried, baked, packaged and processed foods.
“Eat more fibre-rich foods. Soluble fibres (such as oats, legumes and barley) can help bind and excrete fats from the body.
“The intake of simple and refined carbohydrates (including sugar) and processed foods should also be minimised, ” she said.
General practitioner Dr Lee Chee Wan said a multi-pronged plan – including diet, exercise, abstinence from smoking – can lower LDL cholesterol by 20% to 30%.
“Those with failed lifestyle modification may require treatment with drugs, if found suitable after medical consultation, ” he said.
Noting that some Covid-19 deaths were linked to dyslipidaemia, he cited a 2021 research paper which suggested that the administration of statin (a drug which helps lower cholesterol) for Covid-19 patients could potentially lower risk of mortality.
Dr Lee recommended that people make it a yearly routine to go for a lipid test (blood test) so that they are aware of whether or not they have dyslipidaemia.
“The lipid blood profile is a simple and inexpensive test, ” he said.