A recent study presented at the American College of Cardiology reported a significant association between lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) early in life and reduced risk of coronary events such as heart attack later in life. How early in life and how much LDL cholesterol was lowered determined how much lower the risk of heart problems later on.
This makes it all the more important to ensure our youth adopt healthy lifestyles at an early age. Being physically active can help raise HDL cholesterol (the good kind), strengthen the heart, and burn calories to maintain a healthy weight. Dietary strategies include:
- Eating plenty of plant foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts which provide fiber, vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals (nutrients in plant foods that contain antioxidants and other beneficial substances that lower risk for chronic diseases)
- Substituting healthy, unsaturated fats such as plant oils (not coconut or palm kernel oil, as they are saturated) and omega-3 fats (cold-water fish, flaxseed, walnuts) for saturated and trans fats
- Eating fewer refined grains found in cakes, pies and other processed carbohydrate foods
It’s never too late to embark on a healthy lifestyle, but evidence is beginning to indicate “the earlier the better!”
Source: Ference B, et al “A Mendelian randomized controlled trial of long-term reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol beginning early in life” ACC2012; Abstract 306-8.