Appearance can be deceiving when it comes to assessing a person's body fat composition or size, especially when it comes to a type of ‘invisible fat’ that is difficult to discern from your physical appearance but lurks within your blood vessels like a ticking time bomb!
Both cholesterol and triglycerides are essential fats required for normal body functions, and they can either be produced by the liver itself or absorbed from foods such as meat, shellfish, or offal. However, excessive amounts of these fats could harm the body.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL is a ‘baddie’ that forms atheroma, a fatty substance which accumulates on blood vessel walls, narrowing or even blocking the vessels altogether. Conversely, HDL ‘stands sentinel’ and helps remove bad cholesterol to protect your cardiovascular health.1
Triglycerides are a ‘transport team’ that absorb and transport fat. Before calories from food are consumed in your body, they are stored in the liver or fat cells and converted into triglycerides as a source of backup energy.2
Triglycerides are closely related to cholesterol. When triglyceride levels are too high, it not only affects the synthesis of good cholesterol, but also makes the body produce more bad cholesterol, increasing the chances of developing coronary heart disease and stroke.2
Moderation is key: neither too high nor too low
They are called ‘invisible killers’ because there are no obvious symptoms when either level exceeds the limit. By the time some people experience fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, or other symptoms, it might already be a warning sign for arteriosclerosis. However, it is not necessarily true that ‘the lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels, the better’, because lipids are essential fats for the human body. Without enough lipids, you might get memory issues, dizziness, heart palpitations, and a weakened immunity among other things.3
More of two, less of two: habits to reduce heart disease risks2,3
Change your lifestyle to lead a healthy life
Alex, a participant of AXA BeOnTrack programme, had been struggling to lose weight since childhood. His triglyceride level even reached 1.75 mmol/L when he first started the programme, indicating that his body had raised a red flag.
Determined to improve his health, Alex decided to participate in BeOnTrack. A professional team composing of family doctors, dietitians and personal trainers started with diet, exercise, and other habits to tailor a health management plan on weight control for Alex. After 6 months of effort in which Alex strictly controlled his diet and ran regularly, he finally manages to lose 30 lbs and his triglyceride level has even dropped by 47% to 0.93 mmol/L!
A healthy lifestyle is the key to good health. We hope whoever reads this article will act now and change your lifestyle to lead a healthier life.
1 American Heart Association CHI-What-are-High-Cholesterol-and-Triglycerides.pdf (heart.org)
2 Matilda International Hospital matilda.org/zh/matilda-wellness/health-topics/1907-controlling-cholesterol-and-triglycerides-zh
3 Care For Your Heart https://careheart.org.hk
4 Asia Diabetes Foundation https://diabetesrisk.hk/what_is_cholesterol
The above content is reviewed by Dr Alexander Chiu - Chief Medical Officer of AXA Hong Kong and Macau.
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BeOnTrack is a lifestyle change programme helping you build healthy new routines that could last a lifetime. Accompanying every step along your health journey, our expert trio supports you with personalised health, nutrition and fitness advice, in conjunction with our digital health platform, enabling you to be a BetterMe with a better life!