Not many have heard of metabolic syndrome. And this is surprising considering the prevalence of this condition. According to an article by Mohammad G. Saklayen, metabolic syndrome has reached epidemic proportions, with more than a billion people worldwide affected by the condition.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person experiences at least three of five specific cardiovascular risk factors. These include high blood sugar level and blood pressure, excess abdominal fat, high triglycerides and unhealthy cholesterol levels. While having any of these symptoms is not ideal, people with over three of these conditions are at a much higher risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and blood vessel disease.
The good news is that you can minimize these risk factors by making a few changes to your lifestyle habits, eating healthy being one of them. Not sure where to start? Here are a few diet tips from a German nutritionist, Frank Hindemann, to get you on the right path to a healthier life.
The Right Food
Food rich in fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, oats, lentils and whole-grain bread, can reduce bad cholesterol and balance blood sugar levels. This, in turn, can minimize your risk of heart disease and stroke. The recommended daily dose of fiber is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
Food rich in potassium, such as dates, lentils, mushrooms, tomatoes and yogurt, can help to balance blood pressure. This is because potassium-rich foods do counter sodium in your diet, which can raise blood pressure.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as chia seeds, almonds, mackerel, olive oil and avocados, help to raise the levels of good cholesterol, says the nutritionist from www.sundt.de. “Adequate levels of good cholesterol in the body help to keep the blood vessels and heart in a peak condition. Psyllium fiber and vitamin B-3 complex are also good for balancing cholesterol in the body.”
The Wrong Food
Food packed with sugar can make metabolic syndrome worse. This is because sweets contain refined carbohydrates, which can make you obese and increase blood sugar levels. As such, it’s important to read the labels on products before you make your purchases. Sugar can be listed as sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose or levulose.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to reduce the intake of the following foods in your diet: sweets, corn syrup, white rice, fruit juices, sugary drinks, and baked goods such as cakes and cookies.
Trans fats are usually added to processed foods to increase their use by date, and can lead to unhealthy cholesterol levels and even diabetes. Some of the foods that contain trans fats include: margarine, deep-fried foods, crackers, potato chips, frozen dinners, pies and pastries.
High sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. Since salt contains sodium, you should limit your salt intake to a quarter of a teaspoon per day. However, keep in mind that even foods that are not salty often contain salt and sodium. If you want to keep your sodium levels under control, avoid the following foods: cheese, frozen dinners, smoked or cured fish and meat, soy sauce, canned vegetables and boxed cereals.
In Germany, for example, around 20 percent of the population has metabolic syndrome. This number is even higher in the United States, where 23 percent of people suffer from the condition.