Hypercholesterolemia or a high level of cholesterol in blood has contributed to an increasing rate of cardiovascular diseases in Malaysia. According to the National Heart Institute (IJN), it was reported that Malaysian tends to develop heart diseases at a younger age (58 years old) as compared to other Asian and western countries. A cholesterol-lowering drug prescribed to reduce cholesterol level, modification of lifestyle and behavior is suggested in parallel with the treatment including eating healthy food, avoiding alcohol and food containing polyunsaturated fat, and exercising. Apart from that, a therapeutic diet containing probiotics is also believed to aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
Additionally, there were several scientific evidences proved that diet supplemented with probiotic could improve lipid metabolism. This was because the influence of live microorganisms in foods give a positive impact to human health especially lactic acid bacteria (LAB). LAB such as bifidobacteria or lactobacilli are usually present in fermented milk or namely yogurt. Yogurt has been consumed by people in the Middle East since 10,000 years ago which have more nutrition as compared to milk because it contains a source of protein, calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B12, folate, niacin, magnesium, and zinc. It can also be consumed by lactose-intolerant individuals as well as lowering the secretion of gastric juice in the stomach.
Stress and unhealthy diets negatively affect your intestinal microorganisms, which eventually leads to health problems. In order to maintain a healthy environment for gut bacteria, scientists have been suggesting the consumption of probiotics. A study by Mohamadshahi and his colleagues found that the consumption of yogurt for eight weeks significantly reduces cholesterol levels in diabetic patients. The mechanisms that promote in improving lipid profile was explained by Lee and company probably because the production of short-chain fatty acids by LAB inhibited the enzymatic synthesis of cholesterol in gut, thus reducing cholesterol production.
Furthermore, yogurt just like milk contains good source of vitamin D which aid your body to uptake calcium from foods. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or usually called as ‘bad cholesterol’ when present in high level could result in increasing risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) such as stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease, or atherosclerosis. Dietary management for hypercholesterolemia patients, usually suggesting low fat or low cholesterol diet in combination with low salt diet. Reduction of 1% cholesterol level in the body will also decrease 2 to 3% risk of coronary heart disease. Anderson and his team in their research recommend 200ml intake of low-fat yogurt daily can help in lowering serum cholesterol concentration.
In short, consumption of low-fat yogurt without added sugar not only help in lowering risk of cardiovascular disease, but also lessening the risk factor of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Combining the serving of yogurt with plant sterol (such as nuts, legumes, fruits and vegetables) will add extra nutrition values thus maximize the goodness of probiotic to general health. The practice of consuming a cup of yogurt a day is highly recommended to all adults not only as a source of protein, but also as a source of calcium while providing benefits to the digestive system.
Maryam Azalan is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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