Keys to healthier hearts

NESTLE Omega Plus collaborated with IJN Foundation, the charity arm of the National Heart Institute, in organising an event to discuss heart health and increase awareness on cholesterol. Media personnel were among the guests, including nutritionists, cardiologists, other medical practitioners and professionals, patients, as well as representatives from Nestle and IJN.


The session took off revealing some worrying yet important information. Made known was the fact that many are aware heart disease is the number one killer in Malaysia, but few have any inkling that risk factors can affect their heart health. While it was shocking to learn that one in two Malaysian adults suffers from high cholesterol, it was alarming to find out that nearly half are below age 40. Root causes point to the fast paced lifestyles Malaysians lead plus the nation’s strong food culture.

To share how to stave off heart disease and maintain healthy cholesterol levels were IJN’s cardiology department deputy head Dr Shaiful Azmi, consultant cardiologist Dr Emily Tan and Nestle Malaysia Berhad’s senior nutritionist Nurul Illiani Ahmad.

According to Shaiful, the gradual buildup of cholesterol is the result of the accumulation of lipids which clog the walls of arteries and prevent the smooth flow of blood and oxygen, potentially causing chest pain, heart attack or a stroke. “High cholesterol level does not discriminate. It can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender or body size. Women are equally at risk as men and people who are not overweight are just as susceptible; young people included.

“There are no signs or symptoms in high cholesterol. Most times discovery is made during an emergency case,” Shaiful informed. Possible causes identified include work stress leading to poor behavioural habits; history of diabetes and high blood pressure; and lack of exercise.


Tan, on the other hand, highlighted the fact that not all cholesterol is bad. “Cholesterol that is naturally produced by the body forms cell membranes, hormones and vitamin D. It is the additional cholesterol that is ingested when we eat; the main culprits – transfat and saturated fat – these contribute to the bad cholesterol entering the body.”

In preventing heart disease and issues that can lead to it, Malaysians are advised to be proactive with their heart health and check cholesterol levels regularly. Routine holistic heart health management that consider lifestyles, behaviours and diet, is recommended. Reading food labels and selecting foods that boost heart health is also helpful. Keeping an active lifestyle with regular exercise and daily physical activity is most important.


From the nutritionists point of view, Nurul recommended taking plant sterols, an all-natural substance that helps block the absorption of bad cholesterol.

“Essentially, plant sterols ‘block’ cholesterol from being absorbed, while the excess cholesterol in the system is excreted as waste,” she adds. Nurul recommends consuming 1.2g of plant sterols per day, which is equivalent to 255 tomatoes and 126 carrots, daily.

“An alternative would be to take formulations that contain sufficient amounts of added plant sterols”, as found in Nestle Omega Plus milk.

Nestle Omega Plus has, through the years partnered with IJN Foundation in spreading awareness and advocating healthier lifestyles and habits. ]

Together, they have organised 13 Walk-A-Sunday events and a series of other walking stints around the country, advocating lifestyle changes towards healthier living.

As Rome wasn’t built in a day, Nestle Omega Plus encourages Malaysians to take small steps in living healthier today. For more information, visit NestleOmegaPlus