Are you at risk?
Some risk factors for metabolic syndrome are genetic, while others are influenced by lifestyle — and the syndrome’s frequency increases with age. Here’s a breakdown of the most common risk factors linked to it. Excess belly fat Think ‘apple-shaped’ bodies — similar to the (somewhat exaggerated) figure you can see on the page opposite. Having too much fat around your waist is known to be dangerous, because that fat can make its way into your vital organs. High blood pressure The healthy range is below 120/80 mmHg. Your blood pressure can be affected by your genetics, activity levels, weight, diet (particularly sodium), stress, alcohol and whether you’re a smoker or non-smoker. Diabetes, insulin resistance or impaired fasting glucose In a nutshell, diabetes occurs when your body can’t efficiently remove the sugar in the blood that develops as carbohydrates break down. Insulin is the hormone that assists this process. The risk of metabolic syndrome is much higher if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Too much ‘bad’ cholesterol Otherwise known as LDL cholesterol, this type of cholesterol is bad for your heart and can block your arteries. Your LDL cholesterol can creep up if you follow a diet high in saturated fat. Not enough ‘good’ cholesterol Also known as HDL cholesterol, this cholesterol protects your heart. You can improve your HDL cholesterol by consuming more healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and salmon.