You may have never heard of metabolic syndrome. However, you could have one or more of the risk factors that make up this condition. If you are overweight, have high triglycerides or high blood sugar, read on. The information here can help you manage your risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
What is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of five risk factors that increase your chance of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The five risk factors are:
If you have at least three of these five risk factors, your health care provider may diagnose metabolic syndrome. The good news is that it's possible to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome by making lifestyle changes.
Can I prevent metabolic syndrome?
You can help prevent metabolic syndrome by taking the following steps:
Eat well to prevent metabolic syndrome
Making nutritious food choices can help lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Here are some tips:
Eat a variety of healthy foods each day by following Canada’s Food Guide.
Get plenty of fibre by eating vegetables and fruits and choosing whole grains.
Choose plant-based sources of protein, such beans and legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds, more often. Plant-based proteins can provide more fibre and less saturated fat than other types of protein foods.
Limit highly processed foods. These foods tend to be higher in sugar, salt, and saturated and trans fat.
Keep saturated and trans fat low by choosing less deep-fried food, baked goods, fatty meat, full-fat dairy, butter and fast food.
Choose unsaturated fats such as olive oil, vegetable oil or non-hydrogenated margarine.
Limit sodium (salt). Compare labels and look for foods with 15% Daily Value or less for sodium. Click here for more helpful tips on lowering your salt intake.
Eat less added sugar. Try making your own baked goods from scratch using less sugar and read labels to compare the sugar content of your favourite foods.
Move more and sit less to prevent metabolic syndrome
Aim to be active for at least 150 minutes per week with moderate to vigorous physical activity. Increase light activity also, such as standing more to break up long periods of sitting. If you’re new to physical activity, speak to your healthcare provider before getting started.
Other things you can do to prevent metabolic syndrome
If you smoke, try to quit. Click here for information on how to quit smoking.
Manage stress and get enough sleep.
How can a dietitian help?
A dietitian can work with you to make changes to your diet to help prevent metabolic syndrome. They will give you personalized advice based on your specific medical history, lifestyle, culture and preferences. Connect with a dietitian today!
The bottom line
To help prevent metabolic syndrome, eat a variety of healthy foods everyday from Canada’s Food Guide and be physically active. Speak to your healthcare provider if these lifestyle changes aren't enough; you may need medicine to treat and control risk factors such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
You may also be interested in:
What You Need to Know to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Getting More Fibre
A DASH of Healthy Eating Can Help Control Blood Pressure
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider.
Last Update – December 20, 2022