Thursday, 30 September 2021

Love Your Heart - Make healthy eating choices

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People with high cholesterol are linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

In 2019, a study found that 4.74 million South Africans suffer from hypertension, making it the most prevalent chronic disease in the country. More recently, CVD continues to affect millions - it is responsible for 255 deaths daily, although 80% of heart diseases and strokes can be prevented. Globally, heart disease and strokes claim 18.6 million lives each year.

Experts agree that the nutrients you get from eating certain foods, including fibre, folic acid, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids, can help prevent heart disease and improve overall health. According to Prof. Pamela Naidoo from the Heart & Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in Lucky Star canned fish products, can reduce blood pressure, blood clotting and irregular heartbeats. It can also decrease your risk of stroke and heart failure.

As a result, Lucky Star and The HSFSA encourage everybody to actively make heart-healthy choices. “Lucky Star has always strived to create products that are tasty, nutritious and packed with all the goodness South African families need for a healthy and balanced diet. As such, Lucky Star’s fish products are endorsed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa,” adds Prof. Naidoo.

Adopting healthier eating habits

Dr  Naidoo explains that making small changes can vastly improve your health and lower your risk of CVD. “2020 was a tumultuous year, and in 2021, South Africans need comfort, reassurance and some semblance of normalcy and familiarity. As such, resorting to unhealthy eating habits or activities to keep our minds occupied has become commonplace. Luckily, just shopping more consciously and choosing food brands that evoke security and encourage healthy nutrition can make all the difference. Education is important to help consumers make more informed purchasing decisions.”

Switching up your diet to include more omega-3-rich fatty fish can also benefit our memory and brain function, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, strengthen bones and reduce pain and stiffness in joints. “Whether you’re a parent wanting to introduce the family to a more balanced diet or a high-risk individual wanting healthier protein options, Lucky Star’s range of heart-friendly products are a cost-effective and reliable alternative,” says Prof. Naidoo. “Lucky Star products are GMO-free, high in protein, and contain no additional oil, making it a healthy and delicious option that families will love.”

Love Your Heart this Heart Awareness Month

Due to the staggering numbers and rising rates of heart and stroke-related illness, World Heart Day, taking place on 29 September, was created by the World Heart Federation and aims to raise awareness of CVD and the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. It also highlights the actions we can take to prevent and control CVD and further drive action to educate people on risk factors, including tobacco use, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

According to Prof. Naidoo: “It is now more important than ever for South Africans to reconnect with their own health and bodies during these tumultuous times. “We need to start adopting better eating behaviours and incorporating physical activity into our daily lives to prevent the onset of serious cardiovascular disease. With September being Heart Awareness Month, our campaign “LOVE YOUR HEART” seeks to encourage all South Africans to actively consider their heart health.”

The CEO of the HSFSA also warns of high cholesterol, which is a big factor in women aged 35 - 55 and is a significant risk factor for CVD. “Unhealthy eating habits can lead to high levels of cholesterol, and when there is too much cholesterol in your blood, it builds on the walls of your arteries, slowing down or blocking blood flow to the heart muscle. High cholesterol is linked to cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.”

“The pandemic which has created a healthcare crisis has highlighted the need for innovative and effective ways to communicate and educate people on the importance of heart health, especially in rural communities and lower resource areas. Through the power of digital media and the #useheart hashtag, World Heart Day aims to improve awareness, prevention and management of CVD on a global scale,” Prof. Naidoo concludes.

Visit the Lucky Star website or Facebook pagefor healthy, quick and easy recipes.

Published in Health and Medicine