According the Heart Foundation of South Africa heart disease and strokes are the second-biggest killers in SA, second only to HIV/AIDS.
Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer worldwide yet both strokes and heart attacks are largely preventable diseases with highly familiar risk factors, such as poor diet, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise. This year, make a conscious decision to steer clear of risk factors, and to love your heart every day.
Patrick Holford advises the following 6 steps to reduce your risk of developing heart disease:
1) Work on your basic health
Exercise every day, stop smoking and lose weight if you need to.
2) Eat the right diet
Include plenty of soya (as tofu or soya milk), almonds, seeds, oats, beans and vegetables to get plenty of the cholesterol busters as well as folic acid and magnesium in your diet. Also use turmeric and ginger liberally in your cooking and have at least one, if not two, cloves of garlic every day – or a garlic capsule. Avoid sugar, deep-fried foods and salt. Cut back on meat, cheese and other high-fat foods and avoid alcohol in excess. Have three servings a week of oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, herrings or sardines, and a daily.
3) Take B Vitamins to lower homocysteine
Raised homocysteine levels can contribute to the risk of heart disease, strokes and memory loss. Supplementing 50mg with of vitamin B6, 400mcg of folic acid and 250mcg of vitamin B12 (if you are over 50), as well as eating plenty of greens and beans will help to keep your homocysteine levels down.
4) Make sure that your diet is antioxidant-rich
Eat lots of fruit and vegetables, fish and seeds
5) Supplement with magnesium
In addition to eating plenty of vegetables, nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, supplement with 150mg of magnesium every day and double this if you have cardiovascular disease.
6) Work with your doctor
Holford advises “If you’ve had a heart attack or have very high blood pressure, I am not suggesting you throw your drugs away. Let your doctor know you want to pursue nutritional and lifestyle changes to minimize your need for medication”.