Cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and... potatoes

Love your heart-3

This week is the last week of Heart Month, with World Heart Day on the 29th of September. The number of people worldwide who die daily from heart attacks and strokes is alarmingly high. The sad thing is that most of these deaths can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

I was invited to attend the Love your heart breakfast, hosted by Potato Nation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation at Gemelli in Braynston on Wednesday 26 September. With updates from Professor Derick Raal and dietician Claire Julsing Strydom, it was an event that promised to be informative.

Not only was the event informative, but the food was deliciously heart healthy.

Professor Derick Raal is Professor and head of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and the University of the Witwatersrand. He left us with the message that it is essential to manage high cholesterol in order to prevent cardiac and vascular events. In order to achieve good cardiovascular health, our cholesterol levels should be less than 5mmol/l, with an LDL (low density lipoprotein) level of less than 3mmol/l. These are the current official recommendations. Prof Real hinted (quite strongly) that our LDL levels should be much lower.

How to lower your LDL Cholesterol

Prof Raal stated that most people with high cholesterol can bring their levels down by making important lifestyle adjustments. Medication has a role to play and is very effective in dropping cholesterol levels, but diet, exercise, stress management and sufficient sleep come in first place for effective prevention and management of high cholesterol levels.

Nutrition and cardiovascular disease

Claire Julsing Strydom gave us a summary of two articles entitled:
Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies
A Clinicians Guide for Trending Cardiovascular Nutrition Controversies.
From a dietician's point of view there wasn't much that could be considered eye opening. But the article outlines some of the common misconceptions that we see in our offices on a daily basis and adds some interesting facts. The following tables are great summaries from the article that shows which foods are harmful or beneficial for cardiovascular health.



These are tables will definitely come in handy in my practice.

As for potatoes…

They are nutritional powerhouses if we eat them responsibly. In other words, leave the skin on them and do not fry them! With the skin in tact, the average potato offers 3.6g of fibre. It also gives 5.6g of protein, plenty of potassium as well as other micro- and phyto-nutrients.

Hopefully this answers some of your questions and will help you to live a cardiovascularly healthy life!

Wendy Signature
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