By anguillian February 10, 2012 11:06



The month of February is usually used in many countries to focus on the heart and disorders of the heart. Many residents ofAnguillacontinue to die from disorders of the heart. Unfortunately, heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood. Education goes a long way in preventing many disorders of the heart. Healthy eating and regular exercise are important in preventing many heart ailments.


Food and the heart

A variety of foods have been shown to prevent many heart disorders. Many of these foods are available inAnguilla. The following foods have been shown to be heart healthy –  have been shown to fight heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes:


Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs make many other foods heart-healthy when they replace salt, fat and cholesterol. These herbs provide good flavours to our foods as well.  Rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme contain antioxidants which are important in preventing many disorders of the heart and blood vessels.


Black Beans

Mild, tender black beans are packed with heart-healthy nutrients including folate, antioxidants, magnesium for lowering blood pressure, and fibre which helps control both cholesterol and blood sugar levels. You can rinse the beans to remove extra sodium (salt).


Red Wine and Resveratrol

If you drink alcohol, a little red wine may be a heart-healthy choice. Resveratrol and catechins, two antioxidants in red wine, may protect artery walls. Alcohol can also boost HDL, the good cholesterol. If you do not drink you can get these antioxidants from other foods.

If you do drink red wine, do not exceed one drink a day for women; one to two drinks for men — and talk to your doctor first. Alcohol may cause problems for people taking aspirin and other medications. Too much alcohol hurts the heart.



This fish is a top food for heart health. It’s rich in the 3-omega fatty acids. 3-omega fatty acids lower risk of rhythm disorders which can lead to sudden cardiac death. Salmon also lowers blood triglycerides and reduces inflammation. It is recommended that you should have two servings of salmon or other oily fish a week.



Tuna is a good source of heart-healthy 3-omega fatty acids. It generally costs less than salmon. Albacore (white tuna) contains more 3-omega fatty acids than other tuna varieties.  Mackerel, herring, and sardines also have 3-omego fatty acids.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This oil, made from the first press of olives, is especially rich in heart-healthy antioxidants called polyphenols, as well as healthy monounsaturated fats. When olive oil replaces saturated fat (like butter), it can help lower cholesterol levels. Polyphenols may protect blood vessels.

Replace those salad dressings with extra virgin oil, and it can be used on cooked veggies, with bread. Look for cold-pressed and use within six months.


Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a heart-healthy substitute for white potatoes for people concerned about diabetes. With a low glycemic index, sweet potatoes do not cause a quick spike in blood sugar. Sweet potatoes contain ample fibre, vitamin A, and lycopene add to their heart-healthy profile.



Orangescontains the cholesterol-fighting fibre pectin — as well as potassium which help control blood pressure. Having one orange every morning would be very beneficial for most persons.



The latest research on carrots shows these sweet, crunchy veggies may help control blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing diabetes. They are also a top cholesterol-fighting food, and have lots of fibre.



Oats in all forms can help your heart by lowering LDL, the bad cholesterol. A warm bowl of oatmeal fills you up for hours, fights snack attacks, and helps keep blood sugar levels stable over time — making it useful for people with diabetes, too.



Flaxseed has three elements that are good for your heart: fibre, phytochemicals called lignans, andALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in plants. The body convertsALAto the more powerful omega-3s, EPA and DHA. You can add flaxseeds to cereals and baked foods.


Low-Fat Yogurt

While low-fat dairy is most often touted for bone health, these foods can help control high blood pressure, too. Milk is high in calcium and potassium and yogurt has twice as much of these important minerals. To really boost the calcium and minimize the fat, choose low-fat or non-fat varieties.



Cherries are packed with anthocyanins, an antioxidant believed to help protect blood vessels. Cherries in any form provide these heart-healthy nutrients.



The list of healthy nutrients in blueberries is extensive: anthocyanins give them their deep blue colour and support heart health. Blueberries also contain ellagic acid, beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and fibre.



Many foods have been shown to be beneficial for your heart. In addition to those discussed, many more foods have been shown to be beneficial. It is important to have a balanced diet at all times. February is used as the month to draw attention to heart disease. Heart disease is still a major killer in many countries, including Anguilla, and although great strides have being taken, through education to raise awareness of risk factors for heart disease, much more needs to be done inAnguilla. Getting regular health screening by your doctor, eating healthy and regular physical activity are all important in preventing heart disease.


Ask Your Dr is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. Dr Brett Hodge is an obstetrician/gynaecologist and family doctor who has over twenty five years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in theJohnsonBuildingin The Valley.


By anguillian February 10, 2012 11:06


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