Bad eating habits ‘ hurt the heart ’

2015-10-01 06:00
PHOTO: sourced 

Junk food is the cause of many diseases in South Africa and the world over.

PHOTO: sourced Junk food is the cause of many diseases in South Africa and the world over.

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SOUTH Africans eat way too much junk food and are hurting their hearts in the process, say experts.

Tuesday was International Heart Day and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa says 210 people die each day from heart diseases and strokes.

On average five people suffer a heart attack, 10 people a stroke and 10 die of these diseases each day.

Diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are the main threats to the health of South Africans, said Dr Kenneth Mashiyi, of the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.

Two in three women, a third of men and a quarter of the children in South African are overweight or obese, said Jessica Byrne, a dietician at the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

South Africa has one of the highest hypertension rates in the world. One in three South Africans live with high blood pressure, said Byrne.

Almost one in 10 adults have diabetes.

“Diabetes and obesity are on the increase, and children eat junk food in front of the TV,” said Mashiyi.

A cardiologist from Pietermaritzburg, Dr Elias Baig, said South Africa’s non-contagious diseases stem from a culture of fast food and eating incorrectly — a diet with high levels of sugar and carbohydrates.

Heart diseases and high blood pressure are no longer the diseases of the rich, said Mashiyi. “We now see more heart attacks in populations in which they did not previously appear.

“They are not eating right. They are eating high-fat foods, and braai every day.”

Baig said there is overwhelming evidence that animal fat is not good for one and the link between animal fat and high cholesterol has been proven many times.

Too much cholesterol can clog the arteries, leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Statins to lower cholesterol are common, but Mashiyi said a healthy diet can also treat cholesterol. Cut out sugar as much as possible and eat fewer carbohydrates, advises Baig.

Mashiyi recommends that one should not exclude fat totally from a diet, but replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats.

They are not eating right. They are eatinghigh-fat foods, and braaievery day

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