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Heart-healthy food

May 20th, 2015


Heart-healthy food

Recently, soya protein has become all the rage because it is said to carry loads of health benefits. However, people often resort to supplementary pills rather than natural sources such as soya milk or tofu.

Tofu is a great source of protein and it is also rich in fibre and vitamin B. Soya milk and tofu are low in saturated fats and contains iso-flavones which helps reduce one’s blood cholesterol level. Iso-flavones are also reported to reduce hot flushes in menopausal women and to help protect bones and the heart as well as ward off some kinds of cancer.

I heard that one can now buy soya butter, soya yoghurt and soya-based dessert which are being marketed as healthier choices compared to their dairy counterparts. Please be warned, however, that these choices may contain a lot of sugar, and the danger from sugar overload may outdo the benefits from soya.

Another heart-healthy food is berries, which unfortunately aren’t available in most parts of Thailand. They are said to help increase HDL cholesterol in your blood, as well as keep your blood pressure healthy. A study in Finland compared two groups of people, 30 persons in each. The first group was given 140 grammes of berries each day, such as raspberries, strawberries and other berries and the second group wasn’t given berries at all. It was found that in eight weeks, the berry-eaters had higher HDL cholesterol level and their blood pressure was also lowered. Interestingly, other medicine or food isn’t reported to have as good an effect, so this is indeed good news.

Apart from that, berries are rich in anti-oxidants and anthocyanins. They can help protect you against heart diseases, stroke and some types of cancer.

As you may already know, the more colourful the fruit is, the better. The skin of colourful fruits is extremely nutritious, so it is better to eat fruits with their skin on; so don’t peel apples, etc. However, please wash fruit carefully so that you don’t eat insecticides or other chemical used during farming and transportation.

A foreign friend of mine came to Thailand and stayed at my place. She is a fruit lover and when she saw the abundant selection of fruits here she was over the moon. Usually, when she was in Australia, she would make berry puree for breakfast.

When she came to see me in Thailand, rambutans were widely available, so I bought her some. In Australia, rambutans are expensive and not as beautiful as here. One morning, she woke up and felt hungry, so she went to the kitchen and saw these beautiful, ripe rambutans. She assumed from the colour of the skin that it must be really healthy, so she took out the seed and blended the whole rambutans, with skin and all. I walked into the kitchen and found my friend making a funny face. That was certainly a bitter-sweet experience for her!

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.


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