Did you know that 215 South Africans die every day from heart disease or stroke and that heart disease claims the second most lives after HIV/Aids in the country? Me neither. How scary is that? Heart disease is a cause which is very dear to my heart as nearly 5 years ago, I lost my beloved father to this sickness.
Before continuing with this post and the sharing of some yummy heart friendly recipes, I wanted to share with you all a great competition where you can win R2000 cash and a romantic picnic for Valentine’s Day! Plus, every share on Facebook with the #hugyourheart tag means that Pharma Dynamics will donate R5 to the HSFSA. See www.hugyourheart.co.za for more details on how you can play your part in raising vital funds for the non-profit organization.
How crazy is it that in South Africa, 21% of young adults are not taking proactive steps in lowering their blood sugar levels while the older generation is more proactive in taking care of their hearts?
A just-released survey, which was conducted by SA’s leading cardiovascular medicine provider to determine how heart-aware South Africans are in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, revealed that nearly a quarter described their relationship with their hearts as ‘on the rocks’.
Of the 2 000 respondents that participated in the poll, almost half (46%) pleaded guilty to activities that put them at risk of heart disease, which includes smoking and drinking too much alcohol, overeating, consuming too much salty, sugary and greasy foods, whilst also living a sedentary lifestyle.
Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics says the findings are telling of the nation’s trivial attitude toward heart-health.
“Unfortunately, it usually takes someone we know to have a heart attack or stroke before we take our own heart-health seriously. While certain genetic risk factors for these conditions cannot be prevented, modifiable risk factors that relate to lifestyle account for the majority of heart disease, and a healthy lifestyle can help to prevent 80% of premature deaths from heart disease. With so many South Africans living with cardiovascular disease, it is imperative that people identify their individual risk factors,” she says.
Jennings says the reality is that most people only start worrying about their hearts after their 40s, which is almost too late. “Everyone can and should do something to help reduce their future risk of heart disease, even if you don’t think you are at high risk. More women die prematurely from heart disease than breast cancer, therefore it is vital that both men and women of any age lead healthy lifestyles.”
Here are some easy steps on how you can save your heart
TIP 1: Choose a heart-healthy meal
Prepare dinner at home or enjoy a picnic using one of the heart-healthy recipes on www.hugyourheart.co.za
Some of my favourites are the Crispy Chicken Strips with a Roasted Chickpea Dip and the Spinach and corn bakes – find the recipe below.
Crispy Chicken Strips
1 cup (250 ml) uncooked fine polenta or mealie meal
3 tbsp (45 ml) dried mixed herbs
½ tsp (2,5 ml) salt
black pepper to taste
4 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
3 tbsp (45 ml) sunflower or olive oil for frying
Mix polenta or mealie meal, dried herbs and salt in a large, shallow dish and season to taste with pepper.
Dip a few chicken strips at a time into the buttermilk and roll in the polenta mixture to coat each strip. (Work with two forks to stop your hands from getting too messy.)
Heat 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry chicken strips in batches, until just golden brown on both sides and cooked. The thin strips fry quickly, so don’t overcook them, as the chicken will become dry. Repeat with the rest of the chicken and oil.
Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges and a sauce of your choice, such as a sweet chilli sauce. Enjoy chicken strips with salad ingredients, fresh fruit or left-over veggies like butternut.
Roasted Chickpea Dip
2 x 410 g tins chickpeas, drained, but keep the liquid
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp (75 ml) sunflower or olive oil
1 tsp (5 ml) cumin seeds
1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
100 ml lemon juice
¼ tsp (1,2 ml) salt
black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 °C and line a small baking tray with foil. Pat chickpeas dry with paper towel. Place 1 of the tins of chickpeas with the garlic, 30 ml (2 tbsp) of the oil and cumin seeds in a large bowl and mix to coat the chickpeas.
Place the oil-coated chickpeas with the seasonings on the baking tray and roast for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
Place roasted chickpeas with the oil and seasonings from the tray, in a large bowl. Add the remaining chickpeas, oil, ground cumin and lemon juice. Add 50 ml of the reserved liquid from the tin. Blend to form a chunky mixture and season to taste. Add more water, if you prefer a smoother dip.
Serve as part of a lunch with fresh veggies like carrots, celery, cucumber and green beans. It is also delicious spread onto bread, any sandwich or as a dip for wholewheat pita wedges.
Spinach and corn bake
1 x 410 g tin cream style sweetcorn
4 eggs, beaten
3 spinach leaves, finely shredded
100 ml cake flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) sunflower or canola oil
1 tsp (5 ml) paprika
¼ tsp (1,2 ml) salt
lemon juice and black pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 °C and grease a muffin pan.
Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until well combined. Season with lemon juice and pepper.
Divide mixture into muffin pan and sprinkle extra paprika on top, if preferred. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
Serve as part of a light lunch with lemon wedges and a bean or lentil salad. Add avocado when in season.
However, if you are dining out more often than not, then avoid anything battered, creamy, deep-fried, rich, velvety or sautéed (in butter). Also consider ordering one entrée to share, as many restaurants serve enough for two. Splitting the meal will keep you from overdoing it.
Tip 2: Spend time with the one(s) you love: Sharing quality time with someone special, whether it be a lover, friend, family or a beloved pet, helps reduce stress on the heart.
Tip 3: Take a walk, hike or dance up a storm: Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of heart-pounding physical activity to gain the maximum benefits.
“South Africans can’t afford to wait until they face a health scare before they take action. We can all take proactive steps now to reduce our future risk of heart disease, so vow to make this Valentine’s Day, a heart-healthy one,” says Jennings.
If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I hope this post can save at least one person today and encourage some healthy, heart-friendly habits