Your kitchen holds the key to your heart

Your kitchen holds the key to your heart

• What we eat or do not eat can affect our cardiovascular health

Whoever coined the phrase, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” may have been onto something bigger than he or she had intended. We can now authoritatively state that this pathway applies to women and children as well and it may just not be what you are thinking. The kitchen may not only get you a life-partner, it may also deter­mine your heart health.

This year we are discussing heart health from January so that together we can modify what we eat in the month that most people are very pro­active about resolutions with health at the fore. Just as charity begins at home, so does heart health and to be more precise; “Heart Health Begins in the Kitchen.”

Cardiovascular diseases affect as many women as men but the risk among women is seriously underesti­mated. Heart disease is actually the number one killer of women in the world, causing 1 in 3 female deaths. Cardiovascular diseases claims over 17.5million lives each year and is the WORLD’S BIGGEST KILLER. This killer boasts of being responsible for 31 per cent of all deaths globally. Con­trary to popular belief 4 out of 5 of these deaths occur in low and middle income countries and men and women were equally affected. Why? The high income countries often have the skill and technology to keep the victims alive.

Children are vulnerable too. Their risk for these diseases can begin be­fore birth, during foetal development and may even increase exponentially during childhood with exposure to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption. Poor children, they have no control over their mother’s eating habits yet they start paying for this even before they can catch a glimpse of what this world looks like.

An undernourished mother and an over nourished one both place their unborn child at risk of cardiovascular disease.

The mother is at risk from this poor eating pattern. It is becoming increasingly clear that the food you prepare in your kitchen or fail to pre­pare may not only kill you, it may be the cause of the woes of your yet to be born child.

I hate to think that we put such a strain on children; not only do they have to cope with the emotional bur­den of living with a parent suffering from a cardiovascular disease; they may again lose a parent or even both from this evil.

Then they will have to deal with cardiovascular disease of their own. We compete to feed our children with diets with useless calories (sugar lad­en) and diets high in bad fats.

In addition to “cooking” cardio­vascular diseases in our kitchens we have also created a society where it is fashionable to avoid physical activ­ity; computer games reign supreme and children sit for hours behind a desk supposedly studying. We finally complete the kill by filling our envi­ronment with secondhand tobacco smoke.

We all know the risk factors for heart disease and strokes but I will list them once again:

• Hypertension

• Diabetes

• High cholesterol

• Smoking & excessive alcohol consumption

• Overweight or obesity

• Inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables

• Inadequate physical activity (lack of exercise)

• Excessive Salt Intake (salt like sugar is something we learn to take. We are not born with appetite for salt. Let us teach the right things to our young ones)

• Genetics??

There is certainly good news, 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. Healthy diet, regular exercises not using tobacco products (includes passive smoking) are the keys to prevention.

Let’s protect our children from heart disease; encourage the intro­duction of daily physical activity sessions in school, let’s discourage the sale or even the presence of coloured water laden with sugar and being paraded as nutritious drinks.

Encourage children to eat less salt and oil but rather more fruits and vegetables. Beware of the dan­ger “hiding” in many snacks. We will face resistance from the little ones but if we are serious about reducing the death toll especially in developing countries then we have no option but to adopt these measures.

Always strive to Make your KITCH­EN HEART FRIENDLY


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Health Essentials Ltd/ Mobissel


*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and correc­tive exercise. He is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Unravelling The Essentials of Health & Wealth.’

Thought for the week – “Heart disease does NOT discriminate. It can hit anyone regardless of age, gender, race, social class or eco­nomic status BUT you have far more control over your heart health than you may realise.”



2. WHO website

3. Mayo Clinic – Essential Heart Guide 2012.

By Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

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