Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death globally. CVD is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. According to the latest figures published by the World Health Organization (WH0), an estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32 percent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, you can greatly reduce your risk of CVD by making healthy dietary interventions.
Even small tweaks can have a significant impact on CVD risk, as a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology shows.
Rooibos tea was shown to offer protection against the precursors of CVD.
Rooibos tea, also known as red tea or red bush tea, is made using leaves from a shrub called Aspalathus linearis.
The herbal tea hails from South Africa, but has become a staple around the world.
For the study, 40 volunteers consumed six cups of fermented/traditional rooibos daily for six weeks, followed by a control period.
CVD markers, such as lipid profile, were measured at the end of each study period.
Lipid profile is a blood test that can measure the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood.
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Cholesterol is a waxy substance that can clog up your arteries, thereby raising your risk of CVD.
By the end of the study, “the lipid profiles showed that rooibos consumption, compared with the control values, significantly decreased serum LDL-cholesterol”, the researchers wrote.
LDL cholesterol is commonly branded the “bad” cholesterol because it clings to the inside of your artery walls.
What’s more, HDL cholesterol levels improved following rooibos consumption.
HDL cholesterol is dubbed the “good” cholesterol because it picks up LDL cholesterol and transports it to the liver where it is flushed out.
Unlike LDL cholesterol, increasing HDL levels reduces your risk of CVD.
“Confirming its popular use, consumption of fermented, traditional rooibos significantly improved the lipid profile,” concluded the researchers.
Other key tips to reduce your risk
It is vital to reduce your intake of saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of meat, lard, cream, cakes and biscuits, advises the NHS.
Instead, “try to include healthier sources of fat, such as oily fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil”, says the health body.
In addition to improving your diet, you should also engage in regular physical activity.
“Adults are advised to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, such as cycling or brisk walking,” advises the NHS.
“If you find it difficult to do this, start at a level you feel comfortable with and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activity as your fitness improves.”
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