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Diet (Part 2)

Salt, fat and sugars all affect the body and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dr Ditte Hobbs explains more.
The amount of dietary salt consumed is an important determinant of blood pressure levels and overall cardiovascular risk. So in the UK, it’s recommended that we should consume no more than 6 grammes of salt a day. And this is what is equates to in this vial here. So there are a number of different fruits that have different levels of salt in them. So this is what’s represented by these vials here. So you can see there are different amounts of salt in here. And this one here, which is the smallest amount, equates to how much there is in one 30-gramme portion of crisps, which are shown here.
But interestingly, and a lot of people aren’t aware of this, that’s actually just as much salt in a portion of corn flakes, which is shown in the bowl here. Two slices of bread contain approximately 1 gramme of salt, which is represented by the vial here. And most processed foods, such as the pre-prepared or fresh tortellini or canned soup contain about 1.6 grammes of salt for half a tin or half a pack, which is represented by this vial here. It’s estimated that decreasing dietary salt intake from the current global levels of 9 to 12 grammes per day to the recommended 6 per day could have a major impact on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
The Department of Health Responsibility Deal is a pledge that is subscribed to by industry to reduce the salt content of common foods. All fats are high in calories and contain as much as twofold more kilocalories as the equivalent amount of protein and carbohydrate. So this is important to bear in mind if you’re watching your weight. However, in relation to heart health it’s important to consider the type of fat you’re eating. Butter, lard, ghee, palm oil, and coconut oil are all high in saturated fat. And too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which can increase risk of coronary heart disease.
It’s therefore commended where possible to replace saturated fat with monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, grape seed oil, almonds, unsalted cashews, avocado, as well as polyunsaturated fat, such as sunflower oil, vegetable oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and oily fish, which can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines are rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing fat buildup in the arteries. Therefore, it’s recommended that we eat two portions of 140 grammes of fish per week, one of which should be oily. It’s also recommended to avoid trans fats.
Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in dairy foods and meat, but also can be produced artificially during hydrogenation of vegetable oils. Such industrialised trans fats are found in biscuits, cakes, pastries, and lots of deep fried foods. And they have a similar effect of saturated fat as they can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood. Evidence shows that energy-dense diets, such as those that are high in sugar and fat can contribute to excess calorie intake, which if sustained leads to weight gain and obesity. If an individual is overweight or obese, they are more prone to a range of serious health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, as well as diabetes.
A report published by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition in June 2014 evaluated all scientific evidence in relation to carbohydrates and cardiovascular disease. The report suggests that people should follow a dietary pattern that is based in carbohydrates from whole grains, pulses, potatoes, vegetables, and fruits, but limiting the amount from table sugar and rich sources of fruit sugars, such as preserves, spreads, fruit juice, confectionery, biscuits, and buns. The report also provides evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages should be consumed in minimal amounts. Overall, it’s recommended that people should follow a well-balanced diet that contains plenty of fruit and vegetables. Starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, and pasta. And choose whole grain varieties whenever possible.
It’s also important to incorporate lean meat, oily fish, beans, and other non-dairy sources of protein. Finally, consume only a small amount of foods and drinks high in saturated fat and/or sugar.

In this video, Dr Ditte Hobbs continues looking at the relationship between diet and cardiovascular disease by highlighting how salt, fat and sugars affect the body.

You can download the Week 4 supplement, which contains additional images and descriptions to help you understand the topics covered in this video.

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Heart Health: A Beginner's Guide to Cardiovascular Disease

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