Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk
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One hardly needs to be educated about the benefits of eating fruit. Fruit is jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, all of which nourish the body and help to keep chronic disease at bay. However, some types of fruit are put through processes that strip them of their essential goodness.
In fact, the way dried fruit is processed can even raise your risk of heart disease – the leading cause of death globally.
Holland and Barrett explains: “Many dried fruits are made more appealing, or sweet by being coated with sugar or syrup before going through the drying process.”
According to the health body, this process is known as “candied” fruit.
“Added sugar, as we’re sure you’ll know, isn’t the best option when eating a balanced diet. In some severe cases it may increase the risk of obesity or heart disease,” it warns.
It is worth noting that dried fruit is not intrinsically bad but the key to getting the most nutritional benefit from dried fruit is choosing the right type.
Most traditional dried fruits are made by removing the water from the fresh fruit. The result is simply a dried version of fresh fruit, with no extra sugar or other ingredients added.
According to the NHS, a 30g portion of dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs, counts as one of your five A Day.
But, as the health body notes, dried fruit should be eaten at mealtimes, not as a between-meal snack, to reduce the impact on teeth.
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Heart disease – general tips to reduce your risk
Heart disease is a leading cause of death, but it’s not inevitable.
While you can’t change some risk factors — such as family history, sex or age — there are plenty of ways you can reduce your risk of heart disease.
You can prevent heart disease by following a heart-healthy lifestyle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best things you can do for your heart is to stop smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
The health body explains: “Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in your blood, which increases your blood pressure and heart rate because your heart has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to your body and brain.”
Fortunately, as it explains, your risk of heart disease starts to drop in as little as a day after quitting.
“After a year without cigarettes, your risk of heart disease drops to about half that of a smoker.”
According to research, engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity leisure activity per week also slashes heart disease risk.
Heart disease – symptoms to spot
According to the NHS, the most common symptoms of heart disease are chest pain (angina) and breathlessness.
“But some people may not have any symptoms before they’re diagnosed,” notes the health body.
If your arteries become completely blocked, it can cause a heart attack (myocardial infarction).
“Although symptoms can vary, the discomfort or pain of a heart attack is usually similar to that of angina,” adds the NHS.
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