A banana a day keeps the heart doctor away. It’s World Heart Day


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September 29th marks a very important day around the world – it’s World Heart Day, a day dedicated to making a promise to do what we can, no matter who we are, to help reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia with more than 4.2 million Australians effected by the condition, with the disease causing more than 43,000 deaths in 2016 alone. Most alarming of all, is that in many cases, these deaths could have been prevented if small healthy lifestyle changes had been adopted.

So, this World Heart Day, it’s all about making a promise to yourself, to do what you can, to help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. It could be diet related, or a commitment to exercise more, or to even stop smoking – every small change helps to keep you healthier and reduce your own risk of developing heart disease.

If you need some inspiration, here are some easy lifestyle changes that will help to keep your heart healthier every day.

1. More fresh fruit and vegetables

The more fresh fruit and vegetables we consume, the higher our overall nutrient and antioxidant intake is, and the healthier are our cells. Fruits and vegetables like bananas, spinach, broccoli, sweet potato and cucumbers are all packed full of potassium and a diet rich in potassium is linked to lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of developing heart disease. At a minimum, aim to eat a couple of pieces of fruit and 2-3 servings of vegetables every single day.

2. Add in a handful of nuts

Nuts are a rich dietary source of essential fats and walnuts in particular are rich in omega 3 fat, which is particularly good for the heart. The key is to stop at just one handful and consuming a serve of nuts each day is linked to reduced heart disease risk, thanks to healthier arteries and better blood fat ratios.

3. Don’t forget the fibre

With a gradual reduction in carbohydrates, our fibre intake has taken a bit of a beating but dietary fibre plays an important role in regulating the fats in our blood. Soluble fibre in particular, which is found in oats, beans and fruits including apples and bananas, is known to help lower LDL cholesterol or the ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood stream. For this reason, getting your fibre by including wholegrains, legumes and fruit in your daily diet is an easy option to help improve heart health.

4. Keep your fats natural

When you are getting most of your dietary fat from good quality olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocado, and keeping your intake of processed fats from fried foods and snack foods low, you will be well on your way to promoting the right fat balance in the body! This naturally acts to reduce inflammation in the body which in turn lowers heart disease risk.

5. Seek out fish

Very few Aussies get enough long chain omega 3 fat – the type of fat known for its heart health benefits. While all fish is good for us, only salmon, fresh tuna and sardines contain relatively high amounts of omega 3 fats. For this reason, bumping up your intake of these types of fish is one of the easiest ways to increase your omega 3 intake and get the heart health benefits associated with a high intake of omega 3 rich fish.

Banana & Ricotta Pancakes

Serves 1 – per serve: 400 cals | 24g fat | 11g protein | 44g carbs | 2g fibre

Ingredients:

1 egg

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1 1/2 banana mashed (1/2 for serving)

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla essence

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey for serving

Preparation Method

1. Mix egg, ricotta cheese, banana, baking powder, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl.

2. Heat a small amount of the olive oil in a frypan and in 2 tbsp. Batches, spoon mixture into the pan.

3. Cook until mixture starts bubbling then flip.

4. After 1 2 minutes, serve with slices of banana and a drizzle of maple syrup/honey.

Susie is currently a brand ambassador for Australian Bananas. To learn more about the partnership, click here.

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