It’s a hard fact to swallow, but the reality is people with spinal cord injuries face a host of secondary health complications – cardiovascular disease (CVD) being the most serious. CVD is the leading cause of death for people with spinal cord injuries. It is well documented that people who have sustained SCI’s tend to have reduced HDL (good cholesterol) levels and increased LDL (bad cholesterol) and triglyceride levels, all of which contribute to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it is critical to understand the role nutrition can play in controlling, preventing and treating CVD.
4 Easy Steps to help prevent CVD from developing:
1. Increase your fibre intake.
Fibre, found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes binds to cholesterol/fat in the intestines and helps eliminate it in our waste.
2. Increasing your intake of antioxidants.
Antioxidants, such as selenium, vitamins E, C & A, found in foods like asparagus , dark berries, citrus fruits, yellow & orange vegetables (eg. sweet potato) and sunflower seeds respectively, protect arteries from free radical damage.
Free radicals are unstable, reactive molecules that attack and damage tissue, particularly arteries. This in turn can lead to plaque build-up and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Antioxidants act to neutralize these damaging free radicals.
3. Eliminate trans fat in your diet.
Trans fat (aka hydrogenated oil and partially hydrogenated oil) are unnatural, man-mad fats created to increase the shelf-life of food. These fake fats can cause major clogging of your arteries.
Trans fat is known to increase blood levels of LDL, while lowering levels of HDL. Trans fat can also interfere with your body’s use of the beneficial omega-3 fats.
Avoid all fast and junk food as these tend to be loaded with this unhealthy fat.
4. Reduce/eliminate your consumption of refined sugar.
High blood sugar levels can not only contribute to
increased LDL and triglyceride levels, but also cause collagen damage in your arteries.
This delicious Curry Quinoa recipe combines all of the above recommendations –and more! For those of you not familiar, quinoa is a protein-rich seed, that’s incredibly easy to cook and acts as a great substitute for rice and pasta. This super seed contains a good dose of fibre and other important heart healthy nutrients such as copper and manganese, which serve as co-factors to a very powerful antioxidant. Quinoa is also a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps to dilate arteries, inhibit platelete aggregation and blood clot formation, as well as reduce the size of any arterial blockages.
Moreover, the rich-yellow spice turmeric used in this recipe is a potent antioxidant and has powerful cholesterol-lowering, triglyceride-lowering and anti-inflammatory properties. So I encourage you to try something new and eat your way to a healthy heart!