This Morning: Dr Chris discusses heart disease

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Nutritionist Pixie Turner is championing green foods that can provide numerous benefits, from boosting energy levels to minimising heart disease and enhancing immunity. “Spinach is a good source of folate,” Turner pointed out, adding that a deficiency in this nutrient can lead to folate deficiency anaemia. This condition “can leave you feeling tired and lacking energy”, she explained.

“The latest National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) shows that most people in the UK do not get enough folate,” Turner emphasised. “So, maybe, we can use a little more spinach in life!”

A folate deficiency anaemia may show up as the following (as listed by Johns Hopkins Medicine):

  • Pale skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Being grouchy (irritable)
  • Lack of energy or tiring easily
  • Diarrhoea
  • Smooth and tender tongue.

Women who would like to conceive must be overly cautious about a folate deficiency.

“Folate-deficiency anaemia during pregnancy may cause a neural tube defect,” Johns Hopkins Medicine stated.

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“This is when the brain or spinal cord doesn’t develop normally. It can cause death before or soon after birth.”

To boost immunity, the notable vitamin C might come to mind, but it’s not only found in citrus fruits, such as an orange.

“We tend to associate vitamin C with fruit, but one serving of kale has your entire daily intake of vitamin C,” said Turner.

“Just a big handful, or around 80g, of kale and you’re getting all the wonderful benefits of vitamin C like wound healing, and for healthy skin, blood vessels, and cartilage,” Turner added.

Turner explained vitamin C can’t be stored in your body, so you need to replenish your vitamin C intake daily.

The nutritionist highlighted a meta-analysis from 2016 that showed that consuming green, leafy vegetables can reduce the incidence of heart disease.

“Data shows that heart disease is the second leading cause of death in the UK for women, and number one for men,” Turner stated.

“While leafy greens aren’t going to prevent heart disease on their own, they can be an important component of a pattern of eating that can help reduce your risk.”

Heart disease

The NHS explained heart disease occurs when the blood supply to the heart is restricted by narrowed and furred-up arteries.

The main symptoms of heart disease include:

  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain throughout the body
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling sick (nausea).

One of the best ways to prevent heart disease is to eat “a healthy, balanced diet”.

It’s also critical to be a non-smoker, control blood cholesterol and glucose, and be physically active.

Turner added: “Greens, whether it’s kale, spinach, or cavolo nero, are all great ways of getting enough beta-carotene (vitamin A).”

Vitamin A is said to be important for:

  • Skin health
  • Eye health
  • Immune system.

“We’ve all heard the story of eating carrots helping you see in the dark, and while that’s not quite true, beta-carotene is good for your eyes,” Turner stated.

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