Heart Health

Updated 26 September 2013

130 heart attacks every day in SA

In fact, five people have a heart attack every hour in this country. Can you afford to ignore these stats?

Cardiovascular disease awareness is on the map this month as the world gears up to celebrate World Heart Day on 29 September.

In South Africa specifically, statistics show that about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur daily. This means that 10 people suffer a stroke and five people have a heart attack every hour.*

“Consumers need to realise that they have the ability to change their lifestyles and diets to lower their risk of heart disease,” says Naazneen Khan, nutrition, health and wellness manager at Nestlé South Africa.

Here’s a breakdown of what factors you can change, and what factors you cannot change:

What you can change

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Overweight
  • Poor diet
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insufficient activity
  • Depression, social isolation and a lack of social interaction
  • Excessive alcohol intake

What you can’t change

  • Family history of CVD and ethnicity
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Body shape (‘Apple’ shape has a higher risk than ‘Pear’ shape)

While you cannot change factors such as your age, gender, ethnicity, body shape and family history of cardiovascular disease (CVD), you can change your lifestyle and your diet.

Nestle’s 2012 Rainbow Nation Health Monitor study revealed despite a less than perfect attitude to nutrition, health and wellness, 91% of South Africans feel alive and energetic – even though 58% get very little or no exercise. 

“To prevent cardiovascular disease, live a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical exercise and healthy eating. Lower your risk of developing heart disease by adopting a low fat diet and educating yourself on which fats are healthy and which ones should be consumed in moderation,” says Khan.

The facts about fat

Here are some of Naazneen’s top tips for adopting a low fat eating plan:

  • Not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fat is considered ‘healthy’ fat (such as olive and canola oils, nuts, avocados, omega 3).
  • Saturated and trans fat are considered to be unhealthy fats (such as butter, cheese and cream). Intake should be limited.
  • The recommended dietary guidelines suggest that 20 to 30% of your total energy should come from fat, with less than 10% of energy from saturated fat.
  • Don’t assume that all foods displaying the word ‘Light’ are low in fat or kilojoules/calories. The term ‘Light’ or ‘Lite’ on a food label may also mean the food is light in fat, light in salt, light in colour, or even light in taste.
  • 5g fat is equal to one teaspoon of fat (picture a teaspoon of butter). If a food says it has 30g fat per serving, that’s equivalent to eating about six teaspoons of butter. That’s a lot of fat in one serving, so look for a lower fat version. 
  • 5g sugar is equal to one teaspoon of sugar. If a can of soft drink has 40g sugar it's like eating eight teaspoons of sugar. Consider another type of drink or a diet soft drink if you are trying to watch your kilojoule/calorie intake. Water is always the best!

For more helpful tips on how to adopt a healthy diet, visit the Nutrition, Health & Wellness tab on Nestlé’s website www.nestle.co.za/nhw. You’ll also find useful tools such as BMI (Body Mass Index) and Waist-Hip Ratio calculators. Test your nutrition, health and wellness knowledge with the WelNes IQ tool at www.welnesiq.org.

Issued by Natalie Bosman, Atmosphere Communications on behalf of Nestlé


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.