Our community faces many challenges, but perhaps the most difficult one is maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Worryingly, it isn't just a problem for the older generation. A college located in Tower Hamlets is ranked 2nd on the scale of the highest prevalence of obesity for year six children in the country.
The old approach that many people usually use when 'dieting' is to skip a meal or resist eating certain foods to reduce our fat intake. However, this often leads to snacking on foods that aren't healthy for us. A growing field of research indicates that we can't tackle our fat intake in isolation. Instead, we must change our overall dietary intake.
It is not unusual for a Muslim's diet to consist of a lot of red meat, few vegetables, fruit and a lot of sugary drinks. All of which have been linked to the risk of heart disease.
Alternatively, the more 'balanced' approach to eating is the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet still consists of high fat, but it is from different sources; for example, plants and olive oil. The diet is made up from lots of vegetables, yoghurt, fruits and a variety of nuts and cheese. According to research, the Mediterranean diet puts a person at a lower risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome (issues that increase the likelihood of diabetes and heart disease) and a stroke.
Health professionals often talk about polyunsaturated fats. These are referred to as 'good' fats. Polyunsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts, all of which can help reduce the likelihood of acquiring type 2 diabetes. NHS Tower Hamlets released information illustrating that here the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is significantly greater than anywhere else in the London area. Moreover, it is thought that this is linked with the large proportion of Bangladeshis in the area. People should consume healthy portions of omega-3 fats (found in fish) to fight against the risk heart disease. Crucially, if you are diabetic then regularly consuming fish can help protect you against a heart attack.
To help you manage a healthier diet, below are three recommendations of how to swap harmful fats with more nutritional and 'good' fats:
Begin by eating poultry and fish instead of red meat. Opt for reduced-fat or lower fat versions of things like milk and cheese. By eating less red meat and full dairy products, you will reduce your intake of 'bad' saturated fats.
Only purchase liquid vegetable oils that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fays. These products will be available in most high street stores. Choose sunflower oil or olive oil instead of butter; these are a much healthier option.
Lastly, ensure that you consume enough food that is rich in omega three fat daily. The primary source of omega three fat is fish.
The simple process of just swapping bad fats with good ones is a great first step to a healthier diet and will significantly reduce your risk of many health related.