Sat | Dec 3, 2016

See food as medicine - nutritionist

Published:Wednesday | February 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Eat fruits and vegetables, especially beetroot, carrot, spinach, and parsley

The Heart Foundation of Jamaica (HFJ) is encouraging Jamaicans to recognise the medicinal value of food and use it to their advantage.

Nutritionist at the HFJ, Francis Mahfood, said that people are consuming too much food and are eating the wrong things, urging that more emphasis should be placed on nutrition.

"The most important foods to include in your diet are fruits and vegetables. They are plant-based and high in antioxidants and fighter nutrients. These are the nutrients that help to fight diseases such as cancer, stroke, diabetes, gout, diverticulitis and many others. We have to start thinking of food as medicine," she said.

According to Mahfood, the overconsumption of simple calories is leading to obesity, which is associated with more than 50 diseases, including heart disease, which is the nation's number one killer.

"When we eat foods in a simple form, like sugar, our bodies are not being fed with the proper nutrients, so we are not satisfied and we tend to eat more and more," she said.

She noted that, ideally, a good meal should consist of vegetables on half of a nine-inch plate, a quarter protein and a quarter starch.

"If you were to eat a bowl of vegetables and a serving of fruit, your body is more satisfied. You've fed it with high-quality calories so it's not just about the quantity, it's also about the quality," she added.

Mahfood said the Heart Foundation places emphasis on nutrition and getting patients to an ideal body weight.

"It would be ideal if every clinic and every doctor's office had a nutritionist on staff so that when a patient is diagnosed with, for example obesity, hypertension, or diabetes, they are not only given a prescription for medication but also a prescription for healthy eating," she said.

The Heart Foundation is celebrating Heart Month in February under the theme: 'Sugar, are you too sweet? Healthy eating for a healthy heart.'