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A recent survey conducted by Jungle revealed that high blood pressure is the most common issue affecting South Africans, with nearly 40% of participants indicating that they, or one of their family members, had the condition. The number of individuals who are affected by other cardiovascular issues is also high. Still, only 50% of the respondents exercise regularly, and even fewer take steps to ensure good heart health.

With September designated as Heart Awareness Month by the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), Kershnee Kallee, Marketing Manager at Jungle, believes it’s imperative for consumers, who are not doing so already, to take the time to introduce some balance into their lives. “Finding a balance between good nutrition and other healthy habits can do wonders for one’s heart, which in turn can help individuals live longer lives.”

By way of demonstration, Kallee outlines some of the most interesting findings of the survey. “Over 50% of people stated that their choices of nutritional food depended mostly on convenience. Almost 70% said they did not take a multivitamin or supplement, and 49% have never had their heart checked. We also found that the most common snack items were crisps, and nearly a fifth of people made a habit of skipping breakfast. Clearly, there’s a lot of consumer education to be done.”

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of the HSFSA, emphasises that “poor nutrition and unhealthy eating habits are some of the core risk factors for heart disease and strokes”. Products such as Jungle Oats, which have the Heart Mark logo, mean that they are endorsed by the Foundation, therefore, meet the criteria for a heart-healthy product and can form a part of a healthy eating plan,” she adds.

In light of this, Kallee says that consumers should take the time to put their hearts first during this year’s Heart Awareness Month. Below she shares a few quick tips on how to do this:

1. Get into a regular exercise routine.

Even light exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart. So, walk the dog, take a stroll with friends – it all counts.

2. Keep a list of heart-friendly food choices close by.

Having a list like this nearby when it’s time for your monthly or weekly shop will always prove beneficial. If you’re not 100% sure of which foods to go for, look out for the Heart Mark (meaning it’s certified heart-healthy food by the Heart & Stroke Foundation in SA) on the packaging. You’ll find it on products like Jungle Oats and brown rice.

Stocking heart-healthy foods is a step in the right direction for creating a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. And being healthy does not have to be time-consuming. Jungle Instant Oats, for example, carries the heart mark and can be prepared in just minutes.

3. Go for regular checkups.

Knowing your blood pressure and being clued up on your cardiovascular health is vital. Check in with your GP to ensure your heart is in tip-top shape.

Kallee reiterates that heart health is the name of the game this September. “A combination of the right food and some simple lifestyle changes is just what every South African needs to help reduce the risk of heart-related problems,” she concludes.

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