As personal wealth increases luxury, or seen to be luxury, items become more attainable and health has been proven to suffer. People are now living longer than ever before. However, I would suggest that this is not because populations are healthier, rather that medical and technological advances are keeping people alive longer. In other words, humans are now just sicker for longer.
The Vietnamese middle class is growing and with the introduction of McDonald’s, Starbucks, Burger King, KFC and Carl’s Junior, the the beginnings of a health versus wealth issue is being created. The more societies move away from a traditional diet, the unhealthier they become. A move away from farmed foods to store bought processed foodstuffs shares a trend with a rise in chronic diseases.
In 2004 almost 170,000 people died of cardiovascular diseases in Vietnam. Infectious and parasitic diseases were the second largest killer, with approximately 67,000 deaths. Cardiovascular diseases are the biggest cause of death by a long way and these diseases are largely preventable. When heart disease is mentioned, cholesterol is never far behind. Fast food is one of the biggest culprits of elevating total and LDL cholesterol levels.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) declares that “the prevalence of raised total cholesterol increased noticeably according to the income of the country. In low income countries around a quarter of adults had raised total cholesterol, in lower middle income countries this rose to around a third of the population for both sexes. In high income countries, over 50 percent of adults had raised total cholesterol; more than double the level of the low income countries.”
The WHO shows that the incidences of elevated total cholesterol are highest in western societies (Europe 54 percent and The Americas, 48 percent) with the Southeast Asian Region sitting at 29 percent. Where our health should be our true wealth it is apparent that with wealth, societies lose their health.
There are many influencing factors within this topic. Lets keep it simple and look at five foods that are available in Vietnam and can help lower cholesterol and regain health.
Contain a high amount of unsaturated fats, which help raise healthy HDL levels while lowering unhealthy LDL. These fats in almonds seem to impede the LDL cholesterol from blocking up your arteries by stopping them from oxidizing. One of the best snack foods available
Is high in monounsaturated fats, which like almonds aids to lower LDL and increase HDL. Olive Oil is rich in plant substances called phenolics. Phenolics make the blood less likely to clot and therefore clog up your blood vessels. Try to always have olive oil cold, as cooking can damage the beneficial substances
Research has shown that steamed asparagus may act to bind more bile acids, which means your liver needs to use more LDL cholesterol to make additional bile, taking the unhealthy substance out of the bloodstream. Only steam vegetables for a maximum of 4 minutes so that the nutrients are not too damaged
The soluble fibre in oatmeal forms a gel like substance that hinders cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Oats have the best source of soluble fibre of all the whole grains
Contain a substance called lycopene. Studies have shown that lycopene prevents LDL production. It also has been indicated that it helps to break down the LDL fats that are clogging arteries
Health really is wealth. We can always make more money, but if we lose our health it’s very hard to get it back. Think wisely when making food choices and avoid fast foods.