Nutrition News & Views

What is a Chronic Disease?

taking blood pressure

The diseases of the western world may be well known to you, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. The point about what makes them chronic is the continuous care and medical management required to prevent a negative outcome such as a heart attack, stroke, amputation or even sudden death.

The other aspect of these diseases in the western world are that they are dependent on a few things such as changing your eating behaviour, improving your exercise levels but most importantly, the health benefit is found in what you eat… that is, your current diet.

The best thing about these diseases is that they are preventable and a reduction in risk of a stroke or heart attack is real when your diet is improved, and you are adjusting your levels of activity to suit your lifestyle and your ability at the time.

In my practice I work with you and your general practitioners’ goals for your best outcome in chronic disease care. We work together to create a meal plan that brings results to your monitoring measures eg: your bloods but also your ability to do more and eat much more creatively than you do now.

So what diet is the best fit for chronic disease?

You mean…. there is one? You say?

Well in my view the one that works best and with few problems in applying the diet is the Mediterranean diet. So that includes great food from Italy, Greece, Spain, Morocco, Turkey and the Balkans.

What does the Mediterranean diet look like?

It has one of the best varieties of choice in seafood and meat consumption in the world, the best fruit and vegetable consumption for anti- inflammatory and protective effects of fruit and vegetables and the diet with the best combination of healthy fats in the diet. Despite the paradox that a lot of the European people who consume the diet have high levels of obesity, they also have the lowest deaths related to chronic disease, ie: heart disease and stroke.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, a healthy weight for you must be right on the money when comparing your diet and what you do?

My effort for your diet is to match what you eat to as much of what is acceptable to you and applicable from the variety of the Mediterranean diet, where possible.

So what is best? Olive oil or Canola Oil?

I love both oils. Canola oil is often home grown in Australia and is the most easily and affordable accessed edible oil in the world. It is associated with the best reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides and improvements in protective factors of cholesterol such as high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Olive oil is equivalent in function but the effect on Cholesterol lowering is not as strong. The seven country study is one study that discovered that canola oil can actually be much more effective in lowering cholesterol than olive oil.

So how do I use these oils?

By choice, I prefer to use Canola oil in baking, frying and shallow frying. It is a heat stable oil and is a cost effective means of using a large amount of oil without feeling the guilts on using an expensive oil.

In contrast I use my olive oils, preferably Australian sourced olive oil in my salads, breads, and antipasto. I prefer the flavour by choice in my salads and the heat stability is a lot more fragile than canola oil.

I see the benefit in what it has to offer. Where canola oil lacks a flavour, olive oil surpasses in flavour by miles.

Natalia Knezevic is an Accredited Practising Dietitian in Orange, New South Wales, providing flexible and achievable nutrition solutions.