Research published this month in the journal Stroke has found that people who eat a diet high in B vitamins are less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. A study in Japan analysed dietary questionnaires completed by more than 23,000 men and women. During an average 14 years of follow-up, 986 of the respondents died from stroke, 424 died from heart disease and 2,087 died from cardiovascular related disease.
The study found that women who ate more foods with the B vitamins folate and B6 were less likely to die from stroke or heart disease and men who ate more of these vitamins were less likely to die of heart failure.
The researchers suggest that folate and vitamin B6 may help to protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine in the blood. This amino acid is produced in the body as a by-product of other chemical reactions; high levels can cause damage to the body. With adequate B vitamins, homocysteine can be converted into useful antioxidants, but without the B vitamins, homocysteine levels will rise. In addition to cardiovascular disease and stroke, high homocysteine levels are associated with cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Homocysteine levels can be checked at home. To order a test to find out what your levels are Click Here.
The researcher Dr Hiroyasu Iso suggests that people should increase their intake of vitamin B6 and folate. To achieve this, enjoy more spinach, watercress, wheatgerm, bananas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, brown rice, avocado, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, nuts and seeds.
Why not try this recipe from Antony Worral Thompson?
For the balti sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2cm/¾in piece ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3 onions, chopped
250ml/8¾fl oz water
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 cardamoms, broken slightly open
1½ tsp salt
For the vegetables
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped
2cm/¾in piece ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tomatoes, chopped
200g/7¼oz cauliflower florets
250g/8¾oz tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp salt
250g/8¾oz baby spinach leaves
2-3 fresh green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the ginger and garlic and stir.
2. Add the onions and stir-fry for five minutes until they are translucent.
3. Add the water and bring to the boil.
4. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, cover and simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the bay leaves and cardamom pods, and liquidise the rest in a blender.
6. Heat the oil in a large wok then add the onions and fry gently until they begin to turn brown.
7. Add the ginger and garlic, stir well, and cook for one minute.
8. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, chickpeas, salt and enough balti sauce to coat all the vegetables (4-6 ladles of sauce).
9. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer until the cauliflower is just tender.
10. Add the green chillies and spinach and stir-fry for three more minutes until the spinach has wilted down.
11. Stir in the coriander.
12. Just before serving, sprinkle the garam masala on top.
13. Serve with brown rice, naan bread or chapatis.