• Call: 01273-775-480

Tag Archives: blood pressure

Categories Heart disease, Hypertension, In the news

Chilli may be hot news for blood pressure?

Research carried out in China has demonstrated that rats fed capsaicin (the chemical that makes chillis hot) had more relaxed blood vessels and lower blood pressure than mice given a diet without capsaicin. The researchers suggest that eating chillis may be a promising lifestyle intervention for people with hypertension.

Until further research is done, people should not try substituting their blood pressure medication with chillis, but including them in the diet is beneficial for several reasons. Research in the laboratory has shown that capsaicin may be beneficial in reducing cancer rates, chillis are high in vitamin C and vitamin A. They help to ward off colds and flu by boosting the bug fighting properties of mucous membranes lining the nose and throat. Chillis have also been shown to reduce cholesterol and to balance blood sugar by modulating insulin response.

Why not try some of these dishes to boost immunity, help ward off cancer, balance blood sugar and have a positive effect on  blood pressure?

Chilli con carne by Jamie Oliver, taken from’ Jamie’s Ministry of Food’

Serves 6


  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 500g good-quality minced beef
  • 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 400g basmati rice
  • 1 x 500g tub of natural yoghurt
  • 1 x 230g tub of guacamole
  • 1 lime

Method: How to make good old chilli con carne

1. Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about the technique, just chop away until fine.

2. Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop.

3. Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat.

4. Add 2 lugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables.

5. Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.

7. Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes

8. Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon.

9. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan.

10. Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge.

11. Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in.

12. Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

13. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.

Serve with brown rice and a large green salad.

Vegetarian chilli, adapted from a recipe by the vegetarian society


For the sauce

  • 175g/6oz green lentils
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 red and 1 green pepper, stalk and seeds removed, and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml/½ pint vegetable stock (make with bouillon powder)
  • 100g/4oz frozen peas
  • 3 tbsp vegetarian pesto
  • 175g/6oz mushrooms, wiped and quartered
  • 1 courgette, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and cooked

Preparation method

  1. Place the green lentils in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. (Alternatively, buy a tin of pre soaked lentils.) Drain.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic together with the chilli and cumin, until the onions are softening.
  3. Add the peppers, carrots and drained green lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. Add the tomatoes, purée, stock, peas and pesto, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Add the mushrooms and courgettes and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  4. Season to taste.
  5. Add the cooked kidney beans and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  6. Serve with cooked brown rice and a large green salad.
Categories In the news, Latest Research

Packed junk food?

Are packed lunches healthy? They certainly can be, but research from Leeds University has suggested that only 1% children’s lunchboxes currently meet the nutritional standards that school dinners have to meet. The research, commissioned by the Government, has found that parents are choosing foods high in saturated fat, salt and sugar to put in children’s lunchboxes, placing them at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. These anti-nutrients are now limited in school dinners, thanks largely to Jamie Oliver’s campaigns.

Although Ofsted has recommended a policy on packed lunches, there is no legislative imperative for them to comply with the nutritional standards that are applied to school dinners. Many parents report that their children will not eat the healthy choices that they offer in lunchboxes and, as a result, only one in five packed lunches contained any salad or vegetables and half included a piece of fruit.

Packed lunches can be a highly nutritious alternative to school dinners. Much can be done to improve their nutrient status with some ingenious preparation of fruit and vegetables and by adding popular protein foods for brain development and growth. Protein can be included from homemade chicken nuggets, mini burgers or grilled tofu saved from last night’s dinner. Although nuts are discouraged from schools, cheese strings (natural cheese, like mozzarella that has been cured into an elastic strip) or individual cheese portions can boost the protein content of a lunchbox. Encourage children to eat fruit and salad with cheese strings to provide potassium to balance their salt intake.

Sandwiches can be stuffed with tuna, egg or cheese with tomatoes, cucumber or lettuce can boost the vitamin and mineral content – start with tiny amounts to allow children to get used to the look, taste and texture and increase slowly.

Some children will enjoy cherry tomatoes, olives, lettuce, slices of pepper, cucumber and carrots in their lunchboxes, alongside apples, pears, bananas and oranges. Inflatable fruit bags can prevent bruising of fruit on the way to school and allow for easy identification in the snack tray.

Reluctant children may need more encouragement to eat their fruit and veg; have fun with preparation and presentation. Natalie Savona suggests turning mangoes into hedgehogs, oranges into dragons and skewering red and white grapes onto sticks. For dessert, if fruit does not satisfy alone, strawberries can be half dipped in melted chocolate the night before and allowed to set overnight.

Nutritious food can improve children’s health and happinness. It can also enhance attention, learning, behaviour and physical ability. By providing children who take a packed lunch to school with high quality protein, fruit and vegetables and omitting foods high in saturated fat and sugar, these benefits may be seen in the classroom. If healthy lunchboxes become the norm, children will be happy to eat the same nutritious food as their peers.

To find out more about Cardiovascular / Heart Health click here.  To find out more about health tests for Cardiovascular disease /Heart Health click here

To find out more about Diabetes click here. To find out more about health tests for Diabetes click here

Chicken Nuggets

Many children will eat chunks or strips of chicken breast or boneless chicken thigh that have been baked in a moderately hot oven (200°C/400°F/Gas 6) for 15 mins or until the meat is cooked through. Those children that are partial to a golden crisp coating may enjoy Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce’s gluten free battered nuggets:


4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced into strips (about 4 strips each)

200g (7oz) instant pre-cooked polenta flour

210ml (7floz) water

4 eggs, beaten

2 tsp onion salt or sea salt

4 tbspn sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Mix together all the batter ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Drop the chicken pieces (one at a time) into the batter and turn over to coat evenly. Place on the baking tray and cook for 15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through (cut a piece in half and check that the flesh and juices are not pink).

Lamb Burgers


500g (1lb 2oz) lamb mince

1 very small red onion, finely chopped

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

1 tsp sea salt

black pepper

2 tbspn finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

a little coconut oil, for frying

Mix together all the ingredients until well combined. Roll into 6-8 balls (or more  for mini burgers) and flatten

Grill or fry in a little coconut oil for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway, until both sides are coloured and the burgers are cooked through.                                                                   

 These recipes are taken from ‘Smart Food for Smart Kids’ by Patrick Holford and Fiona McDonald Joyce.

To make a mango hedgehog, slice down each side of a mango from top to bottom, close to the stone, so you have two ‘almost halves’ with a middle slice clinging to the stone (you may find that the children fight over who gets this bit!). Cut across the flesh of each mango half in parallel lines, carefully so as not to cut through the skin. Now cut across these lines in the same way, so you have criss-crossed flesh with the skin intact. Turn the skin in on itself so you have a mound of spikes to decorate with raisins for eyes and a nose.

 To make an orange dragon, lay an orange on a board with the stalk and base facing to the sides. Using a sharp knife, cut the orange asross the segments into generous rounds. Then, take a slice and at a point between two segments, carefully cut through the skin and as far as the centre of the slice. Carefully prise open the slice, seperating the little triangular segments: you end up with a flat line of orange skin with a series of little triangles poking out from it – the dragon fins. Repeat with the other slices. This is much easier to do than to describe in words – so give it a go and you’ll find your children will be keener to eat the oranges than if they’d had to peel them in the usual way.

These ideas are taken from ‘Wonderfoods for kids’ by Natalie Savona



Categories Latest Research

“Energy Drinks” Potentially Harmful to Patients With Cardiovascular Disease

Consumption of energy drinks increases blood pressure and heart rate, and should therefore be avoided by people with hypertension or heart disease, according to results of a small prospective study.

These effects are probably seen because the beverages  which are  marketed to enhance cognitive function and stamina, usually contain caffeine, the amino acid taurine and  sugars.

The researchers found that “Increases in blood pressure and heart rate of the magnitude observed in our study could be significant in persons with known cardiovascular disease,”  and that “Young individuals with undiagnosed, premature cardiovascular disease could also be at risk”

This study was published in the April issue of The Annals of Pharmacotherapy.