This old heart of mine

A fortnight ago I took advantage of dropping my daughter, at her job as a carer in Kennington, to go for a run along the river from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge and back, which I’d estimated would be about 8 miles in total

As I ran over the bridge and alongside the Tower of London I recalled how I’d taken part in the British Heart Foundation 10k events in the moat of the Tower. It was always held in May as part of series of events to raise money for the charity.

It wasn’t the most exciting of events, it has to be said. But a great place to say you had run, even if was slightly monotonous completing 10 laps of the dry moat.

Since lockdown started I have been one of those people who, despite running most days, have been piling on the pounds. Having taken a measurement of my waistline I found that I need to reduce it by 2 inches to get back to the maximum for a male. This realisation, that I was putting my health at risk, has forced me to start changing my diet and improving the quality of my exercise.

Passing the Tower my route then took me past the Old Billingsgate Fish Market. It occurred to me about the usual connection of these two buildings, a connection that probably only exists in my mind. Eating fish is good for your heart!!!!

I then began to wonder why it’s considered to be beneficial. And it’s not all fish that are on the “good for you” list. Researchers have found that some fish contain unhealthy levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Mercury is harmful to an unborn baby’s and a young child’s developing neurological system, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. And the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition believe that high-mercury fish may also be harmful to the adult heart.

PCBs are contaminates that gather in fish fat. They aren’t bad for your heart, but they can increase the risk of cancer.

So, which fish may be bad for you? (I doubt they are on your weekly shopping list….). But these are very high in mercury.

• King Mackerel

• Marlin

• Orange Roughy

• Shark

• Swordfish

• Tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico)

• Tuna (big eye)

And which fish are good for you? It’s recommended that we aim for 2 portions of oily fish each week. They contain omega-3 fatty acids which can keep your heart healthy. They reduce inflammation around the body that can damage blood vessels, therefore protecting against heart disease and strokes.

When your next in the supermarket pop some of these into your basket….

• Herring

• Mackerel

• Pilchards

• Sardines

• Salmon

• Sprats

• Trout

Next time you’re travelling over Tower Bridge give a thought to how you are helping to keep your heart healthy. And measure your waistline when you get home. And maybe go for a run….

Next time I’ll be writing about my progress to reducing my waistline….

If you want to do some further reading about fish here are two links:

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/fish-and-shellfish-nutrition/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/oily-fish

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