5 Easy ways to boost your immune system

COVID-19 has created a certain level of worry about our health and our quest for well-being is more important than ever before. Now really is the time to take action and make positive lifestyle changes. “Let food be thy medicine!” Hippocrates was right, food can provide us with essential building blocks to health and vitality and more importantly, can keep our immune system in fighting shape.


Our gut health is a critical component of overall health and a marker for the state of the immune system. The stomach essentially performs the task of separating the inside of our body from the outside world. It acts as a filter by removing toxins and waste from the body and allowing nutrients through. The highest and densest microbe population in your body can be found in your gut, where it plays a critical role in digestion, weight regulation and immune system function.

Building a healthy gut bacterium and avoiding foods that could damage the gut are just some ways you can support your immune system function.  If the gut is damaged in any way (for example leaky gut syndrome), your immune system spends much of its time and energy fighting the toxins that leak through your gut into your bloodstream.

So, how do you support your gut?

  • Eat fermented foods in order to get a wide variety of probiotics such as Kombucha, Kimchi and sauerkraut which provide an array of good bacteria
  • Take a prebiotic supplement or find foods that contain prebiotics that support the good bacteria as they are the precursor for good bacteria
  • Eat lots of fibre. Animal-based foods contain no fibre, but plant-based foods are loaded with it. Make sure you are getting a wide variety of plant-based foods, including whole grains, a wide range of fruit and vegetables, certain plant-based meats (like our range of meat alternatives) that are usually high in fibre and are pesticide-free.
  • Avoid fruit and vegetables which have been sprayed with pesticides and chemicals. One of the most popular herbicides sprayed on crops contains the chemical, Glyphosate, which disrupts the gut wall which then allows bacteria to pass through the gut lining. This affects the functioning of the immune system. Try to buy organic wherever possible.
  • Limit intake of highly processed foods and animal products. Animals reared for human consumption contain the very chemicals that damage the stomach lining. The primary food source for these animals is genetically modified corn and soy which has usually been sprayed with herbicides containing glyphosate. The glyphosate accumulates in the animal’s body, which we then consume.


There are literally hundreds of natural herbs and vitamin supplements on the market and it can be confusing to decide which ones to buy. While there are no magic pills you can take to prevent a virus or a cold, there are some simple ones you can add to your everyday diet to give you a fighting chance.

  • Vitamin C: Can be taken as a supplement or found in high levels in peppers, guavas, oranges, strawberries and broccoli.
  • Vitamin D: A few minutes in the sunshine can boost your Vitamin D levels or take a supplement. A blood test will show your Vitamin D levels.
  • Zinc, Echinacea, Ashwagandha: All support immune system function and are our go-to’s when we’re feeling a little run down.
  • Garlic, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, and turmeric: Can be added to your cooking to boost immunity and reduce inflammation in the body.


 Although you may be tempted to indulge in a little wine out of boredom, stress or even to celebrate being at home with your family or partner (especially now that alcohol is once again for sale in the shops), try to avoid excessive consumption. In fact, we recommend cutting it out altogether. Alcohol disrupts the gut barrier, allowing more bacteria to pass into the blood and reduces the number and function of macrophages, T and C cells – all of which are crucial to a well-functioning immune system.



When “stressed out” or anxious, your body produces stress hormones, which can suppress your immune system. So, in this incredibly challenging time for the human race, make sure you spend some time on some activities that minimize stress – doing a puzzle, practising mindfulness and breathing exercises, give meditation a go, do yoga in your bedroom, take an exercise class, get into your garden, or start cooking. Whatever makes you feel relaxed and happy—do more of that!

In a study conducted by Joe Dispenza and his team, average IgA levels (an antibody protein that forms part of your immune system) went up by 49.5% on average when study participants elevated their emotional state by practising love, joy, gratitude and inspiration for 10 minutes, three times a day.


Sleep. To. Feel. Unbelievable.  Sleep is a wonderful immune booster and let’s face it, a good REM sleep not only feels good, but it also grounds you by giving both your body and your mind the rest it needs to mentally, physically and emotionally stave off whatever comes your way. Studies have shown huge benefits to the immune system and an increased number of T-cells (immune cells which protect the body from cancer cells and other pathogens) when getting your full sleep quota.


The Big Fry Burger is here!

We are so excited to announce the launch of our brand new flagship burger, The Big Fry Burger!

We’ve been carefully crafting this burger for the past few years to ensure it met our extremely high standards. As soon as we tasted it we knew it was special, but we wanted it to be more than that. We wanted this new burger to blow everyone away, even the biggest meat-lovers in the world. We had to go make sure it was incredible and we believe we have.

My dad, Wally Fry started Fry’s back in 1991. He met my mom Debbie, a passionate vegetarian and his life took a new turn. My mom inspired him with her healthy diet and outlook on food. The penny really dropped when he was contracted to build a piggery. He was proud of his work and was called back one day to do an inspection. He was horrified at what his handiwork had created for the pigs. His heart broke when he saw how they were treated and Wally decided to stop eating meat for good. He was very excited about his new lifestyle, but he grew tired of the lack of options available to him. By the time he had been vegetarian for a few months, he couldn’t even look at another spinach and feta pie.

He decided that he wanted to make food that looked and tasted like meat so that people like him could still eat all their favourite meals. His mission for crafting vegan food that tastes like meat started 30 years ago, but we have come closest to achieving this mission today. Our new Big Fry Burger looks, sizzles and tastes so much like a ground beef burger that some meat-eaters can’t even tell it apart from a beef burger.

Right from the start, our mission at Fry’s has been a moral one, and to this day nothing has changed. We still measure our success based on how many animals we save every year. We know how daunting change can be, which is why we always encourage you to create positive change at your own pace. Even small changes can make a huge difference. By swapping out one beef burger with a plant-based burger like The Big Fry Burger just once a week, you would save an average of 15-20 cows per year.

We don’t just want to make food that mimics meat though. We believe in so much more than that. We were determined to make a burger that not only tasted amazing but was also better for people’s health and the planet.

As a family, we take our health very seriously and we’re very fortunate to have a mother who instilled great eating habits in us from a young age. Our family still eats all the Fry’s products today and our children are our top (and most fussy) taste testers. This is why it’s a huge priority for us to make sure that our food is nutritious. The Big Fry Burger has 20g protein per 112g patty and it’s naturally cholesterol-free!  You could lower your risk of heart disease by up to 24% just by swapping meat burgers for plant-based burgers like The Big Fry Burger. It also has 4g of fat per 100g which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. All our products are made with non-GM ingredients and The Big Fry Burger is no exception. Recent studies show that some GM foods can toxically affect several organs and systems.

We’ve always been passionate about the environment and keeping our oceans clean, so you can imagine our heartbreak when we watched our part of Australia go up in smoke in the recent bush fires.  Scientists have stated that there’s no doubt that man-made global warming played a significant role in these devastating fires and animal agriculture has been responsible for 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Eating a plant-based burger like The Big Fry Burger instead of a meat burger just once a week is the easiest way to halve your greenhouse gas emissions and by making the swap you also save 5530 litres of water, which equates to a 7 min shower every day for 50 days. This burger isn’t only super tasty, it’s also the easiest way to help fight against climate change.

As nature lovers, we are also incredibly upset by the huge amount of litter and waste that lands up in our beautiful oceans. This launch was a huge step forward for us from a packaging point of view. This is our first 100% recyclable pack! Our packaging is a huge priority for us at the moment. We are hoping to have plastic-free packaging in the next few years and we are working day in and day out to achieve that goal.

We hope you love the Big Fry Burger as much as we do.

Love Tammy Fry


Want to find out more? Have a look at our Big Fry Burger info page here

Want to try our Big Fry Burgers? Find out where you can buy them here


Diabetes Month with Fry’s spotlight on Omega 3s

Veganism is becoming one of the fastest-growing lifestyle choices. As it continues to rise, larger supermarkets are stocking more vegan products while restaurants and cafés are updating their menus with more plant-based options.

The reasons people choose to follow a vegan lifestyle vary from the concern about animal welfare and the planet, to the proven health benefits. In fact, there are more and more top athletes from around the world who are punting the health benefits of eating more plants. (Pro tip: the documentary The Game Changers on Netflix is definitely worth a watch).

We are passionate about plant-based living. From wanting to leave this planet in a better state, to remaining healthy and energetic so that we can see our little ones grow up, it is our mission to make it easier to ‘go vegan’ for as many people as possible!

As with any new movement that has just hit the mainstream, Veganism is often met with skepticism. While it is becoming more accepted that a plant-based diet has a host of positive health benefits, such as increased energy, better sleep, clearer skin and improved sports recovery time, it’s worthwhile exploring more complex and serious conditions like diabetes – especially this month which is World Diabetes Month (World Diabetes Day is the 14th of November).

So, the question is, can following a healthy vegan diet help to manage diabetes as well as improve one’s condition?   

Vegan diets are often lower in saturated fat, are naturally cholesterol-free, higher in fibre and other protective substances like antioxidants, which are all important to include in one’s diet should you have lifelong management disease like diabetes.  

One of the more controversial nutrients in the vegan debate are omega 3s. Omega 3s offer cardiovascular protection, prevent cognitive decline and depression, and improve eye health, amongst others. However, perhaps less studied, are the effects of omega 3s in the treatment of diabetes.

A new study from England found that women who ate more omega 3s have a healthier mix of gut bacteria. These bacteria have been found to reduce the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The study looked at the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and the composition of the gut microbiome. High levels of omega-3 in the blood were correlated with higher levels of a compound called N-carbamylglutamate (NCG) – a compound that potentially reduces oxidative stress in the gut. The researchers believe that the omega-3 present in the gut induces bacteria to produce this substance.  

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance. Free radicals can cause large-chain chemical reactions in the body; these reactions are called ‘oxidation’. Oxidative stress can cause damage to many of tissues, which can lead to a number of diseases over time, and can cause the development of insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, β-cell dysfunction and Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, another study found that omega 3s raise levels of a hormone called adiponectin, which increases insulin sensitivity. Researchers felt this might help prevent or control Type 2 diabetes.

Granted, these two studies mainly concentrated on fish oil supplements thus posing the question of whether plant-based omega3s are as effective. Many doctors take the stance that it is important to eat fish if you have diabetes. Many people equate fish with good health, mainly because they contain omega 3 fatty acids.

To better understand this, let’s unpack the nature of omega 3s.

There are three important omega3 fatty acids (ALA – alpha-linolenic acid; EPA – eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA – docosahexaenoic acid). Of these three types of fatty acids, plant-based foods typically only contain ALA. ALA is the trickier of the three to process and the body has to convert ALA into EPA and DHA in order to get the benefits.  

The body is completely capable of converting ALA into EPA and into DHA. But while ALA is very efficient in converting to EPA, you require large amounts of ALA to produce optimal amounts of DHA. This is one of the reasons why omegas from fish are thought to be better – because they contain EPA and DHA.

However, it is quite possible, with a varied and healthy plant-based diet, to get in enough ALA to sufficiently produce EPA and DHA.

One of the promising plant-based omega3 sources is flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil does not contain EPA or DHA, it only contains ALA. But remember the body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA. One study showed that women who consumed one tablespoon of flaxseed oil (containing 6600 – 7700mg of ALA) were able to convert 21% (or 1386 – 1617mg) of ALA into EPA and 9% (594 – 693mg) of ALA into DHA. These quantities are above the recommended dosages for general health maintenance.

Other vegan sources of omega 3 include:

  • Walnuts
  • Soy-based food (soy milk, tofu, edamame beans, etc)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sea vegetables like seaweed, wakame and nori
  • Algae like spirulina and chlorella

If you are getting your omega 3s from plant-based sources, it is important to be aware of factors that can interfere with the conversion process:

  • High intake of omega-6 fats interfere with the ALA conversion
  • High alcohol intake
  • Deficiency in certain nutrients including some B vitamins and minerals such as zinc and magnesium
  • Trans-fatty acids from fried foods and hydrogenated oil

By controlling these factors and ensuring we eat a varied diet of plant foods rich in ALA, we can allow for the natural and efficient conversion of plant-based ALA into EPA and DHA.

But why not just get your omega 3s from fish?

Our oceans are no longer clean habitats for fish. They are rife with pollution and toxins, which are impacting the fragile eco-systems and have led to the poisoning of a large number of species. Fish and fish oils now often contain dioxins, PCBs, pesticides like DDT, flame-retardant chemicals, and heavy metals, including mercury, lead, and cadmium. These toxins can negatively affect human health.

If you’re considering going plant-based, it’s possible to have both a healthy and balanced diet, as well as offering a number of health benefits, especially for people with diabetes. The good news is that it’s never been easier to begin.

Nutrition tips to ensure you get the omega 3s you need from plant-based sources:

  • Unheated flax oil used in a dressing on foods is a very effective way to add it to your diet.
  • Plant-based protein alternatives fortified with flaxseed oil, like these Fry’s Fish-Style Fillets, are a convenient way to bring plant-based omega 3s into the diets of children and salad-wary eaters. Additionally, the Fry’s Fish—Style Fillets also have the same amount of omega-3 as tuna.
  • Quality flax oil or algae-based supplements are easy to add to a daily routine. Vegans and vegetarians just need to make sure they choose a brand with gelatin-free capsules.



Heart Awareness Month: Eating for the health of your heart

By Jessica Lazar the Green Dietician

This month is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa and the 29th of September is World Heart Day. Did you know that 225 South Africans die of heart disease every single day[i]? Heart disease is the 2nd most common cause of death in South Africa, with 1 in 5 South Africans dying of heart disease[ii]. Luckily 80% of these deaths are preventable[iii].

How do you prevent heart disease? By changing your lifestyle of course! Diet, exercise and stress management all contribute to better heart health. A plant-based diet has been shown to prevent and even treat heart disease. Risk of dying from Heart Disease is 24% lower in vegetarians than those who eat meat[iv]. In addition, vegetarians have been shown to have lower cholesterol levels than people who eat meat and vegans (who don’t eat any animal-based foods), have been shown to have even lower cholesterol levels than both vegetarians and meat-eaters[v].

High blood pressure is one of the main contributors to death from heart disease, with 2 in every 5 heart attacks in South Africa being caused by high blood pressure[vi]. Studies have shown that diets high in fruits and vegetables help to lower blood pressure and that vegans are 2.5 times less likely to have high blood pressure than meat eaters[vii].

Many of the components in plant foods such as fibre, antioxidants, unsaturated fatty acids and sterols help to actively lower cholesterol levels, keep our arteries flexible and protect our bodies against heart disease. By reducing our intake of saturated fats and cholesterol, mostly found in animal products, we can also lower our risk of heart disease, especially when we replace these foods with healthy plant foods such as vegetables, pulses, whole-grains and soy products. All-in-all a plant-based diet is one of the best dietary patterns for preventing heart disease and many other lifestyle-related diseases.

What does a plant-based diet consist of?

A plant-based diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds and soy products.

Soy foods are high in plant sterols which are known to lower cholesterol in the blood.[viii] Soy products have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and to lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood.[ix] In addition, soy foods are high in healthy Omega 3 fats (which also help to protect our hearts), fibre (which helps to lower cholesterol levels), protein and iron.

People who are strictly plant-based avoid all foods of animal origin, including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, butter and cheese. You don’t have to be 100% plant-based though to enjoy the health benefits of a plant-based diet but you should aim to eat plenty of healthy plant foods and to reduce animal foods, especially those that are high in saturated fats such as meat, cheese, butter, ghee and cream. If you miss meat, meat alternatives such as Fry’s are a great option. Fry’s meat alternatives low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free and are a source of fibre.

In contrast, meat products are high in saturated fat which has been shown to increase cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.[x] Meat is definitely rich in protein and iron but it has no fibre and very little Omega 3 fats which help to lower cholesterol. Therefore, replacing some of the meat in your diet with meat alternatives can be a great way to improve your health, still get enough protein and iron in your diet and reduce your risk for heart disease.

Here are some simple swaps which can help you to improve your heart health and enjoy a more plant-based diet:

  • Instead of using cow’s milk in your tea, coffee or cereal, switch to a plant-based milk alternative. Soy milk is particularly rich in protein and nutrients and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and many other diseases.
  • Instead of putting butter or cheese on your bread or crackers, switch to healthy plant-based spreads such as avocado, peanut butter, hummus or even omega-3 rich margarine.
  • Instead of using meat, chicken or fish in your curries, stews and hot dishes, try the Fry’s range of meat alternatives. These are made naturally cholesterol-free which can help to lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Instead of having eggs, bacon or cheese for breakfast, try switch to a good whole-grain porridge or cereal or whole-grain bread with one of the above toppings. You can even make a breakfast fry-up with some baked beans, Fry’s sausages and whole-grain toast.
  • Instead of snacking on biltong, cheese or yoghurt, switch to fresh fruits, nuts, seeds or vegetable sticks with hummus.
  • Instead of using cream in cooking or baking, try boiling some cashew nuts and blending them with water to make a delicious and healthy plant-based cream.
  • Going to a braai? Take along your Fry’s meat alternatives and remember to include plenty of salads and vegetables. Mushrooms, mielies, potatoes, peppers and aubergine are all great for popping onto the braai.

Some other tips for improving your heart health:

  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, high-fibre whole-grains and beans. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and add beans, chickpeas or lentils to your cooked dishes and salads. Make sure that your breads, crackers, pastas and rices are high in fibre and whole-grain.
  • Watch your salt intake. High salt intake increases blood pressure.[xi] Use fresh herbs and spices to flavour your meals and aim to forego salt during cooking. Cheese, processed meats, packet soups and salty snacks are all high in salt. Make sure to limit your intake of salt to 5g per day and to check labels on processed foods for sodium content.[xii]
  • Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.[xiii]
  • Get active. Physical activity reduces your risk of heart disease and many other diseases and helps to keep both your body and mind healthy. Aim for at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise.[xiv]
  • Stop smoking. Smoking increases your chances of getting heart disease by 5.6% for every cigarette smoked. [xv]
  • Manage your stress. Stress increases the risk for heart disease and contributes to poor lifestyle habits such as overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol and not getting enough sleep.[xvi] Getting active, getting enough sleep and eating a good diet are all ways to help manage stress. In addition, working on your emotional and mental health are important ways to manage stress. Whether this be meditation, yoga, spirituality, prayer, psychotherapy, counselling, medication, massage, journaling, dancing or just talking to a friend, make sure to make time for your mental wellbeing.


[viii] Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. Food and Drug Administration, HHS. Final rule. Fed Regist. 1999; 64(206):57699-57733.

Xiao CW. Health effects of soy protein and isoflavones in humans. J Nutr. 2008;138(6):1244S-1249S.

[ix] Welty FK, Lee KS, Lew NS, Zhou JR. Effect of soy nuts on blood pressure and lipid levels in hypertensive, prehypertensive, and normotensive postmenopausal women. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(10):1060-1067.



Getting serious on cereal: The Kasha Back story

When my dad started Fry’s in 1991, his idea was to craft nutritious and convenient alternatives to meat that my whole family (and friends) could all happily eat. Fast forward a good few 26 years later and now we are a fully-fledged second generation family business. And that means upping the ante a notch or two, all the while continuing to keep things plant-based, nutritious and tasty – just as my dad would have wanted!

My sister, Hayley, and I are both working mums and are avid cross-fitters, so we find the time in the day just slips by, while we are left scrambling in the morning to drop the kids off at school on time, getting to meetings, and working out, let alone finding the time to make wholesome meals! We needed to make things easier, and it needed to start with our food. We asked ourselves, “What can we make that is easy and doesn’t compromise our health and our kids’ health?”

It needed to be a pre-workout shake, post-workout shake, breakfast on the run, desk eating-approved, important meeting-accepted, lunchbox-friendly and afternoon snack-OK’d. It needed protein and superfoods. It also had to be natural, low in sugar and 100% vegan. Basically, we wanted to make superhero food. Not an easy task.

But we were determined to make our dream of crafting a nutritious and yummy triple-threat meal a reality.

And so Kasha was born.

First, we had to decide on the flavours and develop the recipes. Figuring out which ingredients went well together without one or the other dominating, getting the texture perfect, and ensuring it was nutritionally balanced was certainly a learning process. We played around with superfoods like moringa and chia seeds, healing spices like cinnamon, and some of nature’s finest plant proteins, soy isolate, buckwheat and oats. As my sister and I, as well as our four young children, follow a plant-based diet it was important that the ingredients were healthy, comprehensive and light on the planet. After having countless breakfast-for-dinner nights, we got the two recipes – Chocolate and Vanilla & Chia – exactly how we wanted them to be.

Then we had to figure out a name. Oh dear. After going through the dictionary, we settled on “Kasha”. Kasha is a type of cereal or porridge made from buckwheat groats that have been roasted, soaked and simmered until soft, and because one of the main ingredients in the cereal is buckwheat, we decided on the simple and catchy name.

We then moved to the packaging: a critical component to the whole endeavor. How could we package Kasha in such a way that was different from the run-of-the-mill cereal brands? We wanted our packaging to obviously be fully reusable while conveying the health benefits simply and effectively. As we were moving into another category (from frozen foods to cereals), we also had to consider how to portray Fry’s so that we were still recognizable to our current customers and impactful to new customers.

We decided on a distinctive tub shape for the box. But finding a supplier was a nightmare! The lid width was completely unique so had to be specially made but we were adamant on settling for what we wanted! The other design challenges were massive too. We brought together some of the best minds in the industry: one Australian (who was in Durban at the time on a surfing trip), myself (a Durbanite living in Australia), a marketing guru from Cape Town, and our own in-house designer, based in Durban. This was our small team of four who took on the challenge to design the cereal pack. We spent months of trial-and-error on designs that didn’t really work. Revert after revert, we finally nailed it. Kind of.

After months of hard work, we supplied the artwork to the printer. This started a whole new set of problems… They could not reproduce the colours correctly and the Chocolate variant colour looked identical to Vanilla & Chia. It was back to the drawing board!

And then everything was ready. Our desire to be different paid off and our protein-packed instant cereal, Kasha, was finally good to go! It was time to hit the shelves around the world as the perfect on-the-go meal option that could be used as a superfood breakfast cereal or added to smoothies. Made from only the best that nature has to offer and an ingredient list you can understand, Kasha is a product very close to my family’s heart and mine too.

I hope you enjoy Kasha as much as we do. Life is what happens between bowls of Kasha!

Love Tammy Fry



Inspiring change with Tammy Fry: Her story

Thank you to Conversations in Noosa for this awesome podcast, featuring our International Marketing Director, Tammy Fry. This wide-ranging conversation covers topics never heard before from Tammy herself, including what it was like growing up as a vegetarian alongside her father (Fry’s founder, Wally Fry) who was a goat trader at the time, marrying her husband who used to be a hunter, creating as self-defense courses for women, her health and her current diet.


How to get healthy this Women’s Month: Advice from a dietitian

In honour of Women’s Month, our guest dietitian Melanie Sher, unpacks key ingredients and lifestyle advice, from plant-based protein, what to eat for optimal hormone production and self-care for overall health and wellbeing for women.

Hello August! Woman’s Month! And in my opinion, and I may be ever-so-slightly bias, the best month of the year!

One of my favourite quotes goes as follows “I am a woman – what’s your superpower?” And this is indeed true – most women are superwomen, nurtures, caregivers, organizers, co-ordinators… they just manage to do it all. We are great at looking after others, but are we always as good at looking after ourselves?

This month, the focus is on women’s health and what women can do to live right and stay healthy.

So let’s discuss a few things that YOU, as a woman, can do for yourself to ensure you live your best possible life.

Eat well

“You are what you eat?” Heard this one before? Food is the source of nutrition and all good things for the body. The food you eat will affect everything: your appetite control, your mood, your energy levels, your health, and your immunity. So let’s discuss some foods you can incorporate into your diet for overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Soy. It is considered to be ‘A storehouse of nutritional riches,’ as it contains all 9 essential amino acids, vitamin E, some B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium, amongst others, making it one of the best vegetarian protein alternatives. Some examples include edamame beans, soymilk, miso, tempeh, tofu and meat alternatives, like Fry’s. My favourite from the Fry’s range is the Chicken-Style Strips! I love including it into a veggie stir fry for dinner – yum! But for years, soy got a bad rap because of its isoflavones, as it was feared that they could act as estrogen in the body and stimulate cancer cells. But a steady stream of studies showed that a diet moderate-to-high in soy didn’t increase the chances of developing breast cancer and may even reduce that risk.

    In one study of more than 73,000 Chinese women, researchers found that those who ate at least 13 grams of soy protein a day, roughly one to two servings, were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who got less than 5 grams. So without going into too much science, soy can be eaten in combination with a healthy, balanced diet. But, as with everything else that we eat in our diet, it should be eaten in moderation, and in combination with other foods.

  1. Healthy fats. Yes, you heard me right, fats are not the enemy. In fact, the ‘good fats’ are an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Fat is a major source of energy and helps you absorb certain vitamins and minerals. We need fat to build cell membranes and protective myelin sheaths. Healthy fats also have a cardio-protective effect, are essential for brain functioning, and are the raw material that we need to produce and maintain proper hormone function. So what are these healthy fats we talk of? Your mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, of course. Here are some of my favourite food items you can eat to  ensure you’re getting your ‘daily dose:’
  • Seeds! Eating pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds consistently as part of a healthy diet supports hormone balance. They provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids, trace minerals, and nutrients needed for hormone production. But remember to grind seeds with a harder shell, such as flaxseeds, before eating them, sprinkling them on your salad or adding them to your smoothie. This allows easier digestion by the body, and ensures that you get the full nutritional value!
  • Avocados! Besides the fact that they are absolutely delicious, avocados are another excellent addition to your hormone-balancing diet. They’re full of mono-unsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid — all essential for maintaining hormonal balance in the body. They are also low in sugar and high in fiber, making them a great choice for regulating the production of insulin in your body.
  1. Non-dairy calcium sources. It’s no secret that calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, but it goes beyond that. This mineral also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and even prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to type 2 diabetes).  For women it is extra-important to reach our daily calcium requirements to decrease our risk of developing osteoporosis. So with all these known benefits, we need to make sure we are eating enough calcium daily. Not sure how to add alternative food sources of calcium into your diet? Why not make a tasty broccoli salad, throw some black beans into your stir fry or prepare a scrambled tofu wrap from work lunch? Some other non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, fortified orange juice, and soy milk and products, which can all be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet. Did someone say non-dairy, delicious smoothies?!

Exercise regularly

One of the keys to living a healthy, well-balanced life is making time to exercise regularly.  Exercise is one of those controllable factors in ensuring overall health, and whilst cardiovascular exercise improves heart health and assists with weight management, resistance training – especially when using your own body-weight – will help you build and maintain muscle mass.

Other benefits of exercise include lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, preventing diabetes, improving mood and cognitive function, and reducing mortality.

Many of the health issues that women face can be improved substantially with consistent exercise.

  • Exercise helps counteract hormonally-driven mood swings. Women live with shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone that impact their fertility patterns as well as their brain chemistry and moods. When estrogen levels drop, such as before and during a woman’s period or leading up to menopause, there is a decrease in the release of the “feel-good” brain chemical called serotonin. This makes them more susceptible to moodiness, depression and anxiety attacks, such as the symptoms found in severe premenstrual syndrome or postpartum depression. Exercise counters these hormonally-triggered mood swings by releasing endorphins, another mood regulator. Sometimes called the “runner’s high”, endorphins leave you feeling happy and relaxed after a workout. 
  • Exercise also plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones. This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown, which helps promote overall health.

Over and above these health benefits of exercise of women, exercise can also increase your energy levels, improve your digestion, improves your quality of sleep, and can decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases. Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health!

Practice gratitude

We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. Whether you choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal, or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that you have, giving thanks can transform your life.

Some health benefits of practicing gratitude are as follows:

  • Gratitude improves self-care.
  • Gratitude improves physical health.
  • Gratitude improves psychological health.
  • Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  • Grateful people sleep
  • Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  • Gratitude increases mental strength.

So superwomen … what are you going to do to take care of yourself during this beautiful Women’s Month?

Want to know more about your nutrition? Get in touch with Melanie Sher.


Healthy eating for kids

Childhood obesity is becoming a global epidemic, and along with increasing rates of chronic diseases of lifestyle (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancers) during childhood, it is apparent that the state of our children’s health is in a dire situation.

In South Africa, 14.2% of primary school children are overweight or obese. At the current rate, it is predicted that a whopping 3.91 million school children in South Africa will be overweight or obese by the year 2025.  In addition, conditions such as early-onset diabetes and high blood pressure are also on the rise. We know that these conditions are related to lifestyle choices (diet, exercise and stress) and as a result, we are forced to examine how our food choices could be affecting our children’s health. In addition to these chronic lifestyle-related conditions, we are also seeing an increase in a range of other childhood diseases, from autism, ADHD and anxiety to constipation, allergies, asthma and auto-immune diseases. It may not seem obvious, but these diseases are also related to dietary and lifestyle factors. So what is the cause of this rapid decline in the health status of our children?

Our Busy Lifestyles Lead to Unhealthy Food Choices

As modern life becomes more demanding, most parents are forced to not only care for their children and look after domestic duties, but to also work full-time and spend many hours commuting on a daily basis. This leaves little time for food preparation, with most families relying on convenience options such as takeaways, ready-made meals and quick supermarket snacks. Unfortunately, most of these convenience options are packed with added sugars, salt, preservatives, trans-fats and a number of other processed ingredients which have a detrimental impact on growing bodies and developing brains. Even the most well-meaning and health-conscious parents are often forced to compromise on health due to the basic lack of nutritious and healthy convenience options on supermarket shelves as well as the lack of time available to them to prepare healthier options from scratch. Even snacks and convenience options that may appear to be healthy often have unhealthy additives, hidden sugars and preservatives which can increase the risk for health-related conditions during childhood.

For example, in 2015 the World Health Organization added processed meat to a growing list of recognized carcinogens, meaning that it has been out-rightly proven that processed meat causes cancer. In addition, red meat was added as a probable cause of cancer. So what does this mean? To be direct seemingly healthy childhood favourites such as biltong, salami, viennas, lunch meats and polony have all been linked to increased risk for cancer and even unprocessed red meats like mince and steak could well be a cause of cancer.

Why Choose to Eat Plant-Based?

This is one of the many reasons I promote a plant-based diet for children. Not only are plant-protein options free of the harmful carcinogens, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, cholesterol and hormones that are often found in meat and dairy but they are also full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants which help to fight disease and keep children healthy. Studies have found that children who eat a plant-based diet grow to the same height as meat-eating children but have less risk of becoming overweight or obese and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Children who maintain a healthy weight during childhood are less likely to become overweight or obese during adulthood and healthy eating habits that are set during childhood are often maintained throughout life which means that eating a plant-based diet early in life can establish lifelong healthy habits.

Making sure that the house is stocked up with healthy snacks is one way to ensure that children are not only getting in enough energy, but also getting in enough nutrients and protein for optimal growth and development.

Children need to eat about 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which means that all meals and snacks should contain a small amount of fruits or veg. In addition, children need to eat lots of good quality protein, wholesome carbohydrates and healthy fats in order to have enough energy for both their busy days and for growth. Since plant-protein options are my preferred choice of protein, I always encourage parents to make sure that there is a good source of plant protein at every meal. Foods such as legumes, natural soya products, peanut butter, quinoa, and nuts and seeds are all high in good quality plant proteins. The Fry’s Crafted Range makes for a great nutritious meat alternative that is packed with good quality natural plant protein ingredients such as non-GMO soya protein, chia seeds, rice protein, quinoa and chickpeas. In addition, the Crafted Range products are a source of healthy omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids from ingredients such as chia seeds, flax oil and sunflower seed oil. Not only are these products super nutritious and free of harmful ingredients, but they are one of the few convenience options available on supermarket shelves for busy parents.

Here are my top tips for making healthy, nutritious meals for the whole family without needing to spend hours in the kitchen:

  1. Make use of healthy and nutritious convenience products. Healthy and nutritious ready-made snacks may be few in number but you can take advantage of the great products that are readily available on our supermarket shelves. Natural dairy-free yoghurts, pre-cut veg sticks, commercial hummus, plain popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, whole-grain crackers, Fry’s Kasha, pretzels and Fry’s Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls and Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels all make for quick healthy snack options.
  2. Make one-pot meals. Yes, a variety of food groups are needed at each meal to make a healthy balanced meal, but that doesn’t mean that meals need to be made up of a number of different dishes in order to make them balance. In fact, putting all your different food groups into one dish can help to reduce preparation time and reduce wastage as well as making certain food groups, such as vegetables, more acceptable for picky eaters. So, why not try a hearty pasta, risotto, shepherd’s pie or veggie bake as your next family meal?
  3. Minimize chopping and cutting. Most of the time that goes into healthy meal preparation is not necessarily spent cooking but in preparing vegetables and other ingredients for cooking. This process is known as pre-preparation. Minimize pre-preparation time by investing in a good electric chopper, buying pre-cut vegetables, soup packs and stir fry mixes or by pre-preparing your vegetables in bulk ahead of time. You may spend a little bit extra on things like pre-cut veggies but the investment in your families’ health and the time you save will be totally worth it.
  4. Prepare. As they say, “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” and preparing some of your food in advance for the week is a sure way to save time during the week and ensure a healthy diet for you and your family. From planning family dinners, to pre-cutting veggies, or even batch cooking and freezing meals in advance, every bit of preparation you embark on will save you time in the future. Don’t forget to also stock up on healthy snacks such as veggie sticks, cut up fruit, hummus, whole-grain crackers and popcorn for when those munchies hit.
  5. Get the kids involved. Getting kids involved in cooking and meal preparation can seem to be more work than benefit, especially when you’re having a busy week but empowering your kids to make their own snacks and lunch boxes and take a turn or two to cook dinner, will teach them about good nutrition and pay off in the long run.
  6. Simplify lunch boxes. Don’t get bogged down with complicated lunch box ideas. Get a lunch box with various compartments and fill each compartment with different fruits, veg, protein options and crackers. This will save you the time of having to make sandwiches and salads and the variety of fruits and vegetables will keep your kids interested.
  7. Variety. Variety is truly the spice of life and when it comes to kids, nothing keeps them interested in food like variety. But this doesn’t have to mean a lot of work or time on your behalf. You can use the same basic ingredients in 3 or 4 different ways without kids feeling bored or noticing that they’re eating the same foods over and over. For example, one could use the Fry’s Crafted Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels as a pita bread filling, as finger food on a snack plate or as meatless balls in a pasta.

The Super Plate

The Super Food Plate was developed to help parents to understand the nutritional needs of their children and to plan balanced meals.

Super Meal Plate for Kids

Explaining the Food Plate

Fruits and Veg: 5-7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate). Includes all fresh vegetables and fruits e.g. apple, banana, berries, pineapple, watermelon, dried fruit, salad, tomatoes, spinach, kale, cucumber, corn, baby marrows, mushrooms, etc.

Grains and Starches: 7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate) Includes all whole-grain products and starchy vegetables e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, potato, sweet potato, butternut, barley, whole-wheat bread/ crackers, etc.

Proteins: 2-3 servings per day Includes all legumes and soya products as well as nuts and seeds e.g. Fry’s products, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, beans, chia seeds, peanut butter, etc.

Fats: 3-4 servings per day. Includes all oils and added fats e.g. avocado, tahini, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, olive oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, etc.

Outside of the plate: 3 servings per day of non-dairy milk/ milk products. Includes all plant milks/ milk products but preferably soya milk e.g. soya milk, almond milk, soya yoghurt, etc.

Here are some healthy meal ideas, making use of the Food Plate, without having to spend hours in the kitchen:


Kasha berry smoothie

Ingredients: frozen berries, banana, Vanilla & Chia Kasha, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

Chocolate protein flapjacks

Ingredients: whole-grain flour, Cacao Kasha, ground flax, mashed banana, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils

Peanut butter oatmeal

Ingredients: oatmeal, soya milk, peanut butter, cinnamon, banana, strawberries

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils


Veg sticks, whole-grain crackers and hummus

Ingredients: veg of choice (baby tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, sugar snap peas) + hummus

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Balls with peanut dipping sauce

Ingredients: Crafted Range Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Balls + peanut sauce (peanut butter, maple syrup, water)

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Banana chia muffins

Ingredients: oat flour, banana, chia seeds, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils


Rice Protein and Chia Nuggets with baked sweet potato batons and pink beet hummus

Ingredients: Crafted Rice Protein and Chia Nuggets, sweet potato, hummus, beetroot

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Country Roast sandwich

Ingredients: Crafted Range Soy and Quinoa Country Roast thinly sliced, whole-grain bread, mustard, lettuce, tomato, cucumber

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Falafel in pita bread

Ingredients: whole-wheat mini pita breads filled with Crafted Range Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels, hummus, dairy-free yoghurt and chopped salad

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils


Fresh fruit and soya yoghurt

Ingredients: fresh seasonal fruit, soya yoghurt

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Protein

√ Milk

Snack plate

Ingredients: Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls, seed crackers, guacamole, olives, cherry tomatoes, popcorn

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Chia seed pudding

Ingredients: chia seeds, cinnamon, soya milk, fresh chopped pineapple, coconut

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Protein

√ Milk

√ Fats/ oils


Lentil cottage pie

Ingredients: lentils, stock, carrot, celery, onion, spices, potato mash, soya milk

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Meat-free meat ball pasta

Ingredients: whole-grain pasta, Crafted Range Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels, roasted tomato and pepper pasta sauce, mushrooms, spinach dairy-free basil pesto

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Butternut risotto

Ingredients: short-grain brown rice, soya milk, stock, butternut, carrots, onion, nutritional yeast, Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls. Optional: dairy-free cheese

√ Fruits/ veg

√ Grains

√ Protein

√ Fats/ oils

Ensuring that your children have the best start in life has been made easy and convenient thanks to Fry’s Crafted Range of natural plant-protein products. With just a little bit of planning, preparation, and the use of a few healthy convenience options such as those found in the Crafted Range, a nutritious plant-based diet is within reach for the whole family. This type of diet will not only allow for healthy living in a time-limited modern world but will also prevent many of the chronic debilitating conditions affecting today’s children and allow your children to develop to their full potential.

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Healthy and plant-based on a budget! (Yes, it’s possible!)

One of the main things I get asked from people when talking about healthy, plant-based eating, or eating clean, is how to do it on a budget. When I hear people say that their shopping bill has taken a knock since they went vegan, I wonder where and what they are buying. I have spoken to friends who were once meat-eaters and who now eat wholly plant-based, and they all agree with me that swapping the beef for the beans has resulted in a shrinking grocery budget.

When my hubby, Rich, left his salary just over a year ago to start his own business, the budget was tight and we had to make some personal budget cuts.  Yet, we managed to halve our food budget! And we managed to do it without sacrificing our health. Of course, we could have loaded up on bread and peanut butter, noodles chips, but our goal was to still cook well-balanced and nutritious meals – that’s the goal, surely – without overspending.

If your goal is to be healthy and happy without breaking the bank each month, take a look at what I’ve tried and tested with my own family:

Go Plant-Based

If going plant-based is something you haven’t fully put into practice yet, I suggest taking the plunge! With the World Health Organisation declaring processed meat as a carcinogenic and red meat in general possibly causing cancer, it seems then that eating meat may result in high medical bills later down the line. To avoid spending your money on going to the doctor and on medication, you can reduce that risk by choosing to eat more plants! According to this study eating a plant-based diet may be a simple, low-cost intervention to preventing heart disease. And there are many more studies that are continuing to prove a plant-based diet can help reverse diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, types of cancer, type-2 diabetes and arthritis.

Buy in Bulk for your Base

If you fear to eat the same thing every day – I know I like to switch things up – I suggest purchasing three different packages of different “bulk bases” which you can rotate over a few weeks and form the base of your meals. Find your nearest bulk food store or the bulk food section at your supermarket for cheaper bags of beans, pasta, flours and grains like rice, oats, barley and cous cous. Also look for starchy root vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes which are not only cheap and filling but also very nourishing. Be sure to rotate your bases too so the nutrition you get varies.

Buy Seasonally & Frozen

Check out your seasonal food guide (based on where you live in the world) as a planning guide so that you can shop seasonally. It’s cheaper and tastier! If possible, going to a farmer’s market and buying directly from the grower is more cost-effective. Additionally, frozen produce can be cheaper than fresh – I know this can’t be done with all fruit and veg, but doing it here and there can make a huge difference. These fruit and veg are flash-frozen just hours after they have been harvested so one could argue that they are more nutritious than fresh produce. For an economical meal, I like to make a soup by adding frozen veggies, veg stock, spices and some legumes like lentils (which I sometimes buy dried and then soak and boil myself).

Planning on a Full Stomach

Plan your weekly snacks and meals ahead of time (a bit of a hack on a glorious Sunday afternoon, but well worth the 10 minutes of your time!). This results in less waste and unnecessary purchases when you’re in the supermarket. Also, just don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… It is much easier to resist those just-in-case items when you’re not thinking about when you’re going to get your next bite to eat!

Special Occasions and Deals

Vegan meat alternatives, like Fry’s, obviously don’t cost the same as a bag of dried chickpeas, but sometimes you may be craving such foods or want something quick and easy to make. Often Pick n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite and Spar run special promotions so can you work them into your budget. These stores run deals like buy-one-get-one-free or bulk pack specials which is always a good time to stock up the freezer. When comparing meat alternatives to actual meat, you will find that the prices are competitively priced, sometimes with meat being double the cost! Next time you’re at the grocery store, compare the prices and you will be surprised!

Get Cooking

Cooking from scratch can save you heaps.  It also doesn’t need to take hours of your time – especially if you’ve planned what you’re going to cook. I cook everything we eat for my family and we rarely eat out. Eating out should be a very occasional treat or avoided altogether if you’re on a budget. When I prepare my meals, I always cook in large batches and freeze the leftovers. And if I see some produce starting to look a bit worse for wear, I either cook them that day or freeze them immediately.

Some of my favourite recipes to make for the family include:

All of these recipes can be made in bulk with frozen vegetables, a few spices and a cheap grain or starch as the base. Swapping your meat with one pack of Fry’s (like the Mince or Strips) is economical and sustainable and makes the cooking process really simple!

Eating on vegan on a budget with Fry's

Those “Peanuts and Red Bull” Purchases

Petrol stations can wreak havoc with your food budget – ask us, we know!  When Rich and I first got together, we just couldn’t seem to save money.  We spent one month keeping the slips from every purchase we had made.  We found the problem – “peanuts & Red Bull”! We now have our own personal budget item called “the peanuts and Red Bull” expense, which is for those last-minute, unexpected, must-have items that all of us get sucked into buying at some point in the month.

Grow What You Can

We may not all have the space to grow our food, but with a windowsill and some TLC, you can grow things like herbs, peppers, radishes, lettuce and kale. Start small and add more pots when you feel ready. It may feel like an effort initially, but once you get the ball rolling, there is nothing quite like picking your own homegrown produce!

Some Parting Thoughts

Of course, we need to remember that there is always an uphill battle we have to fight. In David Simon’s Book “Metanomics”, he discusses the complex economic forces behind the production of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, and how the decisions around what we think we choose to eat are made by the animal food producers who control our buying choices with artificially-low prices, misleading messaging, and heavy control over lobbying, legislation and regulation. So while we are told to increase our fruit and veggie intake, more than half of agriculture subsidies directly or indirectly support the meat and dairy production with less than one percent benefiting fruit and veg producers, as reported by The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

If it seems like the cost of eating a plant-based diet will never decrease, I understand your frustrations but each one of us can make a difference! Keep voting with your fork, join and support vegan advocacy organisations, and share the health and economic benefits of a plant-based diet with those around you. Every person can make a difference!


Choose heart smart: Improve your heart health in ten steps

By Dr Paul Palmer – Plant-Based Nutrition Consultant and Musculoskeletal Occupation Health Specialist

Have a change of heart this Heart Awareness Month by making small but significant adjustments to your overall lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart-related diseases and improve your overall heart health. 

Remember when doctors prescribed “healthy” cigarettes and smoking as something that was “good for you”? Luckily, much has changed over the last few decades. Preventative care is fast becoming an approach to health for many people. Yet heart disease – which can be prevented – is still one of the leading causes of death in South Africa.

Once thought to only be a disease for the elderly, more than half of heart-related deaths now affect people under the age of 65 years, while over 17 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization. It’s a staggering number when one considers that 80% of these premature deaths can be prevented by eating better, moving more and avoiding smoking.

As this month is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa, and with World Heart Day falling on the 29th of September, I encourage you to make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle that will increase your longevity and improve your overall happiness!

So for this month, I ask you to take the pledge to commit to your heart by going plant-based!

Why plant-based? By choosing to go meat-free, you reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, the leading cause of an increased risk of heart disease.

Are you ready to make heart-smart choices? Here are my top ten tips on how to get wholeheartedly healthy!

  1. Eliminate Saturated Fats with Plants

Overwhelming scientific evidence links the consumption of meat and animal products to numerous diseases. According to medical experts at the American Heart Association (AHA), eating saturated fat increases the amount of cholesterol present in the blood which results in an increased risk for heart disease and stroke (1). By replacing animal foods and highly refined carbs with whole plant foods is a proven way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Eat Fruit and Veg to Instantly Boost Your Fibre Intake and Lower Your Cholesterol

A well-rounded diet should be abundant with veggies, leafy greens, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains and fruit. These foods are rich in dietary fibre which helps to lower LDL cholesterol (AKA “bad cholesterol”). Fibre interacts with the bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and helps to remove it quickly from the body, decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol absorbed.

Dr Michael Greger M.D. FACLM states that 97% of Americans are deficient in fibre (2). On average, we get only about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5 – so we get less than half of the minimum! The question shouldn’t be “Where do you get your protein?” but rather “Where do you get your fibre?” Low blood cholesterol levels can be achieved by replacing animal protein with plant protein like legumes, soy and oats, and with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds.

  1. Take Your Omegas but Cut Out the Middle Fish

Essential omega fats are important for a healthy heart, reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to support normal cholesterol levels. They are called “essential” because our bodies cannot make them and as such, we need to get them from our food. And we don’t need fish to help us out. Plant-based sources of omega 6’s include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soya-based foods. Get your omega 3’s in the form of chia, hemp and flax seeds.

  1. Use Heart-Smart Alternatives when Cooking

Too much oil in one’s diet is not as heart-healthy as the media likes to suggest. According to physician and nutrition expert, Dr John McDougall, MD, foods rich in monounsaturated fats like olive oil may be healthier than foods rich in saturated and trans-fats like animal protein, but just because something is “healthier” does not mean it is good for you (3). Pouring oil over your food means you’re consuming a lot of fat. And eating a lot of fat, including “healthier” ones, means you’re eating a lot of calories, causing weight gain, and leading to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

When cooking at home consider using a Philips Airfryer instead of a deep fryer, stove or even the oven! An Airfryer is a nifty kitchen appliance that uses hot air to cook, roast and bake food with minimal to no oil, thereby eliminating saturated and hydrogenated fat, without compromising on texture or taste.

  1. Eat the Rainbow for a Nutritional Boost

A plant-based diet is rich in a host of nutrients that are heart-protective. Eat the rainbow and consume a colourful array of fruit and veggies that are rich in antioxidants, plant sterols, phytochemicals, iron and potassium, all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. And if you crave meat, opt for one of Fry’s meat replacement products, such as the Chicken-Style Burger (my personal favourite) or the Golden Crumbed Schnitzels.

  1. Eat More Soy-Based Foods

Soy ahoy! Soy plays a role in keeping your heart healthy as the protein found in soybeans has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, soybeans contain additional components, such as isoflavones, lecithins, saponins and fibre that may be beneficial to cardiovascular health by improving blood pressure, glycemic control, obesity, and inflammation (4). Got Nuggets?

  1. Increase Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Any movement is better than sitting still when it comes to improving your heart health. Increase your cardiovascular fitness by running, cycling, circuit training or with high-intensity interval training. These kinds of exercises cause the blood to pump much harder which forces the arterial wall to stretch, improving the elasticity of the arteries. Alternate between intensity and between upper and lower body exercises with minimal rest periods for maximum results.

  1. Strength Training for a Strong Heart

Weight training is as important for building muscle mass as it is for building a strong heart. After all, your heart is a muscle! Lifting weights or using your own bodyweight is effective in burning fat, improving bone health and strengthening your heart. Yoga is also great for strength and muscle toning. Different styles of yoga like Ashtanga or Power Vinyasa keeps your heart elevated throughout the class, giving you a combined strength and cardio workout!

  1. Reduce Smoking

The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells, the function of your heart, and the structure and function of your blood vessels. This damage increases your risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, leading to raised blood pressure, chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, and death. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can help reverse heart and blood vessel damage and reduce heart disease risk.

  1. Cook for your Heart with Your Heart

By eating a plant-based diet, or reducing your meat consumption, you are not only eating a diet that is good for your heart, but it also means you are making a powerful ethical statement. By avoiding animal-based products from your diet, you withdraw support from cruelty to animals. Choosing to back the production of cruelty-free foods means you are not only cooking for your heart, but also with your heart.

Take a moment each day to take some deep breaths, acknowledge what you have in your life and to create positive affirmations. Slowing down and taking moments to be grateful have been linked with better health, greater well-being and longer, happier life!

If you know of someone who you think may benefit from reading this article or who suffers from a heart-related disease, please share it with them! It may just save their life!

Download the Fry’s Love Your Heart Cookbook that is filled with heart-smart and heart-loving recipes and enter the Love Your Heart Competition to stand a chance to win a Fry’s food hamper and 1 of 50 Philips Air Fryers, all to the value of R3000! Follow us on Facebook to enter. For competition details, click here.