The motivations behind my work as a Plant-based Lifestyle Advocate are numerous, but one that is perpetually driving me is the state of health that majority of Malaysians are in. Malaysia is currently the fattest country in the whole of Asia, with 1 out of 5 Malaysians being obese. The number one killer in the country is coronary heart disease. According to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey and Institute of Public Health, almost half the population has high cholesterol. And within that half of the population with high cholesterol, almost 40% of them are walking around having NO idea.
When I was invited to attend the launch of a new nationwide health campaign – a partnership between Quaker and The Heart Foundation of Malaysia (Yayasan Jantung Malaysia or YJM for short) – I was keen to learn what it was all about. And I’m excited to be sharing the news, because it could involve you too!
The YJM – Quaker Smart Heart Challenge is a health intervention programme offered to all Malaysians. What does it involve? Getting your total cholesterol level checked, then consuming 75 grams (about 8 tablespoons) of Quaker Oats every day for 30 days, then taking a cholesterol test again to see if the total level has dropped.
The challenge takes place until 30th April, however the pre-challenge check-up must be done by 15th March. If you have a soft spot for free things, get this: as long as you meet all the criteria, joining the challenge is free… AND prizes will go to those with the highest cholesterol percentage reduction.
One of the criteria is that your pre-challenge cholesterol level is high or borderline high (above 200mg/dL or 5.2mmol/L) In a unique situation where failing a test was great news, my level was 4.32.
Although I can’t take the challenge myself, it’s a great opportunity for anyone concerned with their cholesterol levels to try out a positive lifestyle change. Of course, eating oats alone can only do so much. A reduced intake of saturated fats, increased intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and some good ol’ fashioned exercise can all contribute towards an improved cholesterol reading.
Oats are an incredible grain to keep in your regular diet. Aside from being a great source of iron, magnesium, calcium and high quality protein, the cholesterol-lowering property of oats is attributed to its high amounts of beta glucan. This soluble fibre passes right through the digestive tract and takes some cholesterol out with it, lowering your cholesterol levels in the process.
If you’re not acquainted with having oats every day, you might find it a little boring quite quickly. However, eating oatmeal doesn’t need to be a humdrum part of life. For the past year or two, I’ve actually been eating oats almost every day for breakfast, and I’ve been finding ways to keep it fresh and exciting.
Here’s a breakfast I made from Quaker Rolled Oats, with some soybean milk powder and spirulina powder stirred in, and accompanied with soaked chia seeds and local fruits. I love blending cold overnight oats and fruits into hearty smoothies too! The variety of local produce in Malaysia is mindblowing, allowing you to make endless fruit combinations and let your creativity shine.
As a savoury meal, oatmeal is an excellent replacement for rice congee. Here I’ve stirred in some turmeric and garlic powder, and topped it with homemade kimchi and fried tempeh cubes. Super yum.
These are merely suggestions and how you wish to eat oats is only limited to your own imagination!
My advocacy motto is ‘The journey to self-love starts with a mindful meal’. If you plan to take up the YJM-Quaker Smart Heart Challenge, I wish you all the best and may it set the tone for a more mindful relationship with food and for more amazing changes to come.
(This blogpost is sponsored by Quaker Malaysia.)