I always thought that living in the Caribbean means a healthier lifestyle due to fresher, unprocessed food, more hours outdoor in sunshine, and more activity. I was wrong. The silent killer that is high blood pressure is running amok in Nicaragua.
In my husband Jose’s family, his mother has it. His oldest sister has it. So do many others. Here is why.
Food is fresher and often goes from tree to mouth or pot. Fish and other seafood go straight from the water to the pot too. But the problem is that they cook with a lot of salt. When they do cook with processed products, they are loaded with salt. Products like Magi consommé are used to prepare almost every meal to add flavor but it has salt as one of the first ingredients. They even sprinkle salt on fruits like green mangoes and pineapples to make them tastier to eat.
To make matters worse, they don’t exercise, unless it is a requirement of school or if they play organized sports like basketball or softball. In fact, most of the women, once the housework is done, sit and talk until it is time to start working again. The hours outdoors are only as are necessary for washing clothes and completing other yard work, and then it is indoors to watch novellas (Spanish Soap Operas) or on the verandah for respite from the sun’s heat.
The men seem less prone to having high blood pressure but that may be because they are more active especially those that work in fishing or in the bush where they cut trees and brush and plant a variety of food items such as coconut, cassava, breadfruit, etc.
I always thought high blood pressure was a North American problem but it is definitely a problem here in coastal Nicaragua.