About 44% of Canadians have high blood cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease. Health Canada has recently approved the following new heart health claim: “Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from vegetable oils helps lower/reduce cholesterol.” The claim may be applied to vegetable oils or a food made with vegetable oil provided that the food meets the specific criteria. For example, one of the criteria is that the vegetable oil must contain more than 80% polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.
Healthier oils are pictured in the chart above by larger blue, orange and yellow coloured bands which show the relative percentages of polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, and smaller red bands which show saturated fats.
What’s the consumer advice? Switch from saturated fats such as butter and lard to healthier oils such as canola, safflower and sunflower.
Health Canada has recently permitted a new health claim linking the consumption of psyllium fibre to a reduction of blood cholesterol. A sample claim is: “Psyllium fibre helps lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. 1 cup (30 g) of Brand X cereal with psyllium supplies 50% of the daily amount of fibre shown to help lower cholesterol.” The “daily amount” is 7 g of psyllium fibre. To make this claim, the food must contain at least 1.75 g of psyllium soluble fibre per serving size as well as meet other specific nutrient criteria.
According to Health Canada, increased psyllium intake could be beneficial for adults who have normal or high blood cholesterol levels. Psyllium is a grain similar to wheat and oats, and is a concentrated source of soluble fibre.
Only a few breakfast cereals currently contain psyllium fibre, but you can bet we’ll be seeing more psyllium-containing products hit the grocery shelves soon. For more information, read http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/psyllium-cholesterol-eng.php