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5 Foods to Keep Your Heart Healthy!

Heart healthy foods Feb 20 2017 - Sue L - 1

February is Heart Month! Did you know that 9 out of 10 adults have at least one risk factor for heart disease? The good news is that eating the right foods can keep your heart healthy.

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Whole grains
Barley and oats specifically contain a special type of fibre called beta-glucan. This type of fibre has been shown to lower blood cholesterol which is important since high blood cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. The beneficial amount is 3 grams of beta-glucan fibre which is found in 1 cup of cooked barley or 1½ cups of cooked oatmeal.

Try this recipe – Vegetable, Bean & Barley Stuffed Peppers


Nuts

Research shows that eating about 1.5 to 3.5 servings of nuts 5 times or more per week can also lower the bad LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol. All nuts have high proportions of healthy fats – these are called monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – and it’s these fats which help to reduce our cholesterol levels. Nuts are packed with nutrition like protein, vitamin E, selenium, folate and even calcium but the calories do add up, so keep in mind that a portion size is about ¼ cup. One easy way to eat more nuts is to eat them as a snack. Or you can easily add nuts to your oatmeal, in your baking recipes or in a stir-fry.


Soy protein

About 20-25 grams of soy protein helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Plus soy protein is a great vegetarian protein. To get this amount of soy protein, try any one of these options:
– ¾ cup cooked tofu or
– ¾ cup cooked edamame beans or
– 1 cup fortified soy beverage with ¼ cup roasted soy nuts

Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, artic char, mackerel and sardines are super sources of heart healthy omega-3 fats. These omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation and blood clotting. Aim to fish at least twice a week. A serving is 75 g of cooked fish or about the size and thickness of your palm.

Try this recipe – Salmon with Peanut Cucumber Relish

Veggies and Fruit
You can’t go wrong eating more fruit and veggies. Fruit and veggies are superstars for fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which protect us from not just heart disease but other health conditions too such as high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. As a general rule, try to have 1-2 servings of veggies or fruit at every meal and snack. Or just think of filling half your plate with veggies and fruit at every meal.

Health Canada approves new health claim for barley and cholesterol

There’s good new for barley! Health Canada has just approved the following heart health claim: “Barley fibre helps reduce cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.” To qualify for this claim, the food must contain at least 1 gram of beta-glucan from barley grain products per reference amount and per serving of stated size. Research shows that 3 grams of barley beta-glucan per day is effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. About 44% of Canadians have high blood cholesterol which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Image source: Wikia.com

New heart health claim

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.

Keep your Eyes on Psyllium

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

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