Simple basic changes to help with heart disease

When facing heart disease there are some things you need to sort out.

Making simple changes can help you beat the odds against heart disease which is, at the end of the day, a leading cause of death.

  • Get smoke-free
    Quit smoking and stay clear of cigarette smoke to lower your risk of a few types of cardiovascular disease
  • Watch what you eat
    Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, fish, and avoid fats from meat, dairy, and processed foods high in hydrogenated oils
  • Stay active
    Couch potatoes have increased cardiovascular disease risk, so make sure you get regular exercise
  • Get tested
    See your doctor to find out if you have problems with high blood pressure or high blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, or glucose

It’s a good idea to chat with your doctor and get fully up to scratch on maintaining heart health with information from groups like The British Heart Foundation.

When it comes to supplements various nutritional aids are thought to be helpful such as Co-enzyme q10, L-carnitine and Taurine.

Higher Nature, a group dedicated to providing the best, natural, most effective supplements have three products which are all, in some way, thought to help reduce heart disease.

  • First up there’s Red Sterol Complex which is made from red yeast rice extract, which contains lovastatin (or statins as they are popularly known). This can be used to help lower unhelpful cholesterol in the body. (See NHS report)
  • Next, there’s Organic Flax Seed Oil which in rich in Omega 3. Having a diet which is high in Omega 3 is recommended for a healthy heart.
  • Finally there’s Maxi Multi, a good old multivitamin and mineral. It should be noted that B vitamins, vitamin C, E and A and magnesium have all been thought to be beneficial to heart health.

Heard about the connection between eating sausages and bacon and pancreatic cancer?

A link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer has been suggested by researchers in Sweden, who said that eating an extra 50g of processed meat, approximately one sausage, every day would increase a person’s risk by 19%. The study was conducted by Prof Susanna Larsson at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden and published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Avoiding meat

That will leave many of us worried about eating processed meat and concerned about the suggested link between eating sausages and bacon and pancreatic cancer. But many of us will know just what staples sausages and bacon have become in the British diet.

There are alternatives to meat – veggie style

Award-winning ethical food firm The Redwood Wholefood Company produces tasty meat-free sausages and meat-free ‘bacon’ from 100% natural, plant-based ingredients. They are not quite the same as the real bacon but then again we have been warned…

Redwood sausages and ‘bacon’ are free  from egg, dairy, lactose, cholesterol, hydrogenated fats, artificial colours/preservatives and GMOs, so they are a great veggie bacon choice for those wanting to avoid these things including vegans.

Finding vegetarian alternatives to meat

Redwood is the leading supplier of vegan foods and is 100% British. Rated the UK’s most ethical vegetarian foods supplier by The Ethical Company Organisation, Redwood produces more than 50 different foods under the Vegideli, Cheatin‘ and Cheezly brand names at its animal-free factory in Corby, Northamptonshire. So if you are serious about finding vegetarian alternatives to meat, Redwood really can help. Everything in its range is made from 100% natural plant-based ingredients so free from animal products and derivatives as well as cholesterol, artificial colours/preservatives, lactose, hydrogenated fats and GMOs, making them suitable for vegetarians and vegans as well as those looking for healthier and more ethical lifestyles. Widely recognised as one of the most innovative and inspirational vegetarian food companies in the UK, Redwood is renowned for being at the cutting edge of food manufacturing and exports to 18 countries worldwide.

Alternatives to milk

Possibly 75% of people around the world are lactose intolerant – which might go some way to explaining why there are so many alternatives to milk.

But there are numerous other reasons too, it might be simply be beneficial to health, or autism related, or asthma, or galactosaemia, or a sensitivity to casein or one of many other problems with drinking milk.

Whatever your reason it’s important to make sure you’re still getting the calcium, iodine and vitamins that you need.

Here are some of the alternatives…

Goat’s milk
Rich in nutrients and easier to digest (even though it still contains lactose). It has less casein but almost as much fat and calories as cow’s milk. However, it can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency in children.

Sheep’s milk
Sheep’s milk has twice as many minerals, eg. calcium, phosphorus and zinc and the vitamin B-complex, as cow’s milk. But it is also higher in calories and fat. Like goat’s milk, it is easily digested. And it’s also a good source of iodine, which helps if you suffer with thyroid problems.

Camel’s milk
Five times as much Vitamin C as cow’s milk. Helps with diabetes. Contains some lactose. Not easy to source.

Buffalo’s milk
Higher in calcium, protein and iron and contains more vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) and 43% less cholesterol than cow’s milk. But it also has twice as much fat and still contains lactose. Not easy to source.

Hemp milk
Half the amount of protein of cow’s milk, and calcium is often added. Rich in Omega 3, minerals and vitamins, hemp milk also has a creamy consistency. No lactose.

Quinoa milk
Quinoa is a very digestive food and nutritionally well balanced. It’s protein contains all essential amino acids and it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. No lactose.

Spelt milk
A good source of fibre and B-complex vitamins. Cholesterol free. No lactose.

Oat milk
Rich in fibre, lowers cholesterol and low-GI. It’s actually the preferred energy drink of many athletes. A pleasant milky taste. No lactose.

Barley milk
Has a higher phosphorus and potassium content than regular milk. Helpful in repairing the body, though it doesn’t contain calcium. No lactose.

Kamut-wheat milk
Highly recommended for its milk-like taste. No lactose.

Millet milk
Lower in fat, higher in fibre and less calories than cow’s milk. Rich in protein and minerals. No lactose.

Rice milk
Compared to soya, rice milk is considered closer to cow’s milk in taste and texture. It is naturally sweet, low in fat and high in fibre. But it’s also low in calcium and protein. No lactose.

Soya milk
Soya milk is high in protein so it’s useful for cooking with. It is also comparatively cheaper than other milk alternatives due to its ubiquity. However, some avoid it because it can raise estrogen levels. No lactose.

Almond milk
Tastes great, and has some of the lowest calorie counts of all milk alternatives. No lactose.

Hazelnut milk
A thicker consistency. It also provides calcium and sulphur. No lactose.

Coconut milk
Lots of phosphorus, iron, magnesium and fibre makes coconut milk a superfood. It’s low in calories, boosts immunity and has a distinctive creamy taste.

Cashew nut milk
Delicious but not easy to find. Just as well it’s easy to make… Cashew’s are a good source of copper and magnesium.

Raw milk
The argument is that pasteurisation destroys some of the goodness in milk which would actually make it digestible for people with gut problems. It remains to be seen whether ‘green top milk’ is actually helpful for people with psoriasis and high blood pressure.

UV milk
Possibly the milk of the future: milk that is treated by UV instead of pasteurisation?

Lactose-Free milk
Or, of course, you could take the lactose out of the milk

You can also make milk from peas, peanuts, or seeds!

Rooibos tea is good for your heart

Teas from exotic regions. They often promise to be miracle elixirs.
So it’s nice when research backs it up, as for Rooibos tea which has been found to improve heart health.

Rating rooibos
We know the tea, also called redbush, contains antioxidants and other nutrients, and it often leaves you feeling refreshed. But health benefits attributed to its consumption were largely unproven.

Researchers invited 83 healthy men and women at risk from heart disease to participate in the rooibos study. They drank 6 cups of rooibos herbal tea daily for six weeks. Blood tests showed that:

• Rooibos tea increases polyphenols in your blood — a dietary nutrient associated with lower heart disease risk
• It also decreased cholesterol oxidation (high levels of oxidized cholesterol are believed to increase risk of heart disease)
• Drinking the tea also improved the body’s natural antioxidant system
• It decreased levels of bad cholesterol and increased good cholesterol
At GoodnessDirect we have nearly 30 different options for Rooibos Tea. It’s smooth but delicate flavour makes it a modern favourite in the tea drinking world. Make sure you have a box of Rooibos in your cupboard.

Teas health
So drinking six cups of Rooibos tea daily may improve your health. But then drinking almost any type of tea is likely to improve health. Many teas, from black to green to chamomile and other herbal varieties, appear to offer a variety of health benefits. So, if you like the taste of Rooibos, drink up. But if Rooibos doesn’t appeal, you may want to try green, black, or another herbal tea instead.

Also remember that one added benefit of tea drinking is that the tea can replace other, less healthy beverages. If you swap a can of coke for a cup of tea, you’ll be doing your health a favor, regardless.

It also has to be said that if you are at risk of heart disease then maintaining a healthy body weight, getting regular exercise, and eating healthily is likely to bring a big boost to your future health prospects.

Fluffy meringue, the ultimate gluten free dessert

meringues - gluten freeI took some of the Two Chicks  Liquid Egg Whites home with me this week.  As you know, with eggs, all the cholesterol is in the yolk.  So for those on a low cholesterol diet and feeling deprived of eggs, this is definitely the answer – liquid egg whites. You can use them for omelettes, fried egg, and mmmm … meringues!  I indulged in all of these delighting in the fact that is was simple, no left over egg yolks, no mess, no cholesterol and no gluten. Great.

Here is the meringue recipe I like, although in fact mine took longer than this to cook as I like to do them really slow on Gas Mark 1/2 and then turn the oven off and let them cool really slowly too.

Recipe for meringues:


* 4 large organic egg whites , at room temperature

220g sugar   (that is 55g of caster sugar per egg).  You can use half caster sugar and half icing sugar if you want to as this works well too. When I have been out of caster sugar I have even used granulated and it has been fine.

Cook 30 mins

1.Preheat the oven to gas 1⁄4. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof or parchment. If it’s greaseproof you will have to grease it too as meringues still stick to it.
2. Tip the egg whites into a large clean mixing bowl. Give it plenty of room to expand. Beat them on a slow or medium speed with an electric hand whisk to begin with  until the mixture to stiff peak status.  You can over whisk the egg, so don’t go too mad.
3. Now turn the speed up and start to add the  sugar, a dessert spoonful at a time. Continue beating for 3-4 seconds between each addition. It’s important to add the sugar slowly at this stage as it helps prevent the meringue from weeping later. Take care not to over-beat. When ready, the mixture should be thick and glossy.
4. If you are using icing sugar add that after the caster sugar by sifting a third of it at a time over the mixture, then gently fold it in .

The mixture should now look smooth and billowy and peak when you raise the spoon.
5. Scoop up a heaped dessert spoonful of the mixture. Using another dessert spoon, ease it on to the baking tray  in rough rounds. Bake for 1 1⁄2-1 3⁄4 hours in a fan oven, 1 1⁄4 hours in a conventional or gas oven, until the meringues sound crisp when tapped underneath and are a pale coffee colour. If you think some may be still squidgy in the middle turn the oven off, open the doors a little and let the meringues cool in the oven for a further 30 mins just to finish off the insides. Otherwise leave to cool on the trays or a cooling rack. (The meringues will now keep in an airtight tin for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for a month.) Serve two meringues sandwiched together with a generous dollop of softly whipped double cream ,(whoops there goes the cholesterol free recipe!)  soya cream and berries, or just berries for us healthier ambassadors.

So Good Oat Drink – a new delicious milk alternative

There’s been a lot of interest in a new drink from So Good.

This one is made from oats.

Other oat drinks already exist, so is it the 30% extra oats promise, or is it So Good’s reputation for quality milk alternatives that is making the difference?

So Good guarnatee that there are no preservatives in their drink, and it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol free. What’s  more, it has the same amount of calcium as semi-skimmed milk and includes vitamins A, B12 and D.

New and delicious
New and delicious

This oat version of So Good can be used for cooking, splashing on cereal or used for making ice creams and smoothies. It is easy to digest and is free from soya, dairy and lactose; and is made in a nut-free environment.

A deliciously milky drink, without the milk.

See what you think about So Good.

Oat bran drop scone recipe – Savoury or sweet

Not many people know how to use oat bran, but it is a great thickener for sauces, smoothies or hot chocolate. You can also make breads and cakes with it, or just sprinkle it on your yoghurt.

The advantage of oat bran is that it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels, it also helps dieters feel fuller for longer and raises the metabolism. Not to mention that it’s high in calcium, vitamin B and iron.

Here’s the recipe…

100g (4 oz) oatbran
A pinch of salt
1 egg
300 ml (½ pint) milk
25g (1 oz) butter, melted
For sweet scones add 2 level tbspsns caster sugar or sweet freedom
Mix the oatbran and salt (plus sugar or sweetener for sweet scones) in a bowl and make a well in the centre.

Break the egg into the well and add the milk gradually, as for making a batter. Stir in melted butter and allow to stand for 1 hour.

Cook spoonfuls of the batter in a preheated lightly greased non-stick pan for about 3 minutes each side or until golden.

Serve hot alongside a traditional English Breakfast or with warm syrup or jam.