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:

Ingredients

* 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.

Sea Buckthorn Oil, omega 7 and the unspeakable issues of the menopause

I have recently come to appreciate the benefits of Sea Buckthorn Oil, have you heard of it? No neither had I, nor had my mother. Why this uniquely cleaver little oil is not more widely acclaimed I’m not sure, so I delved a little deeper into it’s history and qualities. Here is what I discovered.

What is Sea Buckthorn oil?

Sea Buckthorn is found in Asia and Europe. It was used by Tibetan and Mongolians more than one thousand years ago as a medicinal ingredient. You can never underestimate those Tibetans can you? The interesting feature of the Sea Buckthorn berry is that it contains omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9 – jackpot!! The omega 7 is the interesting one, palmitoleic acid, in which Sea Buckthorn is exceptionally rich. Palmitoleic acid is rerely found in plants so this is a rare quality possessed by Sea Buckthorn. As if that was not enough, sea buckthorn is also rich in natural antioxidants (tocopherols, tocotrienols, carotenoids) and plant sterols.

What are the benefits of Sea Buckthorn Oil?

This may sound good so far, but why should we get excited about omega 7?

Omega 7 may help to maintain the natural lubrication of mucous membranes of the vaginal tract during the menopause. Its soothing action may help maintain natural lubrication of mucous membranes not only in the vaginal tract but also in the mouth, eyes and digestive tract.  Like skin, mucus plays an important part in protecting the internal organs. Mucous membranes line much of our internal systems and mucous can be a route into our bodies for harmful substances and bacteria, so healthy and strong mucous membranes are important for general health. Sea Buckthorn oil is said to be good for mouth ulcers too though I have never tried it.

Why should we get excited about antioxidants and plant sterols?

The antioxidants in sea buckthorn oil help prevent free radical damage to cell membranes. Free radical damage is the damage to our systems by waste products in our bodies which are produced by oxidation, yes just breathing. Our breathing and general existence produces bi-products which “attack and age” our bodies. Anti-oxidants help to subdue the wear and tear we experience through this oxidation so they are a valuable nutrient to include in our diets.

What about the plant sterols found in Sea Buckthorn Oil, is that of any benefit? Yes,  plant sterols are known to be of benefit to cholesterol management and our metabolism.

Where can I buy Sea Buckthorn Oil?

Pharma Nord Sea Buckthorn oil comes in both 60 vege caps and 150 vege caps sizes and is also present in the Higher Nature Essential Omegas mix of omegas 3,6,7,9 available in 30 caps, 90 caps and 180 caps.


Trans fats – ban them.

Trans fats are the fats formed from partially hydrogenated oils are damaging to our health, they are present whenever you see those daunting words “hydrogenated fat” on the label. Damaging to our health? Yes they have been strongly linked to strokes, cardio health issues and high cholesterol, and some fear that they may promote infertility. From a food manufacturers point of view they are a cheap food, and although they have no nutritional benefits they do add bulk and texture and may make the product last a little longer.

However enough is enough according to some of our leading doctors who are demanding a ban on hydrogenated fats which are added to 1000s of processed foods including  biscuits, cakes, ready-meals & margarine. The UK Faculty of Public Health is urging government ministers to eradicate these man made transfats from the UK diet. The plea for such a radical move is also supported by Royal Society for Public Health. The Faculty of Public Health represents 3,300 NHS doctors and health specialists plus local government.

‘Chemically-altered oils are used to bulk up foods and extend shelf-life. They have no nutritional value,  raise cholesterol and the likelihood of  heart attacks and strokes. The Royal College of GPs said ‘The evidence is indisputable…’
Hydrogenated fats are made by treating vegetable oils with hydrogen which turns oil into a hard artery-blocking fat.

7 out of 10 people over 45 have high cholesterol

All Cholesterol is not equal

Cholesterol cannot disolve but is carried around our blood stream by lipoproteins, it is these lipids which determine wheather the cholesterol is good or bad.  We know that not all cholesterol is equal, and to make it clear, in cholesterol terms LDL (low-density lipoprotein) is bad and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) is good cholesterol.  So if you are suffering from high cholesterol levels (Hypercholesterolemia) in your blood it is the LDL’s you want to reduce.

Lets look at the goodies first –  HDL. Just over a quarter of blood cholesterol is carried around our blood stream by high-density lipoprotein. High levels of HDL seem to protect against heart attack, whereas low levels of HDL (less than 40 mg/dL) also increase the risk of heart disease. Medical experts think that HDL tends to carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it’s passed from the body. Some experts believe that HDL removes excess cholesterol from arterial plaque which in turn slows its buildup. I think we will all agree that that does sound good.

On the other hand –   LDL carries cholesterol in the blood, depositing it on the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances, it can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can narrow the arteries and make them less flexible. This condition is known as atherosclerosis. If a clot forms and blocks a narrowed artery, heart attack or stroke can result.

So how can we reduce LDL?

What you eat can have a significant effect on your cholesterol levels.  There are 5 main food groups that have been identified as being able to help reduce LDL cholesterol.  These are Oatbran or other soluble fibre, walnuts and almonds, oily fish with omega-3’s and plant sterols.  The first 4 are often mentioned so I wanted to tell a little more about plant sterols.

Plant Sterols may lower bad cholesterol by as much as 9%

Phytosterols may lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by as much as 9%, according to a new study reported on by Dr Jane Hart.

Such plant sterols or phytosterols are naturally found in some vegetable oils, fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables, but in such small amounts that it would be difficult to get the sterols you need to reduce your LDL cholesterol just from a normal balanced diet. In fact it would take about 100 pounds of fruits, vegetables or nuts to get 2 grams of natural plant sterols. So some large margerine and dairy drinks manufacturers have added plant sterols to their wares.  This is commendable and does go some way to answering the problem but such foods containing at least 0.4 grams per serving of plant sterols would need to be eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 0.8 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol,and that may well reduce the risk of heart disease.

Another way to make sure you get enough phytosterols often enought and consistently enough to make a difference is to take them as a food supplement.

Lestrin

walnuts
walnuts

– a food supplement containg Beta-sitosteral a naturally cocurring plant substance.. Lestrin delivers plant sterols in a unique tablet form, meanig you do not have to uptake your diary intake to contribute to your sterols intake. Lestrin contains free sterols as opposed to chemically changed sterols and is suitable for vegetarians. Whereas most dairy products on offer with sterols contain  chemically changed sterols which have been shown to be less effective than ‘free’ sterols. Not only do plant sterols reduce LDL levels but also increase HDL levels and so bring relevant imporrovements in health.

Lestrin definitely offers an easier way to control cholesterol levels without having to uptake intake of certain food groups and maintain these changes long term.

By lowering chelesterol levels, improvements in health are attained and heart protecion offered for the future.

Read more about lowering cholesterol