Three heart health foods (and how to use them)
Posted on 10 September 2015
Are you looking for healthier ways to prepare your food? Jandri Barnard, a dietitian at Mediclinic Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal, identifies three small ingredients that make a huge different to the health of your heart.
Heart health food #1: oils
Oils? Healthy? Stick with us for a minute here. Look, not even a Masterchef finalist can really cook food straight on a pan. You need a little help… and, for most people, that means you need a little oil. But instead of go-to options like sunflower oil and olive oil, Jandri recommends trying canola oil instead. ‘You’d use that when you’re cooking a stirfry, or stews or curries,’ she says. ‘And here you’re also looking at it budget-wise, because canola oil is more affordable than other oils. The secret is making sure you use the right amount.’ For canola oil, the ‘right amount’ is about a tablespoon in a large pot or pan. ‘Just enough to cover the bottom,’ says Jandri. ‘You don’t want to go filling half the pot with oil! Sometimes people think, Okay, the dietician said I can use this oil, because it’s heart-healthy… And then they go and use a whole lot more than they should.’
Heart health food #2: fats
You could spend all day arguing the merits of the Banting diet, with its low-carb/high-fat formula. The bottom line, as far as Jandri is concerned, is that you should cut the fat off your meat when you eat it. Bacon, of course, is the exception. ‘Bacon’s a bit more difficult than a steak,’ she says. ‘With some bacon cuts, if you cut off the fat after you’ve cooked it, you’d have nothing left! So here I’d recommend cooking the bacon with its fat – just don’t add any extra oil into the pan. You’ve got your bacon fat, so that’s going to do the oil’s job.’
Heart health food #3: butter and marge
Jandri recommends avoiding things like butter and brick margarines… although, let’s face it: you can’t be a master pastry chef without having a naughty stash of the yellow stuff in your fridge. ‘If you’re looking for something to spread on bread, I’d recommend a light margarine,’ says Jandri. ‘Products like Pro-Active are very good for lowering your cholesterol, but there again you have to do it correctly. People often forget that you need to take 15 grams of it every day – that’s about a tablespoon – so they end up spreading it thinly, and they don’t get the benefits. I usually recommend products like Pro-Active for people who love butter or marge, but who need to lower their cholesterol.’
The information provided in this article was correct at the time of publishing. At Mediclinic we endeavour to provide our patients and readers with accurate and reliable information, which is why we continually review and update our content. However, due to the dynamic nature of clinical information and medicine, some information may from time to time become outdated prior to revision.