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What Makes a Cooking Oil Heart Healthy?

Every Indian household has its own take on food depending on personal and regional preferences. One of the most important ingredients available in all houses for all cuisines is cooking oil. It is the most commonly used ingredient in cooking and we almost never give a second thought to understanding how to choose the right oil for overall and heart health

It is important to choose the best cooking oil for heart health as the heart is among the most vital organs in the body. Making sure your heart is strong and healthy can help you lead a healthy life away from high cholesterol, high blood pressure and any other heart diseases. Even though the fat present in the oil performs important functions like providing your body with energy, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and organ protection and insulation, excess of the ‘bad’ kind of oil and in turn fat can lead to high cholesterol levels and affect heart health. 

So here’s us telling you what makes a cooking oil heart-healthy, and how you can choose the right one!

Factors that Make a Cooking Oil Good for Heart Health

1. A good balance of Monounsaturated fatty acids and Polyunsaturated fatty acids: 

The most heart-healthy cooking oils are those that contain a good balance of monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which can help reduce the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol in your blood and increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol in the blood. LDL cholesterol is also known as bad cholesterol since it causes plaque formation in the arteries. On the other hand, HDL cholesterol is known as good cholesterol since it carries the bad cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, from where it is flushed out. Here is the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol in greater detail.

Heart-healthy fats can be found in nuts and seeds like peanuts, walnuts,  flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, avocados, fatty fish, etc. Oil is a predominant source of fat and you should choose a healthy oil for cooking, which can help lower LDL cholesterol.  Saffola Gold’s dual-seed technology is a blend of two oils which helps you achieve a good balance of healthy fatty acids like MUFA and PUFA for better nutrition. It also contains oryzanol which helps manage your cholesterol levels. Its Triple-Antioxidant system makes it one of the best cooking oils for heart health. 

2. Low levels of saturated and trans fats

Oils from animal-based fat products such as butter, lard, animal fat, full-fat dairy, and plant-based fat products like tropical oils (palm, palm kernel), and fully hydrogenated oils, all contain trans fat and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids play key roles in the body, however, excess of saturated fats can increase total cholesterol levels, including the more harmful, LDL cholesterol and should hence be consumed in moderation. On the other hand, trans fat is completely harmful because it not only increases the LDL cholesterol but also decreases the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), hence, trans-fats should be completely avoided. 

High levels of LDL cholesterol in your blood increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choosing a blended oil like Saffola Gold which contains a good balance of unsaturated fats – MUFA and PUFA can help in maintaining a healthy heart.

3. Rich in antioxidants: 

Free radicals are unstable compounds in the body that are caused by exposure to toxins, alcohol, smoking, etc. Antioxidants are chemical compounds that help fight free radicals. Oxidative damage occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants which can lead to various diseases.  Hence, antioxidants available in foods and oils can help protect us from damage. (Source)

Using a cooking oil that is enriched with antioxidants is a great way to reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health. A blended oil like Saffola Gold has the power of natural antioxidants and is fortified with nutrients such as Vitamin A & D that also possess antioxidant properties. It is a blend of refined rice bran oil and refined sunflower oil and this combination gives you the benefits of both, making it one of the best cooking oil for everyday use.

4. High smoke point: 

Simply put, the smoke point is the temperature at which cooking oils begins to smoke.. This can cause the oil to deteriorate and produce harmful chemicals and free radicals. In the body, free radicals can damage cells and cause inflammation, and prolonged inflammation can lead to chronic diseases. Deterioration of oil can also affect the taste of the food. When cooking foods that require high-temperature cooking such as deep frying, high smoke point oil should be used. Whereas low smoke point oils should only be used as dressings on salads. Therefore, you must go for oils that have a high smoking point when cooking at high temperatures that  can sustain their nutrients.

To summarise, your heart is one of the most important organs within your body, which has the responsibility of keeping you alive. That’s why it is up to you to make the right choice for your health and start cooking your meals with the right heart-healthy cooking oils that help make your dishes tastier and healthier.

Check out this blog for more tips on how to choose the right cooking oil.

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Stress and Heart Health: How the Mind and Heart Work Together as One

It goes without saying that we live a stressful life. But are we effectively managing our stress? Feeling stressed all the time can also result in heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pain, or irregular heartbeats. And if you’re dealing with stress in unhealthy ways, such as smoking, overeating, or alcohol consumption – that makes matters worse! While stress is inevitable in our lives, what we do about it can make all the difference to our health and heart. 

While a healthy diet and exercise can improve heart health, managing stress and keeping our mental health in check can also contribute to a healthy heart. So, let’s look at the causes of stress and the strong link between stress and heart health. 

Stress: How the mind affects the heart

Any change that creates physical, emotional, or psychological strain can result in a stressful condition. Stress is a feeling of physical and emotional tension caused by the reaction of your body and mind to a threat or a challenge. 

Stress can raise inflammation in the body, which is connected to factors that might negatively impact  your heart, such as increased blood pressure and lowering “good” HDL cholesterol.

Stress can be of two types depending on the causative factors and these are called acute stress and chronic stress.

Acute stress is when you experience stress for a short period of time – for example, an argument with someone, a dog barking at you, or being stuck in a traffic jam. Our body is built to swiftly recover from short-term stress. For a brief time, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and muscular tension levels may all soar. You recover to normal levels/calm down once the cause is eliminated. 

Chronic stress is when you’re experiencing high-stress levels for a long period of time. It is usually caused by long-term problems such as financial worry, unhappy marriages, or career issues. Chronic stress raises your resting heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and muscular tension over time, requiring your body to work even more at rest to keep you functioning normally. Chronic stress occurring over a long time can lead to health problems in the future. 

Heart diseases caused by stress

While a certain amount of stress is beneficial to your health, chronically high-stress levels might increase your risk of severe heart conditions. When you’re stressed, you’re more likely to smoke, consume alcohol, or eat meals heavy in salt, sugar, and fat, all of which are unhealthy for your heart.

Here are the effects of high stress on your heart: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased inflammation in your body
  • Increased cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood
  • Irregular heart rate and rhythm
  • Reduced blood flow to the heart

There is, however, some good news! Even though stress can contribute to heart disease, there are a few lifestyle choices that can help you live a longer and healthier life.

Overcoming stress and improving heart health together

You don’t want to turn a blind eye to your stress. Instead, you must concentrate on managing or strengthening resilience in the face of unavoidable stress.

So, if you’re wondering how to control stress, here are some tips! 

  • Exercise, exercise, exercise!

We cannot “stress” this enough. Working out is one of the best ways to reduce stress levels andit also keeps your heart healthy! Working out releases happy hormones that can have stress-busting benefits. The workout can be of your choice including hitting the gym, swimming, yoga, cardio or weight training. However, a simple walk in nature can also do wonders for you!

  • Practising Meditation 

 Meditation can help you have a healthier heart. Practising meditation for just 10 minutes can improve heart rate, decrease stress, lower blood pressure and calm your body and mind.

  • Taking a well-deserved break 

Stress can build up in your body if you don’t address it. Take a break from your busy schedule and spend time with friends and family or even indulge in a hobby. Letting loose once in a while will give your body an opportunity to reset, repair, and cope with the stressors of daily life.

  • Changing your diet 

As per research, “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.” An unhealthy diet consisting of high amounts of sodium, sugar and fat will increase inflammation which is unhealthy for your heart.

When choosing ingredients to maintain a healthy diet it is important to understand the consequences on your body. 

For example, the kind of cooking oil you use can have a significant impact on your overall health. You can opt for a cooking oil like Saffola Gold which has a good balance of MUFA and PUFA which are healthy fats required for better nutrition. Additionally, it is rich in antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy. Practising stress management is good for your heart and overall health. 

We hope these tips can help you on your journey to a stress-free life! That being said, if you find it difficult to manage your stress, do consult a doctor and get professional advice.

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4 Heart-Healthy Christmas Recipes 2022

Christmas is indeed the most wonderful time of the year. It calls for some quality time with friends and family, while indulging in some delicious comfort foods and tasty treats. But do you often feel guilty indulging in your favourite Christmas foods during the holiday season?  Would you want to enjoy your favourite festive feasts guilt-free? Don’t worry, we’ve got you! 

Finding the right balance between tasty and healthy is possible. We can make yummy dishes that are good for us and our hearts by using heart-friendly ingredients in our recipes. How about making this holiday season the time we start our heart-healthy Christmas diet

We present to you 4 heart-healthy Christmas recipes so that you can have yourself a truly merry holiday season. 

1. Sweet Potato Crostini 

Ingredients

Base: 

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold Oil
  • Use salt as per taste
  • 1 tbsp paprika

Stuffing 

  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red onion 
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning ( basil, rosemary, thyme)
  • 1 tsp like Saffola Gold Oil

Instructions: 

  • Slice strips of the sweet potato into ½-inch thickness.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of Saffola Gold Oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Shallow fry the strips on each side until they are crispy and golden brown in colour. 
  • Once done, place the strips on a tray and sprinkle salt and paprika on it. 
  • Prepare salsa by chopping and dicing the avocado, tomatoes & onion.
  • Combine them in a bowl with the Italian dressing and 2 tsp of Saffola Gold Oil 
  • Top the strips with a generous amount of the salsa before serving. 

Heart Health Meter:  Sweet potato contains antioxidants that can help keep your heart healthy. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats that help lower the levels ofLDL cholesterol  (bad cholesterol) and keep your heart healthy. The sweet potato crostini is a twist on the classic bread crostini Christmas recipe.  

2. Italian stuffed mushroom

Ingredients 

  • 12 whole portobello mushrooms
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley 
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup low-fat cheese
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • Salt 
  • Black pepper 

Instructions: 

  • Wipe off any dirt from the mushroom with a clean cloth but do not wash them with water. 
  • Remove the stems from the mushrooms
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of Saffola Gold oil
  • Add in the chopped onions, garlic, and parsley with salt. Cook and sauté for about 5-7 minutes till soft.
  • In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180 ° C
  • In a bowl, combine the sauteed onion mixture with breadcrumbs, low-fat grated cheese, oregano, salt, and black pepper. 
  • Spread a little of Saffola Gold oil on the base of a baking dish and place the mushrooms on it
  • Fill the centre of the mushroom with the filling and bake it at 180 ° C for 10-15 minutes, till it turns darker.
  • Serve hot and garnish with cheese or parsley. 

Heart-health meter: Portobello mushrooms can help in lowering the risk of heart-related diseases. It is also rich in antioxidants and fibre but low in carbohydrates hence helping manage weight. Healthy Christmas snacks like the Italian stuffed mushrooms are going to be an instant hit at the Christmas party. 

3. Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Herbs 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole cauliflower
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup 
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 3 medium tomatoes (chopped into 4 quarters)
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold oil 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  • Preheat oven to 200° C.
  • Cut the leaves and trim the stem of the cauliflower and place it in a deep casserole dish
  • Blend the cilantro, cloves, lime, tomato ketchup, paprika, Saffola Gold cooking oil, salt, and pepper in a mixer grinder till a coarse paste is formed. 
  • Rub the marinade generously on the entire cauliflower head and add the tomato pieces to the casserole dish.
  • Bake the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes at 200° C.
  • Keep aside till cool 
  • Chop into desired thickness and serve with the roasted tomatoes. 

Heart health meter: Cauliflower is a rich source of antioxidants that reduces inflammation which can protect the heart. It also has fibre that keeps cholesterol at a healthy level. Tomatoes too arerich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. The Roasted Cauliflower is a healthy Christmas dinner recipe that is easy to prepare. 

4. Oatmeal Raisin cookies 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup rolled oats 
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup jaggery
  • ¼ cup Saffola Gold Oil 
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1-2 tbsp milk 

Instructions: 

  • Preheat the oven to 180° C. 
  • Line a baking sheet with a parchment sheet and apply a little of Saffola Gold oil.
  • In a wide bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, rolled oats, raisin, and baking soda
  • In another bowl whisk the jaggery and oil until the jaggery has mixed well and melted
  • Add this to the bowl with dry ingredients and mix well. Then add a tbsp of milk to form a cookie dough by binding it together.  
  • Using a cookie cutter, shape the cookies and place them over the tray. Bake the cookies at 150° C for 25 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Allow the cookies to cool and serve warm. You can also dunk it in milk to make a comfortable snack. 
  • You can then store them in an airtight jar for future delights. 

Heart health meter: Oats contain soluble fibres such as beta-glucan which help lower bad LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels and help in maintaining heart health. Raisins contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, potassium, and antioxidants — which may be beneficial to your heart. Oatmeal raisin cookies are tasty yet healthier Christmas cookies you can try. 

So here you have it! These heart-healthy Christmas recipes are definitely going to get your family closer and healthier this holiday season. To make your Christmas recipes even more delicious and nutritious, you can use Saffola Gold cooking oil which has antioxidants for better immunity and a good balance of MUFA and PUFA that can make your Christmas even more heart-healthy!

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5 Myths About Cholesterol You MUST Know

The word cholesterol is most commonly associated with heart-related issues. It has been synonymous with being bad for health, especially heart health. However, cholesterol is an important substance that the body requires to synthesise hormones, vitamin D and other digestive system substances. The body possesses the ability to synthesize its own cholesterol and hence, excess intake from foods can put you at risk for overall health. 

Cholesterol can be divided into different types, where LDL, VLDL and IDL are known as bad cholesterol and HDL is the good cholesterol. 

Despite being a crucial factor for good health, there are a number of myths floating around about cholesterol. Let’s learn the truth behind these cholesterol myths and understand the relationship between cholesterol and heart disease. 

Here are the 5 most common myths about Cholesterol:

Myth 1: All cholesterols are bad for health

Fact: Cholesterol is an essential component for performing various functions in the body. Cholesterol travels in the body as lipoproteins. Low-Density Lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol  is considered bad cholesterol and makes up the majority chunk of total cholesterol in the body. A high level of LDL cholesterol in the body (blood) can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. On the other hand, High-Density Lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol is the good cholesterol that carries the cholesterol to the liver, from where it is flushed out of the body. A high level of LDL cholesterol is a concern, but your doctor can suggest ways to control it. Ideal Total cholesterol: HDL (3.5:1) also is very important and  can help protect your heart. This is the basic difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol.

Myth 2: Symptoms of high blood cholesterol are easily detectable

Fact: Typically, high blood cholesterol has no symptoms or indicators. Unless you experience a heart attack or stroke, you might not be aware that you have high blood cholesterol. That is why you must get your blood profile examined at least once every five years.  

There might not be any definitive symptoms for high blood cholesterol, but unhealthy habits like smoking, over-consuming foods high in salt sugars and saturated fats, being obese or not getting enough exercise can contribute to having high blood cholesterol. 

Myth 3: Food is the only source of cholesterol

Fact: Your body naturally produces cholesterol as well. But the amount and type of fat you consume can impact your cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fat will make your cholesterol levels go higher. Foods such as red meat, butter, and cheese contain lots of saturated fat and cholesterol, so if you are trying to lower your cholesterol levels, the ICMR recommends keeping your SFA intake less than 8-10%.  Instead, you can choose foods with high fibre content such as oatmeal and beans, protein sources like soybean, legumes and healthy fats like avocado, seeds and nuts

A simple way to maintain normal cholesterol levels is to choose a cooking oil that can do the same! A blended edible oil like Saffola Total is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood.  It contains oryzanol which helps keep your cholesterol in check and makes it one of the best cooking oils for heart health.

Myth 4: High blood cholesterol levels do not affect women 

Fact: Another cholesterol myth is that high blood cholesterol is a man’s problem. The truth is irrespective of your sex, you should be concerned about high blood cholesterol levels. Even though cardiovascular disease affects women later in life post-menopause, CVD is also a leading cause of death among women. Symptoms of heart disease are different and oftentimes subtle in women, such as shortness of breath, shoulder and back pain, or constant fatigue. 

Myth 5: Only overweight people have high blood cholesterol

Fact: People with any body type can have high blood cholesterol levels. Being obese or overweight increases your chances of having high blood cholesterol levels, but being a normal weight doesn’t guarantee that you won’t face cholesterol issues. Individuals who don’t gain weight easily, are usually unaware of the amount of saturated and trans fats they consume. They could hence also be at risk of high blood cholesterol.  So, regardless of your weight, age, sex, and food choices, you must get your cholesterol levels checked regularly. 

To summarise, cholesterol plays an important role in overall health. That being said, you must not believe everything you hear about cholesterol, without fact-checking.  With the correct lifestyle and food choices, we can lower the risk of developing high cholesterol.

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7 Simple and Easy Ways to Improve your Heart Health

The heart is one of the most important organs of our body. It is such a vital organ and, not only does it keep the blood flowing through our body but also keeps the blood pressure under control. Heart health is something that you cannot afford to ignore if you wish to lead a healthy life away from high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and any other heart diseases.

But the minute you think about living a healthier life, you feel overwhelmed with all the major lifestyle changes you have to make to ensure you keep yourself far away from any heart-related issues. However, you can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and maintain your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels by just making simple lifestyle changes. 

Our recommended Healthy lifestyle changes can:

  • Help you maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels
  • Reduce the risk of heart diseases
  • Help you live a longer and healthier life

So, how to improve heart health? 

Here are 7 key steps to improve heart health naturally: 

  • Choose heart-healthy fats

Fats include fatty acids that can be categorized as saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are found in red meat and high-fat dairy products that in excess increase total and LDL cholesterol. This can lead to heart disease issues like plaque build-up in the arteries. On the other hand, unsaturated fatty acids like MUFAs and PUFAs are heart-healthy and might reduce LDL cholesterol and inflammation in the body. These heart-healthy fats can be found in vegetable oils, fatty fish, olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, etc. 

You should also choose a healthy oil for cooking, which can help lower LDL cholesterol. Saffola Gold’s dual-seed technology gives a good balance of healthy fatty acids like MUFA and PUFA for better nutrition through fats, unlike most single-seed oils. It also contains oryzanol which helps manage your cholesterol levels. It is one of the  best oils to use for cooking. 

  • Increase the intake of dietary fibre 

Being overweight and obese is linked to heart diseasesuch as high blood pressure. The fibre in the form of soluble and insoluble fibre has various health benefits. Fibre helps in providing satiety by adding bulk to the diet but it also has other specific benefits like cholesterol management and maintaining bowel health. Fibre-rich foods include whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables packed with other nutrients as well. These heart-healthy foods also help in weight management, lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. You can add high-fibre foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to your heart-healthy diet plan.

  • Sit less, move more:

According to the World Health Organization at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intense aerobic exercise per week should be done. Aerobic exercises like dancing, cycling, and cardio help improve cardiac output. Whereas, muscle-building activities such as weight lifting or using resistance bands can help you build strength and endurance and also improve. According to American Heart Association, even 10 minutes of moderate activity per day can be beneficial for health so a quick walk or jog can be heart-healthy compared to just sitting and doing nothing. If you have a desk job, take regular walk breaks throughout the day. Physical inactivity is linked to a greater risk of heart disease. So get moving!

  • Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption

Quitting smoking is another golden heart healthy tip you must follow. Breaking away from this habit of smoking can reduce the risk of heart disease. Passive smoking also leads to serious heart and lung problems, so if you have smokers around you, request them to not smoke around you or better still, quit smoking. 

Alcohol consumption in moderation is key. More than 3 drinks a day on a regular basis has been shown to increase your risk of high blood pressure. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for adults. 

  • Reduce the intake of sodium

The World Health Organization and ICMR recommend no more than 2000 mg/day of sodium equivalent to not more than 5g salt/day. Sodium is an essential nutrient for the body, however, excess sodium has been linked to adverse health outcomes. High sodium consumption and insufficient potassium intake contribute to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The more salt consumption is restricted, the greater the control over blood pressure levels. 

Make sure you read nutritional tables before purchasing chips, sauces, and marinades high in sodium. Most people consume too much salt, reducing table salt consumption and shifting to low sodium salts may be helpful. However, low-sodium salts should be consumed and checked for potassium salts by people on low-potassium diets. 

  • Manage stress

The mind-body connection has an effect on your cardiovascular health. If stress is a daily part of your life, then you are at a greater risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Create a strategy to manage stress better such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or prayer to de-stress. Reach out to loved ones to get the emotional support you need during stressful situations. 

  • Manage or control diabetes

Diabetes is a condition characterised primarily by high blood sugar levels. Since high blood sugar levels can increase inflammation in the body, diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease. In an Indian study of non-diabetic subjects with acute coronary syndrome, 46% had prediabetes, and 37% had diabetes. So the bottom line is, managing diabetes is elemental in keeping you away from heart disease.

Choosing healthy foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables that provide fibre, antioxidants, etc can be good to manage diabetes and heart health. Daily exercise and healthy eating, can greatly improve blood glucose levels, as well as help, shed excess body fat; a major risk factor for diabetes.

To summarise, your heart is one of the most important organs within your body, which has the responsibility of keeping you alive. Therefore it is your duty to take the best care possible of your heart by following these heart health tips on a daily basis. Slowly but surely you will see a significant change by adopting these heart-healthy habits on a regular basis.