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General Recipe

Tips for Buying the Best Oil for Better Heart Health

The one universal ingredient that is used commonly across almost every dish is cooking oil. It’s a staple that you will find in any household. But the question we need to ask ourselves is whether we’re really giving a thought to what kind of heart-healthy oil we’re adding to our diet?

The type of oil you cook with becomes the foundation of every meal you eat, and we need to constantly remind ourselves that cooking oil greatly impacts heart health. There are a variety of options available to you in the market, but how do you select the best oil for heart health? So if you’re wondering which oil is good for the heart, let’s understand some important factors to consider when choosing heart-healthy oils. Since edible oils contain fatty acids, and these saturated and unsaturated fatty acids impact our heart health, let us understand these fatty acids. 

Understanding Fatty Acids:

  • Saturated Fatty Acids: A fatty acid is when every carbon atom is connected to a hydrogen atom in the hydrocarbon chain. The more hydrogen bonding, the more the saturation since carbon atoms are saturated with hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats do not have double bondsThese are fats that are typically solid at room temperature, due to which they are often also referred to as “solid fats”. Saturated fats increase LDL or bad cholesterol which can lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. It is found in foods such as cheese, butter, palm oil, poultry with skin, pork, beef, and other red meats.

 

  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFAs): Chemically, MUFAs are fatty acids with one unsaturated double bond. These are a healthy class of fats typically found in plant or seed-based oils such as olive, sunflower, soybean, and nuts such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts. Monounsaturated fats contain properties that can aid heart healthReplacing saturated fats with MUFAs help by lowering LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, Total: HDL ratio and hence reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs): PUFAs contain two or more double bonds. These are other healthy types of fats that provide essential fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are critical for brain function and cell growth. Polyunsaturated fats play a significant role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 PUFAs may protect against cardiovascular diseases through several mechanisms, including acting as an antiatherogenic agent, lowering triglycerides, slightly lowering blood pressure, and reducing inflammatory responses. Some foods containing this type of fat are walnuts, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, soybean oil, and fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout.
  • Trans Fats: These are a type of unsaturated fats and can be found in both natural and synthetic forms. Similar to saturated fats, when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil at the industrial level, this process solidifies the oil and can be harmful to your health. Trans fat is  harmful because it not only increases bad cholesterol but also reduces good cholesterol, becoming a direct pathway to heart problems. Foods containing trans fat include fried foods such as fries, some vegetable oils, vegetable shortening, and bakery items containing vegetable shortening such as muffins, cakes, and so on. Trans fat is an unhealthy fat and should be avoided as much as possible. 

The fatty acids are important to be consumed and perform different functions in oils and in the body. A balance between them is hence important. According to the American Heart Association, an ideal ratio of SFA:MUFA: PUFA is 1:1:1/1:1.3:1. Most single seed oils are either rich in MUFA or PUFA. Choose blended cooking oils, that have a blend of two oils to get a good balance of these fatty acids that help get better nutrition and heart health.

Check The Smoke Point of The Cooking Oil

Smoke point or burning point refers to the point at which oil stops smoking and a high smoke point is always more desirable because overheating can release harmful toxins, causing the oil to lose all of its nutritional value. Blended oils are the best oil for the heart as they tend to have a higher smoke point since it is a good blend of SFA:MUFA: PUFA which contain saturated fats that have a higher smoke point, so you can use them for different styles of cooking like frying, and baking without worry. 

Why Blended Cooking Oil is Better Than Regular Cooking Oil

So, what is blended oil and why is it beneficial? Blended oils mix MUFAs and PUFAs into a single heart-healthy oil, providing a rich supply of both fatty acids which are highly beneficial for heart health.Because blended oils have a high smoke point, they may be used in a wide range of dishes and cuisines. They also have a neutral flavour, so you don’t have to worry about the oil affecting the taste of your food; their flavour is hardly detectable, allowing the other elements in your meal to shine!   A popular choice for blended cooking oil in India is Saffola Gold which is one of the best cooking oils for heart health. A low cholesterol oil that is a combination of rice bran and sunflower oil, to keep your heart health in check. To have a more detailed understanding of the benefits of blended cooking oil, read our blog “What are Blended Cooking Oils & Why They’re Good For You”.

 

References: 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4593072/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955571/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875103/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719153/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23527564/ 

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4990724/

Categories
General Recipe

What Causes High Blood Pressure and How to Control It?

“Blood pressure”, is a term we hear rather often in our day-to-day lives. But do we know what it really means? It is not something that should be taken lightly. High blood pressure can have a severe impact on your heart health. So, it’s important that we have a deeper understanding of what exactly it means and how it can affect heart health.

What is Blood Pressure?

The heart pumps out blood to the rest of the body that is carried through the arteries. When this happens, there is also a certain amount of force that the blood exerts on the walls of the arteries, which is known as blood pressure. Blood pressure has two measuring components to it — systolic blood pressure is the pressure your heart is exerting against the artery wall while your heart is beating and diastolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted while your heart is resting. It’s normal for blood pressure to vary throughout the day. Blood pressure  120/80 mmHg is considered normal, where 120 indicates systolic blood pressure and 80 reads for diastolic. A reading higher than 140/90 mmHg is considered to be high blood pressure, also called “hypertension”. Hypertension over time can lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke, and this is why it’s important to keep blood pressure regulated. 

There are typically no noticeable symptoms of high blood pressure, therefore, regular checkups would be advisable.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

There are different ways that one can become susceptible to hypertension: 

  • Weight Gain/Obesity 

As you gain weight, your tendency to develop high blood pressure also increases. This occurs when adipocytes release the hormone leptin which triggers the sympathetic nervous system directly impacting the kidneys resulting in sodium reabsorption and in turn increases blood pressure.  

  •  An unhealthy Diet 

Foods that increase cholesterol have a direct effect on increased blood pressure. This happens when excessive cholesterol is left behind as deposits in the arteries that clog the pathway and cause narrowing of the arteries, making it more difficult to pump blood. Some common food items that can increase cholesterol are red meat, full-fat dairy, processed foods, deep-fried, and fast food.

  • Diabetes 

People with diabetes are at greater risk, which means they need to consume the right kinds of food to keep their blood pressure in check. Diabetes and Hypertension frequently occur together and can often cause complications like damage to the arteries due to plaque build-up called atherosclerosis, heart attack or stroke. 

  • Unhealthy Lifestyle 

A sedentary lifestyle with a lack of physical activity contributes to hypertension. Other lifestyle factors, such as the consumption of alcohol and smoking, play a significant role as well. Also, the fast-paced lifestyle that we are living nowadays is rather strenuous and leads to greater stress levels, which also affects blood pressure.

Complications of High Blood Pressure

Negative effects of high blood pressure can result in several cardiovascular complications: 

  • Heart Attack 

High blood pressure damages arteries that can become blocked and prevent blood flow to the heart muscle. Additionally, there can also be the accumulation of fat built up from cholesterol. This fat or “plaque” in turn leads to the creation of clots that block blood flow streaming between the heart and body, and consequently, oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a heart attack.

  • Stroke 

A stroke occurs when insufficient blood is supplied to the brain. The intense pressure on the arteries can considerably rupture them. When this happens, it damages your arteries and their ability to pump blood to the brain, i.e. the organ of your body that is responsible for your overall functioning. 

  • Chronic Kidney Disease

High blood pressure can result in Chronic Kidney Disease. When this happens, kidneys become damaged and can’t filter blood efficiently. The kidney is an important organ that flushes out toxins and removes excess fluids from your body. When kidney function deteriorates due to damage, the inability of the kidneys to eliminate toxins and regulate excessive fluid can lead to cardiovascular complications.

High Blood Pressure Prevention and Treatment

There are proven ways how to control high blood pressure with easy steps one can take to curb or reduce it:

  • Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps to manage your weight and maintain it. Exercising is a scientifically validated method to reduce high blood pressure and prevent hypertension. Walking/running,  swimming,  dancing, or even weight training – choose the type of exercise that suits you best and can be beneficial for blood pressure management

  • Eat Healthy

Aim to include more heart-healthy foods in your diet that limit the increase of cholesterol. This includes whole foods or unprocessed foods, as opposed to processed foods that are high in saturated fats and raise bad cholesterol. It also makes a difference to use heart-healthy blended cooking oils such as Saffola Gold that can help manage cholesterol.  Read more about the difference between good and bad cholesterol. Reduce your sugar intake, especially if you are at risk of/diagnosed with diabetes.

  • Make Lifestyle Changes

Incorporating a workout routine, limiting alcohol intake, and cutting out smoking are all lifestyle changes you can make for a healthier life. When talking about how to control blood pressure, it is also equally important to cope with stress to avoid health complications. Meditation can help soothe your mind which then manifests as physiological changes within the body. 

Now that we’ve learned all that we need to know about the impact of hypertension, and how to control and manage blood pressure, it’s in our best interest to be more mindful of the factors that play a role in its development. Just a few easy modifications can lead to a much healthier heart, and therefore, a healthier life!

 

 

References: 

https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31865786/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31764589/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3075799/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3314178/ 

https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/20/11/1156/199192 

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/01.HYP.4.5_Pt_2.III143 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9894438/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6422950/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10758809/ 

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.117.002218 

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/circresaha.116.305697 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7922186/# 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32155866/# 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27887750/#

Categories
General Recipe

Healthy Recipes To Try This Valentines for Your Loved Ones

Although we don’t need any specific day to tell someone we love them, the idea of having a day dedicated to love is something to celebrate. Valentine’s is that time of the year when we want to express to the people we love most that they’re important to us. We want to make our appreciation for them known because they are a big part of our life. 

When you love someone, you care about them deeply, including their health. On this day of love symbolised by hearts, we’re bringing you a few simple Valentine’s Day recipes that will help you make your way into that special someone’s heart and are also quite literally, better for the heart. 

Creamy Tomato Risotto

Nutrient Metre: Tomatoes may reduce bad cholesterol and contain antioxidant properties that help keep heart health in check. Red is for love and health both, with this Valentine’s Day recipe.

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 400g fresh tomato, sliced 
  • 300g cherry tomato, halves
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 rosemary sprig, finely sliced 
  • small pack basil, shredded
  • 1 litre vegetable stock 
  • 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold oil

Preparation: 

  • In a food processor, empty the chopped tomatoes and half of the vegetable stock. Grind until smooth. 
  • Pour the mixture into a cooking pan along with the remaining vegetable stock and let it simmer on low heat. 
  • In a separate pan, drizzle Saffola Gold oil and let it simmer. 
  • Add onions and slowly cook for a few minutes until soft. 
  • Sprinkle in the garlic and rosemary and let it sit for 1 minute. 
  • Next, add the rice and stir everything together for 1 minute.
  • Gradually, add the vegetable stock and tomato mixture in small portions — one quarter at a time. 
  • Allow the risotto to cook while stirring in intervals and adding more stock as it keeps getting absorbed. 
  • Once half of the stock and tomato mixture is added, add the cherry tomatoes. 
  • Wait for 20-25 minutes until the cherry tomatoes and rice become soft and creamy and all of the stock is absorbed completely.
  • Set aside with a lid for 1 minute and stir in the basil. 
  • Garnish with Parmesan, black pepper, and salt to taste, and serve hot. A healthy, creamy treat for your tastebuds.


Vegan Cheesecake

Nutrient Metre: Nuts help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, resulting in better cardiovascular health. Oats help manage cholesterol and help with type 2 diabetes. It’s one of those healthy dessert recipes that doesn’t have to “taste” healthy, while also being a great option in vegan desserts.

Serves: 8 people

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup nuts or seeds of choice
  • 1 cup oats
  • 20 small dates 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • ½ tbsp Saffola Gold oil 
  • ⅔ cup cashews 
  • 1 cup coconut milk 
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1 ½ tsp agar powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp beetroot powder

Preparation: 

  • In a pan, soak the cashews in hot water for an hour or let them boil for approximately 15 minutes. 
  • For the cheesecake crust, take the nuts, seeds, oats, dates, vanilla extract, and Saffola Gold oil and put them in a food processor. Blend until the mixture binds together. 
  • In a separate 6-inch baking tin, flatten the dough mixture onto the bottom and roll up the dough to the circular edges of the tin. Set aside in the refrigerator to cool.
  • Now, take the cashews, coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and beetroot powder. Churn on high speed in a blender for about 1-2 minutes until smooth. 
  • Then, in a small pan, add the agar powder and 1/4th cup of water and let it simmer for 2 minutes while stirring. 
  • Pour the agar mixture into the blender preparation and churn again for a few seconds. 
  • Bring out the baking tin from the refrigerator and empty the blender onto the dough. Refrigerate once again until set. 
  • Serve cold and savour this vegan cheesecake delight. 

Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Nutrient Metre:  

Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can help in improving heart health. Strawberries decrease oxidative stress which can cause cell damage and thus, improve cardiovascular health. Healthy sweets and taste can go hand in hand with this choice of healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups Oat flour 
  • 10-12 strawberries, mashed 
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips 
  • 60 ml milk 
  • 1/3rd cup Saffola honey 
  • 1/4th cup Saffola Gold oil
  • Flax egg (vegetarian):
    • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed (blended flaxseeds)
    • 3 tbsp water

Preparation: 

  • Preheat the oven to 175°C. 
  • In a small bowl, combine the ground flaxseeds with 3 tbsp water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. This then forms a flax egg with a gelatinous consistency, similar to egg whites. 
  • Take the strawberries.  Wash and slice them. Once finely sliced, gently mash them with your fingers. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the remaining ingredients – oat flour, dark chocolate chips, milk, Saffola honey and Saffola Gold oil. Mix everything together. 
  • Now, add the flax egg and fold in the strawberries into this mixture containing all other ingredients. 
  • Take a baking sheet and grease with Saffola Gold oil. 
  • Pull apart the dough from the prepared mixture and roll them up into evenly sized balls. Place them on the baking sheet and press down slightly with your palm.

Note: The dough can also be shaped into little hearts using a cookie cutter. 

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, remove and set aside to cool completely. 
  • Serve with warm milk and enjoy your chocolate oat cookies. 

Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Nutrient Metre: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help lower the risk of heart diseases.

Strawberries decrease oxidative stress which can cause cell damage and thus, improve cardiovascular health. It makes for a great, simple choice of healthy dessert.

Serves: 5 people

Ingredients: 

  • 400g strawberries
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 30g white and milk chocolate, chopped

Preparation: 

  • In a small pan, fill up some water up to 2cm and let it simmer. 
  • Take the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Then place the bowl on top of the water pan, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water.
  • Gently stir the chocolate as it melts gradually. Once done, set aside in a small, deep bowl. 
  • Now, pick up the strawberries, insert into a small stick, and slowly dip into the chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip. 
  • Take a piece of baking paper and set the strawberries on it to rest. 

Note: Leftover chocolate can be poured onto another baking sheet for later use. 

  • To decorate the strawberries with hearts or other patterns, melt the white and milk chocolate and drizzle lightly over the fruit into shapes of your liking. 
  • Dive in and relish the goodness. 

Surprise the special people in your life with this delicious yet healthy Valentine’s menu to spread the love and good health!

References: 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12587984/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17427261/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29800597/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25267241/ 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/287403077_The_Metabolic_Effects_of_Oats_Intake_in_Patients_with_Type_2_Diabetes_A_Systematic_Review_and_Meta-Analysis 

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.116.005162 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20384847/ 

Categories
Recipe

How Men Can Prevent Premature Heart Diseases

The rising number of cardiovascular disorders has become a concern in Indian society. What is even more concerning are the increasing episodes seen in the younger age group. Unfortunately, almost 52 per cent of people get a heart attack before the age of 50. Known as premature heart attack, it affects men more than womenResearch shows that it is partly due to our genetic disposition that Indians have narrower coronary arteries. Although genetics play a role in determining one’s cardiovascular health, the lifestyle choices can actually make a great deal of difference. Simple changes today can go a long way to care for your heart right now and in the future.

 

Let us look at precautionary measures that men can take to avoid premature heart diseases.

Manage Your Stress

Mental and physical stress have increased in today’s time. It’s possible your everyday life is so hectic that finding even 10 minutes of peace might sound impossible. Workplaces have become highly competitive and demanding. You have to prove your worth constantly to bag your next promotion. By the time men reach their forties, they have to deal with the added pressure of changes – from having to constantly adapt to the new technology as well as the changing dynamics at their workplace and in their personal life .

 

Studies show that mental stress is one of the primary reasons for heart diseases. There are a few things you can do for your mental well-being. The easiest is to switch off for a few minutes from the external world daily. You can call it your me-time, and it should be the slot you spend with your thoughts. If there are any worries, try to manage them through stress-management techniques. It is easier said than done, but meditation can help you find that path. You can also practise mindfulness meditation, as research has shown it can significantly improve mental well-being.

As social media usage also grows, it is impacting real-life relationships, increasing the feelings of loneliness. This can lead to depression which research shows puts you at a greater risk for coronary heart disease. If you feel yourself being impacted by the same, try to cut back on the time you spent online and spend more time with your loved ones away from the screen. As the awareness of mental health is on the rise in India, you also have more options to seek care. It is advisable to consult a certified medical professional and seek counselling for your mental health.

Get More Exercise 

Physical activity is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to your heart. It makes your heart stronger, lowers blood pressure, and keeps your weight in check. It slows your resting heart rate, which means it has to work lesser to pump blood to other parts of your body.

Studies show that being overweight is also closely linked to heart health. Exercise will help you reach your optimal body weight. Finally, working out also releases feel-good hormones in your body, which can lower your stress. 

Eat a Balanced Diet

Food holds an important place in our life. It is something that people enjoy and try to find comfort in when they feel low. The last few decades have seen an increase in the availability of processed and junk food which is low in quality. Previously the food eaten daily would have been locally sourced and cooked at home and provide balanced nutrition. Now, there are shelves lined with processed foods in the markets and dining out at fast food joints has become more common. Although these foods taste good, they are often loaded with salt and sugar which negatively impact your heart and your overall health.

Excessive amounts of salt is a leading cause of hypertension and excessive sugar can be a concern if you have a family history of diabetes. Research shows that high blood pressure and diabetes can increase the probability of stroke.

To follow a healthy diet, have a balanced meal that includes all food groups. Include fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat dairy products. Another useful tip to keep your heart healthy is to use healthy edible oil. Using blended oils is one of the best ways to add a super dose of nutrition to your home-cooked meal. Blended oils are heart-healthy oils that are a combination of two oils and provide a more balanced intake of good fats. Saffola Gold is one such healthy blended oil with the goodness of rice bran oil and sunflower oil. Including it in your diet will enhance the nutrient quotient of your food.

Avoid Tobacco and Alcohol

According to studies, India has a high number of tobacco consumers and a majority of smokers were found to be men. Smoking tobacco can have a negative impact on your health in a variety of ways. Over the years, tobacco use is becoming less common but it is still one of the leading causes of potentially preventable health concerns. Research has shown that people who smoke have a higher likelihood of a heart attack, high blood pressure, blood clots, etc. Cigarette smoke has a dangerously high level of carbon monoxide. It prevents the heart from receiving the appropriate amount of oxygen for proper functioning. 

Similarly, long-term abuse of alcohol can weaken the heart muscle and impair its ability to pump blood.  In India, alcohol consumption is more common among men compared to women, varying from 23% to 74% in different areas. One needs to be wary of overconsumption of alcohol, as it can lead to serious  liver and heart problems. 

In the last couple of years, the prevalence of premature heart diseases has increased. Men are more susceptible because of risk factors in their lifestyles which often get ignored. By following the suggestions given above, you keep your heart healthier and reduce the chances of developing diseases. 

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1993956/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16169359/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27751732/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29946209/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31685171/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27757935/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29459239/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18983332/ 

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0247226 

https://www.nhp.gov.in/healthlyliving/alcohol-use-disorder 

http://indianmhs.nimhans.ac.in/nmhs-results.php 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28808498/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28057245/