Eat your way to a healthier heart. Omega 3 and 6 fats should be an integral part of our diet (because the body can’t make them) however it’s the balance of these essential fats that is crucial. Stone Age man would have consumed omega 6 and 3 fats in a ratio of 1:1; nowadays, this ratio can be as high as 25:1!
Firstly, it’s important to balance the fats in our diet. Saturated animal fats such as butter and ghee have often been demonised in our society but in moderation there is no correlation with increases in heart disease. The over-consumption of trans and hydrogenated fats, however, are to be avoided as these do clog your arteries and raise cholesterol. You can also damage oil in the home by roasting or frying with it, damaged fats are also found in fried foods, spreads, biscuits, crackers and cakes. So rule number 1 – dump the junk!
Omega 3 and 6 fats should be an integral part of our diet (because the body can’t make them) however it’s the balance of these essential fats that is crucial. Stone Age man would have consumed omega 6 and 3 fats in a ratio of 1:1; nowadays, this ratio can be as high as 25:1! This is because our Westernized diet is much higher in omega 6 oils found in vegetable oils, processed foods and spreads. The World Health Organization recommends a 4:1 omega 6 to 3 ratio. So for every food you eat with omega 3 fatty acids, you should consume no more than 4 times the amount of omega 6. Too much omega 6 (and too little omega 3) causes inflammation in the body. It is this inflammation that is at the root of increases in heart disease even in the presence of lower saturated fat intake. Saturated fats on the other hand are heat stable, so perfect for frying and roasting. So rule number 2, get the right balance of fats.
Linseeds are one of nature’s richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids. These fats are needed for our cell membranes and the brain contains over 60% essential fatty acids. These fats can help to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and the risk of developing blood clots, help control blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. The Linseed Farm’s omega 3 oil contains 60% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega 3, one of the highest potency omega 3 linseed oils in the UK. EU legislation states that 2g of ALA per day (around 4/5ml of The Linseed Farm’s linseed oil) helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Other sources are raw, unsalted nuts, seeds including linseed/flaxseed and oily fish such as mackerel, herring, salmon, trout and sardines.
Consume more fibre! Fibre helps to remove used cholesterol from the body. Less than a third of us consume 5 or more portions of fruits and vegetables per day, which are excellent sources of fibre. In Japan (one of the healthiest countries worldwide), the recommendations are for 8 portions of vegetables and 4 of fruit a day. Whole oats are great sources of fibre. They contain cholesterol-reducing beta-glucans.
Eating the wholegrain form in porridge is the best source, or make healthy flapjacks for a good treat option. Start the day with porridge with 2 tablespoons of ground linseed, or home-made muesli with added ground linseeds, snack on celery, nuts and carrots, add pulses to soups and stews or have an extra portion of vegetables.
Protect yourself with antioxidants by increasing the intake of rainbow coloured fruits and vegetables: dark greens, reds, purples, oranges, yellows. Vitamin C and bioflavanoids found in highly colourful fruits, vegetables and berries help to maintain the strength of artery and capillary walls. Include peppers, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, strawberries, citrus, peas, melon, tomatoes and mangoes.
Other foods that can have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system include broccoli, lemon, ginger, beans and pulses, fibre rich carrots and garlic. Use garlic raw in dressings (chopped) and roasted with vegetables whole; raw retains more of the active chemical, but cooked still has beneficial properties. Garlic and onions contain sulphur compounds that may aid the transport and therefore the efficiency of cholesterol removal.
Avoid anti-nutrients such as sugar. High sugar intake can cause obesity and diabetes, both of which make you more vulnerable to cardiovascular problems. Increase nutrient rich foods your grandmother would have cooked with – ie wholefoods - and reduce nutrient poor, processed foods. Also be mindful of too much salt in your diet – use herbs and spices to enhance flavour rather than salt.
Omega 3 rich linseed oil vinaigrette:
Try this salad vinaigrette for another twist to add in some Linseed Oil to your diet. It works with any salad combination - or just add it to some grated carrots for a simple but tasty dish. Simply whisk all the ingredients together until they are blended:
2 tbsp water, 4 tsp The Linseed Farm linseed oil, 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp crushed garlic
Fibre and omega 3 rich muesli:
This is a satisfying breakfast, full of protein, essential fats and fibre: Simply mix the following ingredients together: 2 tbsp porridge oats, some nutty (low sugar) muesli,
2 dessertspoons Linseed Farm linseed meal, 1 dessertspoon Linseed Farm Culinary Linseed oil, handful of blueberries and chopped banana or grated apple to taste, 3 tbsp organic natural probiotic yogurt or organic soya yogurt.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Hippocrates
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