ST. PAUL, Minn. — Kowalski's Markets, in its current customer newsletter, has suggested heart-healthy foods that are easy to incorporate in everyday diets.
In fact, “easy” is a major consideration in the choice of the four all-natural foods, which are oatmeal, almonds, beans and apples.
But there are other considerations, too. These items are easily available and affordable, and there's solid science behind the recommendations, Sue Moores, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant to nine-unit Kowalski's, told SN.
“I like the whole food approach, too. In other words, these aren't ingredients for a recipe or a combination of highly fortified items that have been put together to make a ‘super-charged’ product,” Moores said. “These are whole, natural products customers put in their grocery carts.”
As Moores pointed out in the newsletter, most people are aware that particular fish and flaxseed are good for heart health, but not many people eat these things every day.
In addition to choosing foods that are easy to fit into any day's eating, Moores gives the recommended amount a person should eat in order to benefit his or her heart health.
“People often ask how much of whatever it is they should eat daily,” Moores said.
She sees giving customers practical advice as a valuable customer service.
“This is a starting point,” she said, “since February is Heart Health Month. It's a nod toward a seasonal approach, but I can easily add a dozen or more such items with the same attributes as spring gets closer.”
In the retailer's February newsletter, Moores gives explanations as to why these are good choices. Below are excerpts:
• Oatmeal. A key ingredient in rolled oats is beta-glucan. It affects cholesterol absorption in the body and reduces the amount of cholesterol your body produces. Instant oatmeal won't do the trick, but “quick-cooking” oats and old-fashioned oats sure will. (Ready-to-eat/cold oat cereals are not as effective.)
Recommendation: 1 cup a day.
• Almonds. Their monounsaturated fat helps lower LDL cholesterol levels; they have more fiber than any other tree nut (fiber-rich diets are linked with a healthier heart); and they are rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E. Almonds also contain an amino acid that may ease blood flow through the arteries.
Recommendation: 1 handful (about 30 nuts) a day as a substitute for another snack food.
• Beans. For a zillion reasons. Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, etc., lower the rate of cholesterol absorption in your body and can reduce the amount of cholesterol your body produces. They can affect blood flow through your blood vessels by affecting how blood clots and the nimble nature of arteries.
Recommendation: 4 half-cup servings a week. Try adding rinsed canned beans to casseroles, tacos, salads, soups and rice or potato side dishes.
• Apples. The pectin in apples works its way down to your intestine. Once there, it helps lower bad cholesterol and is “eaten” by healthy bacteria in your intestine to form a substance that makes your blood less likely to clot. Apples contain antioxidants, which keep cells healthy, and phytonutrients that make artery walls less “sticky.” Both actions protect against atherosclerosis.
Recommendation: An apple a day, of course!