WASHINGTON — Though cardiovascular health risks such as high blood pressure, stroke and high cholesterol top health concerns for many Americans, consumers aren’t doing a good job of incorporating heart-healthy foods in their diet, finds a survey by the International Food Information Council here.
While 80% of Americans are aware of the relationship between omega-3s and heart health, just 48% are consuming omega-3s for this benefit. Retailers can help by promoting heart healthy foods and nutrients such as:
• Nuts —A rich source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fat, nuts promote heart health. Almonds and hazelnuts are also high in vitamin E, which helps promote the function of a healthy cardiovascular system, according to IFIC.
• “Heart healthy” fats — Both monounsaturated fat (olive, canola, peanut or high oleic safflower oil) or polyunsaturated fat (sunflower, corn or soybean oil) may help promote heart health. Salmon, sardines, herring, trout and tuna are sources of omega-3 fatty acids, as are eggs.
• Soy protein — Soy protein is also heart healthy. It can be found in nutrition bars, fortified soy beverages, tofu, soy cheese and edamame.
• Sterols and stanols — Found in corn, soy and wheat, these plant-based food components help block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine, which can help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
• Dark chocolate — Some dark chocolates can contain flavanols which have been shown to help support the cardiovascular system.