In an effort to keep our hearts healthy, many of us are turning to "functional foods" fortified with natural substances so they can pack more nutritional punch and work better than they would on their own.
As registered dietician and Early Show contributor Keri Glassman noted in the first part of the series "Heartwatch" Monday, we're gobbling up enough functional foods to bring them to an expected $60 billion sales mark next year.
Glassman detailed three such food groups: omega 3 fatty acids, plant sterols, and calcium, and told which foods are fortified with them and what they promise to do for our hearts.
One ready example: calcium, found naturally in milk and yogurt, but added to orange juice to fortify it.
Glassman stressed that you should always get nutrients from the foods they're in naturally, when possible. Fortification is merely a bonus when you're already eating those foods. For instance, if you don't eat chocolate, don't add it in to get your plant sterols!
We frequently hear about these essential fatty acids. Essential means our bodies can't produce them, so we must get them from food. Good sources include salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flax. Omega 3s lower blood pressure, triglycerides and the so-called "bad" cholesterol, LDL. They aos increase "good" cholesterol, HDL, and reduce inflammation, which is a contributor to heart disease and stroke.
Foods fortified with Omega 3s include:
Eggs, with DHA, a specific omega 3
Smart Balance PB, with omega 3s from flax oil
1 percent Plus Milk, with omega 3s from fish oils
Tropicana, with omega 3s from fish oils (Tilapia, sardines and anchovies)
The essential components of plants have a structure similar to cholesterol's. But, they can reduce bad cholesterol in the blood by preventing its absorption. This may mean a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends plant sterols for people with high cholesterol or who've had a heart attack, but not for the general population. They occur naturally in nuts, seeds, fruit, and veggies.
Foods fortified with plant sterols include Corazonas chips, Health Valley Heart Wise cereal (which also has omega 3s, Benecol spread, and Promise Active yogurt shot (which also contains omega 3's)
We all know calcium is a mineral good for strong bones. But, it's also important in lowering blood pressure, and helps with a regular heart beat and muscle contractions.
Foods being fortified with it include Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta, Wonder Bread Kids (this is an example of where it's better to drink milk and eat whole grain bread!), and waffles.
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