ONhe preventive cardiologist – a doctor who helps people reduce their risk of heart disease – patients keep asking Elizabeth Klodas, MD, “What should I eat?” Given that heart disease is largely preventable through diet and lifestyle choices, it is certainly worth knowing.
While knowing what nutrients (and what foods they contain) that are directly beneficial to the heart is important, it’s only half the battle – it’s really important to eat them. To make this easier for people, especially when eating on the go, Dr. Klodas developed a whole line of heart-healthy foods, Step One Foods.
“As a cardiologist, I approached things differently than a typical food company,” says Dr. Klodas. “First, we identified the four nutrients that are critical to heart health and that almost none of us can get enough of.
Curious what these four crucial nutrients are and how Dr. Klodas and her team have packed them both accessible and delicious? Read on to learn more about how she came up with Step One Foods and which ingredients are at the fore.
The 4 heart-healthy nutrients that many miss
Like Dr. As Klodas mentioned, there are four important heart-healthy nutrients that she often doesn’t get enough of. Can you guess what they are? Whole food fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and plant sterols (natural plant components that impair the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine). “These nutrients are critical to achieving healthy cholesterol levels,” says Dr. Klodas.
She designed the grocery line to make sure every product had the Big Four. “We combined ingredients like chia, oat bran, walnuts and berries to ensure that each serving of each product delivers precise amounts of each of these four ‘building blocks of heart health’ in clinically meaningful amounts,” she says.
To prove that the foods can literally help lower cholesterol, Dr. Klodas and her team carried out a clinical study on the line’s foods. “We further demonstrated our approach works by putting our foods through a randomized controlled clinical trial, the highest level of scientific testing normally reserved for drugs,” she says. “Not only were we picky about the ingredients, but we also confirmed that the combinations and amounts of ingredients we selected resulted in measurable, positive cholesterol levels.” This means the food line is literally scientifically proven to support heart health.
The hero ingredients of this heart-healthy food line
So which foods are exactly in line? When manufacturing the products, emphasis was placed on convenience, so that you can choose from a whole range of snack bars. There are also smoothie mixes, oatmeal, and pancake mixes. Like Dr. As mentioned by Klodas, oat bran, nuts, and berries are ingredients that are common throughout the line. Berries are high in antioxidants, while oat bran is a good source of fiber. “Fiber also improves digestion and keeps you full longer,” says Dr. Klodas.
“Nuts are in every one of our products because they have so many health benefits,” says Dr. Klodas. “Nuts are packed with protein, healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin E, plant sterols and L-arginine [a type of amino acid]”She explains that unsaturated fats help lower the” bad “LDL cholesterol while increasing the” good “HDL cholesterol.” They also help prevent irregular heart rhythms, have mild blood-thinning properties, and are anti-inflammatory, ” she adds.
Another ingredient used throughout the line: chocolate. While Dr. Klodas says milk chocolate isn’t exactly great for heart health, dark chocolate is. “Chocolate flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage associated with heart disease, lower blood pressure, and improve vascular function,” she says. “Chocolate has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart attack.”
It’s not just the ingredients that Dr. Klodas and her team paid attention to the creation of the line; She says they also knew what ingredients to avoid. “I recently picked out some of the best-selling ‘healthy’ snack bars and checked out the ingredient lists. A bar listed five different types of sugar separately on the label, ”says Dr. Klodas. She says that when designing each product, it was important to avoid large amounts of sugar and chemical ingredients. “We don’t add binders or fillers. There are no counterproductive additives, ”she says.
You certainly don’t have to stick to a cardiologist-made food brand to eat with your heart health in mind. Fruits, nuts, fish, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and yogurt are heart-healthy foods that you can eat in their whole form. However, if you’re looking for something to stash in your purse or snack drawer, this grocery line comes into play. You can be sure that every product has been taken to heart.
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