news & trends

Food, Your Gut and Lower Blood Pressure – What’s the Connection?

Cardiovascular disease remains the world’s number one cause of death. With World Heart Day just around the corner on September 29th, new research points to the beneficial effects of flavonoid-rich foods on blood pressure.

A study just released reveals a link between flavonoids and the gut microbiome in improving blood pressure.

Researchers at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland found that consuming higher levels of flavonoid rich foods including berries, apples, pears, and red wine may be associated with a reduction in blood pressure levels. This can be explained in part by the characteristics of the gut microbiome.

The gut microbiome are the good bacteria that live in the digestive tracts. The gut microbiome has been studied for its role in gut health, immunity and behavior and now heart health can be added to the list! There is mounting evidence to the importance of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. This research suggests that the composition of the gut microbiome can play a key role in metabolizing flavonoids to enhance their benefits on heart health.

This study looked at over 900 adults and was published in Hypertension, the scientific journal of the American Heart Association. Those who had the highest intakes of flavonoid-rich foods had lower systolic blood pressure levels as well as a greater variety of bacteria in their gut compared to participants who consumed the lowest levels of flavonoids.

Lead researcher, Professor Aedín Cassidy explains that ‘These blood pressure lowering effects are achievable with simple changes to the daily diet. Eating  160 g of berries a day (which is about 1 cup sliced berries) was associated with a 4.1 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure, and 12% of the association was explained by gut microbiome factors. Drinking 700 mL red wine per week (which is about one glass of red wine 3 times a week, where a glass is 233 ml), was associated with a 3.7 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure levels, of which 15% could be explained by the gut microbiome.’

Researchers say that the ‘strength of their study was that they could examine the association between the intake of flavonoid rich foods, blood pressure and the composition of the microbiome concurrently.’

Are you interested in leveraging World Heart Day for your business?  Check out their 2021 playbook for information and ideas.  Let’s connect to help make a difference.

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What’s the truth about Coconut Oil?

coconut oil N4NN newsletter

At our 10th annual N4NN course this year, participants asked many questions that you may be wondering about too. We’ve busted some myths that are worth sharing – for example, the facts about Coconut Oil!

 A lot of information is out there about coconut oil, leaving consumers confused about the truth. Since coconut oil comes from coconuts, it could have a nutty flavour and appear as liquid or semi-solid at room temperature. You may wish to use it in your cooking for its flavour or texture, but remember it’s still 100% fat so use in moderation!

The scientific research does not hold up sufficient evidence to say that coconut oil has health benefits. For heart health, studies show canola and olive oils are better for you.  Enjoy a small amount of healthy oils – 30 to 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) – each day.

Do you have nutrition questions? Let us know and we’ll answer it in a future newsletter or in our social media postings. Follow us @NutritionTraining @SueMahRD  @LuciaWeilerRD

 

Saturated Fats and Processed Meats – Fact, Fiction or Controversy?

WHO bacon headline

Nutrition headlines never cease to draw interest and boost readership. After all, we are all food consumers and want to know what’s hot and what’s not. Read on for our commentary of the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s new advice for healthy eating and saturated fat, and the World Health Organization’s hot off the press research release on processed meat.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal questions the effect of saturated fat on heart disease. The study also showed that there is a clear relationship between trans fats and heart health problems. Although more work needs to be done, what we see is that saturated fats (which are found naturally in red meat, dairy products and certain vegetable oils) may not be as bad for heart health as we thought. However, trans fats, which are often found in processed or fried foods should be limited in the diet.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests that if you eat a “balanced diet you don’t have to worry as much about intake of saturated fat.” The Foundation also issued a statement “advocating for moderation and choosing whole foods instead of processed ones.”

Another statement recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) points to processed and red meat consumption as a risk factor for cancer. The WHO media release states: “The experts concluded that each 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%”. While these numbers sound dramatic, food and nutrition experts caution that they need to be taken in context.

As registered dietitians we closely follow the research, the evidence and the headlines and will elaborate on the key issues in our future programs and newsletters. For now we recommend you consider the big picture of an overall healthy dietary pattern with our top 3 tips below:

  1. Vary your daily protein choices.
  2. Include lean meats, poultry and fish (in smaller amounts) along with plant based meat alternatives such as beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  3. Dietitians of Canada recommends limiting processed meat consumption, in part due to the association with cancer risk as well as the high levels of sodium in these meats.

Health Canada approves new health claim

Health Canada has recently permitted a new health claim linking the consumption of psyllium fibre to a reduction of blood cholesterol.   A sample claim is: “Psyllium fibre helps lower cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease. 1 cup (30 g) of Brand X cereal with psyllium supplies 50% of the daily amount of fibre shown to help lower cholesterol.”  The “daily amount” is 7 g of psyllium fibre. To make this claim, the food must contain at least 1.75 g of psyllium soluble fibre per serving size as well as meet other specific nutrient criteria.

According to Health Canada, increased psyllium intake could be beneficial for adults who have normal or high blood cholesterol levels. Psyllium is a grain similar to wheat and oats, and is a concentrated source of soluble fibre.

Implications for your business: Only a few breakfast cereals currently contain psyllium fibre, but you can bet we’ll be seeing more psyllium-containing products hit the grocery shelves soon. For more information, read http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/psyllium-cholesterol-eng.php