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Welcoming Heart Active & Perfect Polenta Pizza – by Emma Stirling APD

How wonderful to welcome our first Scoop Supporter for 2013 – Dairy Farmers HeartActive®.  Scoop supporters are brands that eat, drink or think just like us and help us grow our Sub of the Month mentoring program for dietitians.  So it’s time to share some nutrition news on plant sterols, the active cholesterol lowering ingredient in HeartActive® and let you in on their amazing Polenta Pizza recipe.

Credible claims

Did you know, after 13 exhaustive years, Australia now has a brand new food law standard that governs health claims on packaged food?  There’s a lot of rules about what can’t be said. But one of the  high level health claims now permitted is that plant sterols actively reduce blood cholesterol.  The scientific evidence is just so well accepted on the ability of these naturally occurring plant extracts to have heart health benefits.  In fact according to the Heart Foundation there is Level 1 evidence (the highest of the ranking score).  Health professionals can read more about the evidence here.

The Dietitians Association of Australia describes plant sterols as:

A naturally occurring ingredient that can help to reduce the absorption of cholesterol from food. They are found in small amounts in: nuts, seeds and legumes; vegetable oils; breads and cereals; fruits and vegetables.  When eaten in the right amounts (2-3g/day), plant sterols have been shown to lower blood cholesterol by up to 10-15% when combined with a healthy lifestyle. This is because they block the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol, leading to lower levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Busting myths

Now I still meet people that believe they need to ditch dairy if they have high cholesterol.  So getting your head around the idea that a milk may actually work the opposite way, can seem a bit tricky at first.  But if I said you could help manage your cholesterol with a couple of glasses a milk a day, wouldn’t you like the sound of that?  HeartActive® is a 99% fat free milk, low GI, and 250mL serve  contains 0.8g of plant sterols.  But the best bit is the taste.  Even though this is a low fat milk, it has a surprisingly creamy texture due to the addition of the plant sterols.   Drinking or consuming HeartActive® can be effective with results seen in a short period of time (3 weeks) but make sure you speak with an Accredited Practising or Registered Dietitian about your total heart healthy eating plan and lifestyle.  There are many ways to get your 2-3 serves throughout the day from a breaky smoothie or oats right through to this divine, gluten free, polenta pizza.

Perfect Polenta Pizza

Serves 2


  • 2 cups HeartActive® milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking polenta (cornmeal)
  • 2 tablespoons salt reduced tomato pasta sauce

Suggest toppings – but I improvised with what we had on hand

  • 1/3 cup grated vintage light cheese
  • 25g baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 red capsicum, finely sliced
  • 50g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 pitted olives, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into thin slivers
  • 2 (40g) fat free pickled artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, torn


Bring HeartActive and water to a gentle simmer in a large saucepan. “Rain” in polenta whisking continuously until smooth. Stir for 2-3 minutes until very thick. Spread into a 20cm round on a baking paper lined pizza pan or oven tray. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until cool.

Spread polenta with sauce, then top with half the cheese, spinach, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, red onion, artichokes and remaining cheese.

Bake at 200°C for 15 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with basil leaves and cut into wedges.

What about you lovely readers?  How do you manage cholesterol levels? How do you do pizza?


  • Oh my gosh! A polenta pizza base? Never thought to do that! Such a great idea.

    Also loving that now milk can include plant sterols! Personally I think it’s a much better idea than the original plant sterol spreads which promote buttering up your bread!

  • Yuuummm! What a fantastic idea! What a great twist on pizza! I shall defintely be making this! Totally agree with Jenna as well, use of milk is a much better choice than encouraging use of margarines! Thanks Emma!

  • Natalie Edwards

    Great idea Em, this looks amazing and I bet it tastes even better. I agree with Jenna, loving the fact plant sterols are now present in milk. Having milk daily will now tick 2 boxes- lowers cholesterol & helps contribute to serves of dairy.

  • Camilla Ferraro

    this recipe looks to die for! Will be trying on weekend…great to learn about the benefits of plant sterols- interesting subject matter as a nutrition student 🙂

  • Rachel Dickens

    Thanks Emma, looks delicious. I would be interested to find out where the plant sterols are sourced from that are used in this milk. In the past I do remember the plant sterols in margarines being sourced from palm oil, I hope this has changed 🙂

  • EmmaStirling

    Thanks for your excellent question Rachel. I’ve notified the Heart Active dietitians and will have an answer for you ASAP.

  • EmmaStirling

    Hi Rachel, the response from Heart Active is:
    The plant sterols used in HeartActive are derived from
    rapeseed and tall oil.
    Hope that helps. Emma

  • Heidi – Apples Under My Bed

    I just love this idea, looks completely scrumptious & just my kind of meal!
    Heidi xo

  • Rachel Dickens

    Thanks so much for looking into that 🙂 I already promote heart active and now I can do it with piece of mind! Rachel

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