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

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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?

 


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