Matters of the heart

By Emily Miller • Published: February 3rd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

February is most often thought of as a month all about matters of the heart, including love, romance and dating. However, when eating chocolate, buying or receiving flowers and making dinner date plans, be sure not to forget about the most important matter of the heart: health.

Given that February is American Heart Month, it’s a perfect time to think about your heart and keeping it healthy.

New evidence suggests that vegetable oils could play a role in heart health. According to an analysis in Canadian Medical Association Journal, some vegetable oils that claim to be healthy could actually increase the risk of death from coronary artery disease. In Canada, the use of polyunsaturated vegetable oil as a replacement for saturated animals fats has become commonplace. In fact, corn and safflower oil are used in foods such as margarine, chips and mayonnaise.

Health Canada’s Food Directorate allows the food industry to apply a heart disease risk reduction claim on vegetable oils and foods containing these oils. The label suggests that foods containing vegetable oil reduce a person’s risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.

Although canola oil and soybean oil are associated with lowering cholesterol and lowering the risk of coronary artery disease, not all polyunsaturated fatty acids have these health benefits. Researchers have found that polyunsaturated vegetable oils that were lacking in omega-3 fatty acids but rich in omega-6 fatty acids were not associated with beneficial effects on heart health.

The authors of the analysis now suggest the health claim be modified to exclude foods oils rich in omega-6 fatty acid but low in omega-3 fatty acid. This means opt for canola and soybean oils instead of those made from corn or safflower.

This February, enjoy the heart-centered celebrations with a taste of candy, candles and cards, but don’t forget about keeping your heart healthy.