Product Review: HeartActive milk

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 04 April 2013.
Tagged: cholesterol, convenience, dairy, diet foods, drinks, fat, healthy heart, healthy lifestyle, milk, review, special diets, technology

Product Review: HeartActive milk

clipboardThis post has been sponsored by Heart Active

Milk. It’s one of those basic foods that’s been in our lives ever since our toddler days. Like all full-fat dairy foods, milk contains saturated fat and is often avoided if your doctor suddenly announces that you have to lower your cholesterol and you’re a sitting duck if you don’t do something FAST. Fortunately, there are many good-tasting no-fat, low-fat and skim milks on offer but if you’re out to lower your cholesterol then why not drink a milk that will actively help? Having put my husband on it as part of his cholesterol-lowering diet, I thought it was time to take a closer look at HeartActive.

HeartActive is a delicious, 99% fat free milk enriched with plant sterols, which are proven to help reduce cholesterol. Research shows that consuming plant sterols everyday in milk can reduce cholesterol by an average of 10% in three weeks.

 

Taste: 9 out of 10

No suffering here. HeartActive tastes very good, just like any other low-fat milk. In fact we thought it felt more creamy than a standard low-fat milk.

We tasted it in a variety of ways that would quickly show up its strengths and weaknesses – straight down in a glass, over cereal, made up as a milky coffee and the hardest of tests, in white tea. Don’t know about you but somehow you can immediately pick up any slight off-taste or loss of freshness in a cuppa. HeartActive passed the tea test with flying colours.

We also used it to make up a Baked Egg Custard with eggs, sugar and a pinch of nutmeg. It performed beautifully and gave a delicious result which we enjoyed with stewed apricots and prunes. Yum.

Nutrition: 18 out of 20

To lower your cholesterol, you have to consume 2 to 3 serves of a sterol-enriched food e.g. a margarine spread like Logicol or Pro-activ or this HeartActive milk or a combination of all of them which I feel is the easiest, least troublesome way to consume the sterols.

The trick is to get enough of them so they can get to work to block cholesterol absorption which in turn lowers the ‘bad’, LDL-cholesterol. Research shows that sterol enriched foods can lower cholesterol by an average of 10 per cent. Good news – it also works in conjunction with most cholesterol-lowering medication . Just saying. But it’s always best to speak to your GP about how to incorporate plant sterols into your cholesterol management plan. Read my explanation of plant sterols here.

If you like milk, then getting 2-3 serves a day is no problem. One serve of HeartActive means one glass or 250mL (8oz). Here's one way of how you could get it in:

Breakfast

with muesli or cereal       ½ cup or 125mL (4oz)

Over the day

in two teas or coffees       ¼ cup or 60mL (2 oz)

in a fruit smoothie*          1 cup or 250mL (8oz)

Before bed

In a mug of hot chocolate or hot milk with honey

                                             1 cup or 250mL (8oz)

Think of it another way, if you're the only one in your household needing the HeartActive, buy a 1-Litre carton and aim to get through it in two days, i.e. drink two serves (2 glasses) each day.

* I like smoothies as they're a fantastic way to "hide" raw psyllium husks or oat bran both of which help thicken the smoothie AND are rich in soluble fibre which also works to lower cholesterol. Remember the "8-week Cholesterol Cure" book? It was all about oat bran!

99% fat-free

If you are managing your cholesterol, saturated fat is a no-no. And dairy foods are the biggest source having around 50 per cent of their fat in the saturated form.

HeartActive has a low 1 per cent total fat with only 0.5g saturated fat as do other low-fat milks.  So it’s a good choice for anyone trying to reduce their saturated fat but in addition, it contains the active sterol which you’ll find listed on the Ingredient List.

HeartActive pack labels

I noticed it also has an emulsifier, 471, which is Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (like a partially-digested fat, usually from soy or plants) which explains its creamy mouthfeel. My guess is that this keeps the sterols dispersed evenly though the liquid milk.

List of ingredients

Low-fat milk, plant sterols esters (plant sterols 0.32%), emulsifier 471

Milk's nutrients

Like other milks, HeartActive  has the goodness of protein with 3.3 per cent or 8 grams in a glass. It is naturally high in bone-building calcium, giving you a hefty 308mg calcium per glass which translates to 38 per cent of the recommended intake of 800mg per day. Milks also contribute B vitamins, notably riboflavin or vitamin B2 which is needed for energy, growth in children and good skin, along with a little thiamin (B1) and B12.

There are also other milk minerals namely phosphorus which teams with calcium to build bones plus some potassium for nerve transmission and fluid balance. And it’s free of permeate and low GI.

Allergens

Just one thing to watch – if you have a soy allergy, this milk is not suitable for you as the sterols contain soy. This is noted on the label.

Convenience: 9 out of 10

As convenient as any other milk – just open and drink.

I paid $2.88 for the litre, so HeartActive costs around $1 more per litre than regular milks due to the cost of the expensive sterol ingredient.

It’s NOT recommended as a milk for children or pregnant or lactating women, due to their special dietary needs.  It’s really a special milk for diet therapy.

And don’t regard it as a cure-all. You can’t just drink the milk and continue to eat fatty fried food or greasy take-aways, or not takes steps to shed that overweight middle or cut back on alcohol and salt. HeartActive is just one weapon in an arsenal of dietary add-ins that all work to support your heart health.

I was surprised by it's unexpectedly long shelf life. The use-by date gave it 25 days which is astounding for a chilled product.

Sustainability 6 out of 10

HeartActive is produced in Australia from cow’s milk but the active sterol ingredient is imported from Germany. Due to the complex processing required, it’s unlikely ever to be produced here in Australia so will always need to be imported. On the other hand, it’s only a tiny 0.32 per cent of the ingredients. The packaging was the usual waxed paper carton which can be recycled.

More detail at http://www.heartactive.com.au/

The final word

Total score 42 out of 50 OR 4 ½ apples out of 5.

I find HeartActive a seamless substitute for regular milk for anyone managing their cholesterol.