I have been trying various things in order to get my cholesterol down and this was one of the foods that was recommended to me. The bread is made from 50% wheat flour and 50% oats (if you ignore everything else). The addition of the oats is what helps this to lower your cholesterol.
Oats contain a sort of soluble fibre called beta glucan. This forms a gel like substance during digestion and binds with some of the cholesterol rich bile salts your digestive system produces. This prevents some of these salts and other sources of cholesterol from being reabsorbed. This means that your liver will remove cholesterol from your blood in order to replace the bile salts needed for digestion so your blood cholesterol is lowered.
The bread is expensive at £1.40 for a 800 g loaf but if it works it is worth it. It is, however, not the easiest bread to find as some shops don't stock it as there may be less call for it.
The taste and texture is perhaps slightly odd. I find it a bit like solidified porridge that has been sliced but perhaps slightly milder in taste. The texture is slightly dryer than normal bread and a bit spongy. Whilst I don't often eat it as plain bread it does make quite good sandwiches and the bread does not go soggy as easily as regular bread. Also it makes good toast as this enhanced the slight nuttiness of the flavour.
Now when this bread gets a little bit old it begins to slightly ferment and a rather strange smell a bit like fermenting beer begins to come from it and at this stage it tastes like it smells. This has happened before the best before date on a couple of occasions and the shelf life does appear to be less than regular bread so it does need eating quite quickly and storing in a cool dry place (mine is kept in the bread bin in my kitchen. I tend to eat 3-4 slices of it a day with any other bread I or my other half eats is my own home made. When I find a suitable recipe for oat bread I may start making my own of this as well
I first tried this wonderful sliced bread when I was sent a voucher for a free sample last year. I was particularly interested in this new loaf as it is made with 50% Oats and 50% wheat flour. As someone with a mild wheat intolerance, this sounded like a good idea. As someone whose cholesterol level when first tested a few years ago was 16 (!!) - due to familial hypercholesterolaemia - and who is now on the highest possible dose of statin (plus another tablet that helps absorb said statin), I am always interested in oat products as oats are said to help maintain normal cholesterol levels. Although I don't think the words 'normal' and 'cholesterol' can be used in the same sentence in my own case, it is certainly of interest to my husband and to other members of my family.
Oats and I haven't always got on. When I was a little girl I had to eat porridge, and when I was a bit older it was my job to wash the pan. In my opinion, porridge is the food of the devil . It has a disgusting texture, looks yukky, smells horrible, tastes worse. And as for washing out a congealed pan... I think you get the idea. So, before I started eating the Hovis Hearty Oats loaf, my oats were first supplied either by HobNobs or flapjacks - much more yummy, but maybe not quite as healthy! I now also eat lots of oat-based cereals, which are lovely and crunchy as I eat them without milk. I know I could eat oat cakes, and I do so occasionally, but find them a bit dry.
To my delight, I loved this bread from the first taste. It resembles a granary loaf (my favourite) rather than a plain brown or white sliced loaf, and the oats provide a deliciously nutty taste and texture. It's so nice to have found a bread that doesn't leave me bloated and in pain for hours afterwards. Hovis Hearty Oats is great on its own (I eat my bread dry), and as toast. It goes well with either sweet food or savoury. It freezes well. In fact, I recently took delivery of 20 loaves from Sainsburys online grocery service, which my husband stored in our larder freezer in the garage.
Hovis have worked with HEART UK - The Cholesterol Charity - to bring us this bread. As the packaging states, 'Two slices of Hovis Hearty Oats contains 1.0g of beta-glucan, a third of your daily suggested intake of 3g. Hovis Hearty Oats Bread contains natural oat beta-glucan which if eaten regularly, as part of a healthy lifestyle and a diet low in saturated fat, has been shown to help maintain normal cholesterol levels in your blood. Maintaining cholesterol levels can help maintain a healthy heart'. Tell me about it...
As I've said, this bread is suitable for freezing, and if you're going to do this, it's recommended that you freeze on the day of purchase and use within 3 months. For everyday use, it is recommended that the bread be kept cool and dry. The 'best before' date is on the bag tie.
The loaf's packaging is quite eye-catching and attractive. It's a pale turquoise/aqua colour, and the wrapper has a design depicting hearts and wheat. The wheat used is 100% British. The Allergen Information states that the bread contains wheat, oats, gluten and soya. It contains no artificial preservatives, and no artificial flavourings. It is low in saturated fat, is a source of fibre, and contains a low sugar level. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. This loaf is available from Asda, £1.34, Sainsburys, £.140; Ocado £1.43.
And now I'd like to tell you a heartwarming story. Feel free to skip this part if you're only interested in the bread...
As part of their campaign to introduce this loaf into people's hearts and minds, Hovis ran a 'Heartwarming Story Competition', where you were invited to submit a small article on something that had warmed your heart, or that had touched you deeply. I wrote a short piece about my youngest niece, who had repaid a kindness shown to her when she was a little girl with an even bigger kindness that took my breath away. The competition had two winners, and I'm delighted to report that I was one of them. The recipient of the prize is said niece, who is now being treated to a fabulous weekend in a luxury country house hotel, complete with many many luxurious trimmings.
And now for another little story:
After first trying this loaf last summer, my husband and I have been utterly devoted to its deliciousness, and for a long time it was our bread of choice. However, after a while we noticed to our utter horror that our local Tesco no longer stocked it. I sent Tesco an email asking them to reconsider, and lo and behold, the bread returned to our supermarket's shelves. But not for long, alas. A further email elicited the response that we should be able to order it via the in-store Customer Service desk, but this proved not to be the case.
So we decided to try elsewhere. No luck in our local Sainsburys. There's a huge Asda store in the town where my husband works, so he would drive out of his way to call in occasionally and try to stock up. He was only ever able to buy one or two loaves at a time, and it was time and effort he could ill afford to waste. Our next step was to register with one of the supermarkets' websites and order online. We tried a couple, who were unable to help. One in particular was quite annoying, as they rang me the day our bread delivery was due to say that they didn't have it, but would try to get their Bakery to order it and would call me back to let me know. I heard nothing further. Eventually I rang their Customer Services team, who informed me simply that my order had been cancelled. No help there, then.
I am delighted to inform you that Sainsburys came through with flying colours. In order to keep our delivery charge at £3.50, we needed to spend £40. We found another couple of items that were available on very good offers and which we were happy to add to our shopping list - Olay's Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream (I've also written a review on this) was half price, and asparagus was £3 for 2 bundles. We were more than happy with the choices of offers available, and were also happy to absorb the £3.50 delivery cost in order to get our 20 loaves. Their delivery was exactly on time, the lady who brought the groceries into the house for us was friendly and efficient - and was heading back to try the bread herself.
I think it's a huge shame that this wonderful, delicious, healthy bread is not more widely available on our supermarket shelves, so I decided to write this review in the hope of getting other customers interested. This bread should be back on the bakery shelves where it belongs!
So, Hovis (and Sainsburys), my husband and I thank you, my poor cholesterol-ridden heart thanks you, and my niece and her husband thank you. This product deserves about 25 stars, but alas I'm restricted to giving it five.
(This review is also on Ciao, under the same user-name.)