Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cookbook Review: Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease
This week's review is a slight departure from the normal reviews.  Prevent a Second Heart Attack contains recipes at the back of the book, but the first two thirds are filled with information on diet changes that the author felt is lacking in most cardiac patient treatment plans.  February is American Heart Month, so it seemed appropriate to review just such a book this month.

The book is fairly easy to understand, though there are a lot of illustrations of arteries and much technical jargon throughout.  I skimmed some of it, but found the information on the 8 foods that Dr. Brill recommended to be fascinating.  She promotes a form of the Mediterranean type diet, eating olive oil, nuts, whole grains, vegetables,  with little or no animal fat.  There is a two week diet plan included as well as many recipes.  

I made one of the recipes, the Oatmeal Raisin Muffins.  They were quite delicious.  I noticed she included a good hummus recipe as well as a sauteed spinach/nut/raisin recipe that is similar to one I make all the time.  She includes many fish/seafood recipes as well as meatless main dishes, too.  Her diet is very heavy on whole grains and vegetables.

One of the 8 special foods Dr. Brill wants heart patients eating is walnuts.  Here is what she has to say: 
Heart Health in a Nutshell: What Walnuts Can Do for You 
By Janet Bond Brill Ph.D. R.D., LDN
Author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

Walnuts are an ancient plant food that has sustained humans since the dawn of civilization. They are key to heart health because they are a top source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). ALA is the omega-3 fatty acid derived from plants which our bodies need in addition to the other omega-3 that comes from salmon and other fish. Studies show that people who eat an ALA-rich diet are less likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. 

Walnuts (along with flaxseeds) are one of the eight key food groups - - along with olive oil, leafy greens, figs, and other fruits, lentils and other legumes, salmon and other seafood, oatmeal and other whole grains, and red wine - - that are part of my plan to reverse heart disease, or build good heart health to hopefully avoid heart troubles. Dark chocolate is a bonus food in this plan.

Walnuts stand apart from all other types of nuts for two reasons:
  • they provide the highest amount of the "vegetarian" omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, and
  • they are packed with the most plaque-fighting antioxidants relative to all other nuts
While the thin brown skin that surrounds the walnut meat - - the pellicle - - may taste a bit bitter, this is naturally rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which combat plaque buildup, so try to eat that portion when you eat your walnuts.  Walnuts are also naturally rich in vitamin E, the potent healthy antioxidant, concentrated mostly in the nut kernel.

Consuming just a handful of walnuts daily can help:
  • Make your dysfunctional endothelium (the damaged inner arterial layer that instigates and promotes heart disease progression) more functional by reducing inflammation and promoting more relaxed and dilated blood vessels.
  • Lower your cholesterol (both walnuts and flaxseeds will work together to make a dent in your "bad" LDL cholesterol level). 
  • Make your blood less likely to clot.
  • Lower your blood level of inflammation.  Eating walnuts is probably the easiest and tastiest way to incorporate ALA into your day because they can be enjoyed multiple ways: as a handy and portable snack or as an embellishment to any meal.
Here are a few of the ideas I offer in Prevent a Second Heart Attack:
  • Keep a bag of shelled walnuts on your kitchen counter and grab some nuts as a quick and healthy snack.
  • Go Greek: enjoy a fat-free Greek yogurt topped with a little honey, some crushed walnuts and savor a nutritious choice that makes a sensational and satisfying sweet dessert.
  • Sprinkle walnuts on your green salads. (Dr. Janet's Spinach Salad with Apples, Toasted Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries and Dr. Janet's Arugla Salad with Figs and Walnuts can be found on page 284 and 285)
  • Try candied walnuts - - bake walnuts sprinkled with a little brown sugar for a sweet treat.
  • Toss walnuts and dried fruit together in a small plastic bag and you have a super-antioxidant-rich and convenient snack for when you are out and about or even as a late-afternoon pick-me-up.
  • Use walnuts in cooking to add taste and nutrition to your favorite dishes.
So, go nuts (walnuts, that is) every day, and get heart healthy.
© 2011 Janet Bond Brill, Ph. D. R.D., LDN, author of Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease

(Note: All opinions are mine.  I did receive a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes)


Claudia said...

My father lived with heart disease for many years and the family did a Mediterranean diet (usually) which really held it at bay. The good news is the foods that benefit your heart are also packed with flavors (like your muffins).

Jennifurla said...

Love greek yogurt already good tips

Ann said...

Very interesting review. Thank you.

Torviewtoronto said...

lovely review thank you for sharing

Mateja ^_^ said...

You just gave me a super healthy execuse to use walnuts that I simply adore! Love you review, so informative but still light reading. Thank you for sharing and wishing you a pleasant weekend :)

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