If you have had a heart attack, or know someone who has had one…

Each year, roughly 1.5 million Americans have a heart attack — and most of them survive. But I’ll bet you didn’t know that research shows that just one year after their diagnosis, the vast majority fail to adhere to the dietary changes that could prevent a second heart attack (think olive oil, fish, and figs). Personal loss is what forces many of us to make deep changes in our precious lives.  After losing her father to his second heart attack and worried about her husband after his first attack, Dr. Janet Bond Brill penned Prevent a Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease (Three Rivers Press, $15.00, February 1, 2011).

Bond Brill has really put together a good self-help book. The first half explores what heart attack is and how our systems work.  The second half sets us on track to change our eating habits to healthier choices.  There have been a zillion diet/self-help books thrown at us over the years, some sound, some not so much … Atkins, the Zone, South Beach, Cookie, Mediterranean and more.  So it takes a bit to convince me to read on when it comes to food and nutrition.  A couple of things that made me read through her pages:

  1. She gives an excellent education on how our anatomy, organs and body systems react to food and why…and why the bad foods are really bad…and why the good foods are really good.
  2. She delivers a very good assortment of recipes (most were very appealing to me). Based on the Mediterranean Diet concept (fish, olive oil, figs, dark greens), she gives enough of a recipe base plus meal plans to get anyone started on eating right.
  3. Just as with a diabetic meal plan, you need mid-meal snacks, she sets those up for you as well (those could have been a bit more inspired, but everything else is quite appealing.)
  4. Because the cooking is fresh and simple, prep time for any meal is very little — about the same I currently spend on my meal prep at home — I can prep and bake a fish dinner with full-on veggies, quinoa/rice/couscous/pasta, etc in less than 30 min.  I realize most people nowadays prefer to pick up something pre-prepared and pop it in the microwave for 10 minutes, but adding just another 20 can make a radical difference in your life.

My own food choices approach a more vegetarian/pescatarian diet every day.  Ever since watching the movie “Food, Inc.” my eating habits have changed radically.  My choices are mostly organic and locally grown produce, very little chicken and beef (and then, only free-range), and virtually no processed food.  It’s been almost a year and not only have I lost fat (and weight), but I feel great and I’m convinced that this was the right lifestyle choice for my family.  After months and months of persuasion, my daughter is finally starting to take a shine to a broader array of veggies, and defines some of the best smells in the world, as those emanating from my kitchen.

I’m including the Q&A sent by the publisher, because it is worth the read and may convince you to make some healthier eating choices, even if you aren’t a “self-help” book type.


2 thoughts on “If you have had a heart attack, or know someone who has had one…

  1. I find a lot of this advice to be helpful however I do highly believe that there are a few key points missing. First reducing carb intake is essential. Second eating healthy animal fat is essential (hormone-free, antibiotic-free, free-range meats and not just restricted to fish).

    I think a good read would be “Why we get Fat?” by Gary Taubes especially chapter 18 which goes into heart disease in detail. Taubes’s writing is clear and persuasive. He lays out a logical series of facts and potential connections and explanations, leading you to see things his way. If insulin controls fat storage by building and maintaining fat tissue, and if carboydrates drive insulin secretion, then the way to reduce overweight and obesity (along with other major diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.) is carbohydrate and sugar restricted eating.

    Low-carb dieting was vilified over the last half century (think Atkins) partly out of concern that the accompanying high fat consumption would cause premature heart attacks, strokes, and death. We know now that total dietary fat and saturated fat have little to do with coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), setting the stage for a resurgence of low-carb eating.

  2. When a person suffers a heart attack, it is a scary, painful, hectic, and often confusing experience. The same goes for their loved ones. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and research. I am looking forward for your future blogs.

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