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September 1999 Issue
Diet and the Risk of Heart Disease
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Shape up!

While this article is focused on diet, it would be wrong to avoid mentioning the importance of exercising to reduce your risk of heart disease. Get a lot of exercise. It will help you lose weight, increase your HDL (good) cholesterol and lower your triglycerides.

Lose weight if you need to. Losing just 10 pounds can make a difference in your cholesterol level, especially if your body is an "apple shape" -- that is, most of your excess fat is located near your waist. Your waist measurement divided by your hip measurement should be less than 0.9 for men and less than 0.8 for women.

And, finally, if you smoke, STOP.

Heart Healthy Recipes

By using the information given in this article and following the instructions given to you by your physician, you will find yourself on the road to reducing your risk of coronary heart disease. However, since this is an ezine with a focus on cooking, it wouldn't be right to end without sharing some recipes that put the ideas in this article to work. So, pull out those pots and pans and get ready to eat heart healthy!


Strawberry-Banana Slush

This chilled drink is fat free and an excellent source of vitamins and phytochemicals. Enjoy one after a vigorous walk.
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped strawberries, frozen
  • 2 medium bananas, frozen and broken into quarters
  • 2 cups pineapple-orange-banana juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
  • Yields: 5 servings
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes


Spinach Squares

This attractive appetizer is not only low in fat but loaded with vitamin C, beta carotene, folic acid, potassium, calcium and iron! Spinach provides high levels of folic acid which can help reduce homocysteine levels.
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 2 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with wax paper or parchment paper and set aside. Drain and squeeze excess water out of the spinach. In a large bowl, combine spinach, nutmeg and sugar.

Put the cottage cheese in a food processor or blender and process 30 seconds. Add the flour, Parmesan cheese, egg yolk, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Process 30 seconds longer or until well-blended. Add to spinach mixture and mix well.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold into the spinach mixture. Pour into baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until set and golden.

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes. Invert onto cutting board and slice into 16 squares. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 16 appetizer servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes


Spicy Salmon with Southern Salsa

Salmon is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce high triglyceride levels. The salsa that's served with the fish is a great way to get an extra serving of fruits and vegetables in your diet too! Add some brown rice tossed with your favorite fresh herbs and dinner is ready.
  • 3 medium peaches, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 4 salmon fillets, 6 oz. each
Combine all ingredients except chipotle pepper and salmon fillets in a medium sized bowl. Stir until well mixed. Set aside for 1 hour.

Sprinkle salmon fillets with ground chipotle pepper. Prepare broiler. Place fish on broiler pan coated with cooking spray and broil for 5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve immediately with 1 cup of salsa spread over each fillet.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes


Lemon Dijon Pasta

This pasta dish makes a quick addition to your supper and is not high in sodium. You can substitute any pasta for the rotini. It makes a great accompaniment to grilled steak or roast.
  • 5 ounces (2 cups) uncooked dried rotini pasta
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
Cook pasta according to package directions and add broccoli during last 5 minutes of cooking. Rinse with hot water and drain.

In a 3-quart saucepan, melt margarine until sizzling; stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth and bubbly (about 1 minute). Gradually stir in milk and mustard. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil (about 4 to 6 minutes). Continue boiling 1 minute, then remove from heat. Add onion and lemon juice to sauce and stir. Immediately add pasta mixture; toss to coat evenly.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes


Italian Broccoli with Tomatoes

This side dish is both low in fat and calories, but certainly not taste! It makes a great addition to many pasta dishes or grilled chicken.
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 medium-ripe tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Wash and cut broccoli into 1/2-inch pieces, if using fresh broccoli.

Place broccoli and water in a shallow microwave dish. Cover with lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring twice. They are finished when tender.

Drain the broccoli. Stir in spices and tomato wedges. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover. Microwave to melt cheese. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes


Apple Cobbler

Just because your heart healthy diet calls for cutting down on fat, doesn't mean you can't enjoy dessert. This cobbler cuts fat and includes apples, an excellent source of fiber.
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 medium tart apples (like Macintosh or Granny Smith), peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat biscuit mix
  • 2 tablespoons light margarine, melted
  • 3 tablespoons water
Mix cornstarch, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan. Add 3/4 cup water and mix well. Add apples. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens and apples just begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Pour into 1-quart casserole dish. Stir biscuit mix and margarine together. Add 3 tablespoons water and mix well. Spread on top of apple mixture. Bake at 400 degrees until top is lightly browned, about 30 minutes.
  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour

More Resources

For more information about coronary heart disease and what you can do to reduce your risk of having it, consult your physician and visit any of the following web sites:

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