A month to change your heart: Day 1

Today, we’ll focus on the first pillar of the Healthy Change of Heart program: The Diet.

How is this different than one of the many fad diets so many of us have tried?  

First, it is not a diet.  Instead, we will show you ways to begin making lifestyle changes.  Losing weight is a side effect of following the program. The Mediterranean Diet, which provides a template of how you will eat, is healthy for the heart, nutrient dense and will leave you feeling satisfied. 

Second, this is about more than just the diet.  The four main parts of the program include diet, exercise, stress reduction, and knowledge about the heart that can empower you to make better choices. 

Heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the United States.  If you don’t have heart disease already, let’s work together to keep it that way.  If you already have elevated LDL cholesterol or high triglycerides, let’s work together to lower these numbers.  If you do have a diagnosis of heart disease, know that disease is reversible, and you can prevent a heart attack by making these changes.

As a cardiologist, I hope that giving you these tools will help put me out of business. 

The Mediterranean Diet is rich in complex carbohydrates, heart healthy sources of protein, and poly and monounsaturated fats, but it is low in saturated fats, sugar, and simple carbohydrates like white breads and pasta.  You will become an expert on this diet by the end of these four weeks.  Here is an example of a typical day:

Sample breakfast:  Scrambled egg whites or Egg Beaters with a whole wheat English muffin with almond butter

OR, Greek yogurt topped with high fiber cereal and ¼ cup of walnuts

Sample lunch: Chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with sliced avocado; large green salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing; fresh fruit

Sample dinner:  Grilled salmon with brown rice and roasted broccoli topped with sliced almonds

Here are two recipes to get you started:

The Healthy Change of Heart Program Breakfast Sandwich
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of liquid egg white or egg beaters (Or 1 whole egg with 1 egg white)
  • 1 whole wheat sandwich thin
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cheddar cheese shreds

Directions:

  1. Pour liquid egg white into a small bowl and cook in the microwave oven for 60 seconds. Flip the egg white over like a pancake.
  2. Top the partially cooked egg whites with the low-fat shredded cheddar cheese.
  3. Return to the microwave oven and cook on high for 45 seconds.
  4. Remove egg and cheese mixture from the microwave and place in the sandwich thin.

* Add a few slices of avocado to your sandwich would add about 200 calories and a great source of heart healthy fat or add ¼ cup of nuts on the side for the same benefit!

EGG WHITE CUPCAKES
These egg muffins are very low in calories and fat, so enjoy several of them for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups egg whites or eggbeaters
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • Frozen vegetables

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly coat each muffin tin with extra virgin olive oil spray.
  3. Place frozen vegetables into each tin. 
  4. Fill the remainder of the tins with the egg whites or eggbeaters and sprinkle with low-fat cheddar cheese   
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately or reheat for later. Egg muffins can be frozen.

As you digest all of this information, we want to finish the day with some words of advice. On the first day of Healthy Change of Heart, the doctor said to me:

  1. Make an appointment to see your personal doctor.  Get a lipid panel, which includes your total cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol).  You will hear much more about cholesterol and exactly what it does over the next few weeks.
  2. Make note of your blood pressure. Your blood pressure may drop as you become a regular exerciser and as you lose weight.  If your blood pressure is higher than 140/80, see a health care practitioner before starting to exercise.
  3. Start an exercise program.  Carve out time four or five days a week.  If you are new to exercise, start slowly.  Walking for 10-15 minutes a day is a great way to begin. If you are a more experienced exerciser, evaluate your program.  Is it accomplishing your goal?  If not, start to make changes.  
  4. Begin changing what you eat.  Our first goal is to increase the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you eat every day.  Start by adding at least one piece of fruit and one serving of vegetables to your diet every day. 

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