A cardiac diet is a heart healthy diet encouraging you to eat foods good for heart, such as fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, lean poultry and fish. This is a healthy eating plan to improve your heart health and protect yourself from heart disease.
What can you eat for a healthy heart?
Most of the recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease are influenced by a rich diet. Replace one or two meals a week with healthier choices you’ll gradually get used to cooking and eating heart healthy meals.
- Use more lean poultry and fish. Remove all visible fat before cooking. Avoid sausages, luncheon meats and salami-type meats. Replace some meats with beans, peas and lentils several times a week.
- Use low-fat and fat-modified dairy products. Excess fats in the diet may contribute to obesity, high blood cholesterol levels, heart disease and certain cancers. Use butter, margarine, cream and oils sparingly.
- Use methods that require minimal fat or oil (e.g. grilling, baking, braising, steaming, boiling or pressure cooking). Use recipes requiring only moderate amounts of fat.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, beans and peas. Constipation, diverticular disease and other constipation-related ailments are linked with lack of dietary fiber (found only in plant foods).
- Enjoy water. People drink large amounts of soft drinks and alcohol, which may contribute to obesity and dental caries. Where possible, quench your thirst with water. Use water rather than sweetened syrups and beverages for infants and children.
- Eat less salt. Sodium from excessive use of table salt and salty processed foods may contribute to high blood pressure. Reducing excess sodium intake from an early age may help to control hypertension. Salt should not be added to food prepared for infants.
- Eat less sugar. High sugar intake is associated with obesity and tooth decay. Sugars, whether white, brown, raw or glucose, are solely an energy source and their nutrient content is negligible.
- Eat a variety of foods each day. Different types of food are necessary to supply the main nutrients required for good heart health. No single food contains all these materials.
The major indicator of heart disease is cholesterol, particularly bad cholesterol, called low-density lipoprotein (LDL). These healthy cooking methods can lower the bad cholesterol in food.
- Spaghetti sauce: After cooking mince until all the red color is gone, pour the contents of the frying pan into a colander and drain off all the fat. Continue with your regular recipe.
- Soups, stews and casseroles: Prepare these dishes a day ahead of time. Refrigerate overnight. Skim off the fat that rises to the top. If you want to thicken them with flour or cornstarch, wait until the fat is removed.
- Sautés: Invest in a non-stick frying pan, in which you can saute with much less oil. Instead of butter, substitute cooking oil. In rare cases when the flavor of butter is indispensable (for mushrooms, for instance) add a teaspoonful of butter to the salad oil. That way you get the flavor without most of the cholesterol.
- Cheese: There are a number of cheeses made with skim milk, including mozzarella and a Norwegian cheese called Jarlsberg. You don’t have to stop serving lasagna, for instance; just substitute skim-milk mozzarella and leave out the ricotta cheese. In parts of northern Italy, very little cheese is used in lasagna; instead, the cooks use a cream sauce which can be made successfully with skim milk.
- Chocolate: Rich chocolate is taboo, but cocoa is all right and can be substituted in many recipes. Three tablespoons of cocoa is the equivalent of an ounce of baking chocolate.
- Bacon and salt pork: Many cooks depend heavily on pork products for flavoring vegetables. If you are one of them add imitation bacon bits after the vegetable is cooked. These bacon bits are also good in salads. A little wine is a good low-cholesterol way to add flavor to stew, casseroles and sauces. Always simmer the sauce long enough to get rid of the alcoholic taste.
Even on a totally vegetarian diet, humans make enough cholesterol to maintain its functions. Eating extra cholesterol simply puts more into the blood. Too much in the blood can lead to a build-up on the linings of the arteries.
Over the years, the artery becomes narrower as the build-up increases. A simple blood clot can then obstruct the artery completely. If this happens near the heart, a heart attack results; if near the brain, a stroke.
Any given weight of fat contains more than twice the calories of the same amount of carbohydrate or protein, so the first principle of sound nutrition – and an obvious answer to the question of what to eat – is to consume far less fat.
Any calorie counting chart will tell you what foods are high in fats and oils – pork and lamb, avocados, coconuts, sardines and nuts, for example. And it will tell you which foods are low in fat:
- lean beef
- skinless chicken
- salad greens
- most white fish
- all fruits
It is quite possible to cut down on fats by studying and memorizing such a chart. It is also time-consuming. A far easier way to cut down is to think in terms of the fats that are added to foods as they are prepared, rather than fats inherent in unprepared foodstuffs. Raw cabbage, for instance, contains only traces of oil, but coleslaw is almost 10 percent oil.
Salt is both the oldest and most popular of all condiments, and is employed in virtually every form of food processing, from canning to ice-cream making.
We have no need to add extra salt at table, yet we go on salting what is put before us. We salt salt-cured meats and salt-saturated vegetables and most of us consume five or six times as much salt as our bodies actually need.
In such quantities salt actually masks, rather than enhances, the flavor of what we eat. This served a very special purpose centuries ago, when much meat was rank, but it defeats the purpose of consuming foods at their peak.
The taste of fried foods is particularly enhanced by salt, and if you can make them less appetizing by not salting them – and so eat fewer chips or deep-fried fish pieces – you will be doing yourself a favor.
It has been said that the real merit of a vegetarian diet lies not in the absence of meat but in the presence of quantities of vegetables. They provide natural vitamins in abundant supply.
Raw or cooked, vegetables need not taste like fodder. The serious dieter can concoct any number of dips and sauces for vegetables out of a low-calorie mayonnaise mixed with chili sauce and a dash of Worcestershire, or yogurt and lemon juice and dill – and although these concoctions will add a few extra calories to each snack or meal, they will also improve the flavor.
Five carrot sticks, undressed and unadorned, are indeed rabbit food; but a tossed salad containing lettuce, cucumber, mushrooms, onions, asparagus spears, carrot curls, radish roses, green pepper slices, tomato wedges, and broccoli, topped with sliced cheese and hard-boiled eggs and tossed with three tablespoons of cream-style dressing is a meal. And it contains fewer calories than a single slice of pecan pie – proof that it is almost impossible to devise a meal that is both high in raw vegetable content and high in calories.
Excess refined sugars may contribute to heart disease, as it can be concentrated into small amounts of food and drinks which require little chewing. This makes it easy to consume excessive energy unintentionally and become overweight.
Refined sugar does make you fat faster than many other foods, even those high in natural sugars, fats and calories. This is because refined sugar is the only nutritionally “pure” staple in our diet; it contains nothing but calories in the form of simple carbohydrates, whereas all other foods, including complex carbohydrates, contain traces of other nutrients.
Sugar, like salt, is an acquired taste. We consume more of it than we need, having acquired our sweet tooth as infants, when first introduced to solid food. Habits so deeply ingrained are all but impossible to reverse, but it is possible for an adult to wean himself or herself from overdependence on sugar. (Some sugar is essential to the diet).
Any diet high in fruits and vegetables will not only be low in calories but also in refined sugars. Most nutritional quackery and dietary foolishness centers round the sugar content of cakes and sweets, cordials and snack foods. These things were once considered no more than “extras” to a balanced meal, but have gradually replaced fruits and vegetables, whole grains and fiber in the Western diet.
People’s notions about the relative merits of such foods tend to be strongly influenced by what they have seen and read. They extol the “natural” qualities of brown sugar, unaware that it is 99 percent refined, one step removed from the white table sugar they hold in contempt. And they praise the virtues of honey, an “organic” sweetener indistinguishable from refined sugar in the body and just as liable as sugar to cause tooth decay.
Heart Healthy Meals for Your Cardiac Diet
These meals are full of fresh, natural and inexpensive foods; they are fast acting and absolutely delicious. As well as tree fruits like oranges, apples, mangoes, peaches and plums, there are several vine fruits and vegetables such as passion fruit, cantaloupe and cucumber.
To add more substance to the cardiac diet we have also included chicken, ham and prawns – with lots of succulent, crisp salad greens.
Vegetarian Family Dinner
- Large glass of carrot juice.
- Very finely shredded raw cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers, tossed with a dressing of oil, lemon juice, and honey.
- Raw shredded beetroot, seasoned with a little lemon juice.
- Lettuce, sliced onions, granules of kelp, sunflower or sesame meal, mixed with a mayonnaise of combined lemon juice, orange juice, oil, raisins, and garlic.
- Steamed green beans.
- Potatoes and pumpkin, mashed in their skins, with chives, garlic, and oil added.
- Wheatmeal biscuits, spread with cashew butter or creamed honey.
- Papaw, mixed with honey and lemon juice, served with yogurt and chopped nuts.
- Bamboo coffee.
- Nuts, ginger, raisins.
- Sweet and Savoury: Large slice of rockmelon (about ¼ of average-sized fruit) and 2 thin slices of lean ham.
- Seafood Special: ½ avocado pear (sliced), mixed with lettuce and 50g prawns, with 1 tablespoon low-calorie dressing.
- Crunchy Bowl: 10 dates, 1 sliced apple, 3 celery stalks chopped, 50g diced Edam cheese.
- Citrus Fruit Mix: 100g cottage cheese mixed with segments of grapefruit, ¼ cucumber, diced few crushed mint leaves.
- Strawberry Surprise: ½ rockmelon with center filled with strawberries and fresh orange juice.
- Tropical Bowl: 1 slice pineapple, 2 kiwi fruit, ½ mango or 2 plums, 1 passion fruit or 1 peach, 2 – 3 tablespoons natural yogurt.
- Sweet and Sour Salad: large salad – lettuce, cucumber, pineapple and 50g lean ham. Dress with lemon and fresh herbs.
- Chicken a l’orange: 100g roast chicken, segments of 1 orange, watercress, 8 black grapes.
- Scalloped Whitebait: One small tin whitebait, 1 breakfast cup white sauce, 1 dessertspoon lemon juice, 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs, plus extra breadcrumbs for topping, 1½ tablespoons butter, cayenne pepper, and salt.
- Eggs Bonne Femme: Four eggs, 2 small onions, 2 tablespoons vinegar, pinch of nutmeg, 4 peppercorns, 1 tablespoon butter, pepper, salt.
- Herring and Tomato Bake: One tin herrings in tomato sauce, 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 cup soaked brown bread, 2 tablespoons melted butter or substitute, lemon juice, paprika, tomato slices, parsley sprigs.
- Lamb Creole with Cheese Toast: One tablespoon finely chopped shallot, 1 tablespoon butter or substitute, 1 small apple, 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 tablespoon finely minced gherkin, few drops chili sauce, ½ teaspoon mixed mustard, ¼ cup wine (may be omitted), 1 cup good white sauce, 2 cups cooked lamb cut into chunky pieces, pepper and salt, pieces of buttered toast, grated cheese.
- Pea Soup: Half pound and split peas, few bacon bones and bacon rinds or pieces, 2 to 2½ pints water, 1 onion, salt, 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves, hot fried croutons.
- Fresh Tomato Soup: One pound ripe tomatoes, few bacon pieces, 1 small onion, 1 pint stock (made with chicken stock cube), 1 dessertspoon soaked sago, 1 dessertspoon margarine, salt, pepper, 1 bayleaf, 1 pint milk.
- Vegetable Soup: Four carrots, 1 small turnip, 1 onion, ½ small cabbage, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon sugar, 3 tablespoons oil, 3 chicken bouillon cubes, 2½ pints water, few bacon bones or pieces, chopped parsley.
- Green Spinach Soup: One bunch spinach, 2 pints stock, 1oz margarine, 1oz flour, salt, pepper.
- Cream of Onion Soup: One pound onions, 2oz margarine, 1½ tablespoons flour, 1¼ pints water, ½ pint milk, salt, pepper.
- Scotch Barley Broth: One and half pounds neck of mutton, 2 carrots, 2 onions, few sticks celery, 4oz barley, salt, pepper, 2 quarts stock or water, chopped paisley.
- Pumpkin Soup: One and a half pounds pumpkin (choose pumpkin with a good, bright color), 1 small onion, pinch sugar, 1¾ pints beef or chicken stock, salt, pepper, margarine, chopped parsley.
- Cream of Vegetable Soup: Three potatoes, 2 carrots, 1 onion, 3 sticks celery, 1¾ pints stock (made with bouillon cubes) or water, 1 tablespoon margarine, 2 tablespoons flour, salt, pepper, ¾ pint milk, chopped parsley.
- Magic Mix: Whisk together 600ml of milk, the juice of 1 large orange, 1 egg and 1 dessertspoon olive oil. This is enough for 2 large glasses, so keep some in the fridge to drink the next day. Add sweeteners to taste – but only if you must. This drink gives you the nutrients you need – protein and vitamins from the egg, minerals from the milk, vitamin C from the orange and fat from the oil.
- Thick Shake: To a carton of natural yogurt add 1 sliced banana or 1 sliced peach or 6 chopped strawberries plus 1 teaspoon honey and 1 dessertspoon wheatgerm. Whisk it all up in a blender – it’s packed with vitamins and minerals. If you don’t have a blender you can still get the same results. All you have to do is mash fruit to a pulp and whisk into the yogurt, then add other ingredients. Makes 1 glass.