Your Happy Healthy Heart

Fifteen years ago, Dr. Dean Ornish revolutionized our approach to heart disease when he demonstrated that individuals with serious heart disease could reverse their condition with lifestyle changes (that did not include the use of medication). His 4-point program for reversing heart disease included:
1.      a very low fat vegetarian diet (less than10% calories from fat),
2.      stress management and group support (with techniques such as yoga and improved communications),
3.      aerobic exercise (such as daily walking),
4.      avoidance of smoking.

After one year, 82 percent of the experimental group participants experienced regression of their disease, as demonstrated by angiograms conducted at the beginning and end of the year, while in the control group the disease continued to progress. The control group (using a “heart healthy” diet with less than 30 percent fat) followed a diet commonly prescribed by physicians that provided 30 percent or less calories from fat, and less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. Over the next 4 years people in the experimental group continued to reverse their arterial damage, while those in the control group had got steadily worse and had twice as many cardiac events.

This program was repeated with other heart disease patients, in California-based retreats, and in centers throughout North America. Brenda Davis (who is my Kelowna-based co-author on “Becoming Vegetarian” and “Becoming Vegan”) and I had the very good fortune to be staff dietitians with some of these retreats.

In 1999, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn reported on a small but intensive study that followed 11 heart disease patients over a period of 12-years during which they followed a low-fat vegan diet, coupled with cholesterol-lowering medication. Approximately 70 percent experienced reversal of their disease. In the eight years prior to the study these patients experienced a total of 48 cardiac events, while during the 12 years, only one non-compliant patient experienced an event.

This spring in the Okanagan, there will be a seminar for health professionals, (Kelowna April 8), and another for the public (Kelowna April 9) repeated in Penticton April 9 (for details, see www.okanaganhealthforum.com. Presenters will include Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Arrest & Reversal Therapy for Coronary Heart Disease), Brenda Davis, myself, and Dr Colin Campbell (The China Study).

As the dust settles around the high carb/low carb diet furor, one guideline has become crystal clear. If you want to quickly and significantly reduce your risk of chronic disease (diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and/or wish to drop some excess weight, a cardinal rule is to eat only intact grains. This means whole, unbroken grains such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and oat groats. In the process, you will eliminate refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white sugar, and even products made with whole grain flour; you will avoid crackers, pasta, bakery products, and bread. When wheat and other grains are ground into flour, the grain cells are broken. Whole grains that have been ground into flour have a significantly different effect on blood glucose levels; intact grains are far more supportive of excellent health. aggressive as possible.


This is the way we should really be consuming grains, for diabetes

This aggressive approach to cleaning up your carbohydrate intake leads to an instant change in blood glucose (for those with diabetes) and blood cholesterol (for those with coronary artery disease). It automatically and drastically reduces your intake of processed foods, since so many are flour based. The recipe below is a great way to begin the adventure of using whole grains. Plus, it’s a heart warming way to start the day on a cold February morning.

Whole Grain Cereal

This recipe makes a satisfying and delicious breakfast for a family. It also can be used for one or two people, since leftovers can be refrigerated and used for several days as a nourishing, soothing, and slightly sweet snack, as a warm cereal or cold pudding.

Grain combinations: Use 1/3 cup each of brown rice, wheat berries, and millet or barley; or 1/3 cup each of oat groats, kamut berries, and millet or barley. For a high protein yet gluten free combination, choose 1/3 cup each of any three of these: brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, or amaranth. Create combinations that are uniquely yours.

Dried Fruit: Experiment with raisins, cranberries, currants, or chopped apricots, prunes, figs or dates.

1 cup               uncooked grain (for example, use 1/3 cup each of combinations above)
4 cups              water
1/2 tsp             salt (or to taste )
1/2 cup            dried fruit
1/2 cup           fortified soymilk or rice milk

Place grains, water and salt (if using) in the top of double boiler or a heavy pot and bring to a boil. If using a double boiler, place above boiling water and simmer for 2-3 hours. If pan is directly over heat, lower heat, and simmer for 2-3 hours, checking occasionally that it does not boil dry. If necessary, add a little water. Add dried fruit and milk and cook for another 1/2 hour. Serve with fresh fruit and your choice of milk.

Makes 5 cups
Per cup: calories: 201, protein: 6 g, fat: 2 g, carbohydrate: 42 g, dietary fiber: 4 g, calcium: 52 mg (plus that in added milk), iron: 1.7 mg, magnesium: 34 mg, sodium: 256 mg, zinc: 1.2 mg.

% calories from:    protein 11%,    fat 8%,    carbohydrate 81%

Vesanto Melina is a registered dietitian, internationally known speaker and consultant, based near Fort Langley. She is author of seven books including the “Food Allergy Survival Guide”. For consultations, call Fort Integrated Health Clinic at 604-888-8325 or her home office at 604-882-6782. Vesanto’s website iswww.camd58.sg-host.com.


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