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by Christel Swasey

The Heart-Healthy Meal Makeover

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death on earth.

That means that we more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from any other killer.

Although exercise and diet can truly prevent or delay cardiovascular disease, many people live in a state of denial, neither exercising nor eating a heart-healthy diet.  It’s crazy.  It’s like someone ran screaming into the room, shouting “Fire!” and most of us just stayed seated.

More people would live a heart-healthy lifestyle if they just knew how easy it can be.  With so many confusing and conflicting diets and health advisors, what’s a person to believe?  Is it necessary to buy the latest diet fad cookbook each year?  Is it necessary to learn every detail about the chemistry of the body and the nutritional values of individual edibles?

Nope.

What you do need is to learn how to think, which will be outside your own usual comfort food cooking box.  You can easily make over your own favorite cuisine without needing to read anyone else’s best guesses.

Just use common sense.  In countries with extremely low rates of heart disease, like Japan, France, or the Republic of Kiribati, cooks work and think a bit differently than most North American cooks do.

Meat is a complement.

To these healthier cooks, meat is a complement, not a centerpiece, of a meal. (Bye, bye cholesterol!)  And unprocessed, unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables form the core of what is cooked.  Heart healthy oils are used rather than lardy bad fats.  And that is IT.  Nothing is complicated here.

I thought of a little mind game to play with yourself, to outsmart the society you live in.  Ignore the diet sellers.  Forget about counting calories.  Pretend you live on a glorious island, and when you enter your grocery store, you become blind to aisles that offer processed, refined items.  Because they don’t exist on your healthy, green island.

White bread?  Can’t see it.  The soda pop aisle?  Gone.  The crackers and chips aisle?  Invisible.  All you see are colorful fruits, luscious berries, vivacious vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil, whole grains, and fresh fish or a small amount of other meat.

You are as one living off the resources of a green island in the middle of a blue sea.  Your protein will be from the fish you caught fresh from your canoe.  Your dessert will be from the pineapple or coconut that you harvested yourself.  (Climbing the coconut tree counts for the exercise portion.)  Your carbohydrates come from breadfruit, bananas, and whole grain rice.  See?  It is not hard to live like a native, to treat your heart royally, and to entertain nothing but the freshest, least man-made, most healthful foods.

Just let yourself “oooh” and “ahhh” over the healthy, unrefined island fantasy, and let those sludge-in-your-arteries, toxins-for-your-headache aisles of the grocery store stay invisible, and totally unimportant to you.  The insanity of stores’ pushing candy bars on human beings as they stand in line to pay for their groceries is unbelievable.  The “ca-ching” of the cash register adding up a few more pennies matters more to the grocery store than your health.  They are not on your side nor will they weep at your funeral.  Ignore the call of that colorfully wrapped, charmingly titled extra helping of cholesterol and sugar (read, heart disease and diabetes) that your grocer wants you to add to your bill.  Just pretend you are on the island, where candy bars do not grow!

(This is true:  In the little Republic of Kiribati, a country of 32 islands, only 11 people out of 100,000 die of coronary heart disease.  Think about it.)

Since we are so prone to disease and health issues, it is important that we get cheap health insurance to protect our family. The form at the top of the page will allow you to compare health insurance quotes.

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