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On the Trail of Heart Healthy Recipes

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I don’t know about you, but I love food. Unfortunately food, or the excess thereof, along with eating the wrong kind of food, seems to have some pretty negative consequences to our health. Whether the problem is high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome in general, prevention of these conditions is key to enjoying continued good health, particularly good heart health. It all begins with diet. Too often, what we like to eat seems to be bad for us and most diets put these foods on the list of no-no foods.

The problem is that I’m selfish. I want it all. I want to be heart healthy and still eat the foods I love. So, here I am once again taking a stroll down the internet, hot on the trail of more heart healthy recipes that I can incorporate as a permanent part of my lifestyle of healthy eating. This week, my search took me to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) website. What I found, among other heart healthy items of interest, was the Keep the Beat, Heart Healthy Recipes booklet.

Keep the Beat, Heart Health Recipes is a 156-page booklet which is free, a price which you can’t beat in this economy. The Keep the Beat recipe collection contains more than 100 recipes, all developed with your heart health in mind. There is even a heart healthy version of an old-fashioned bread pudding, a delicacy which I’ve avoided in recent years since even the name implies that it just might not be the most low-calorie, heart healthy item on the menu! Recipe categories include the standards:

• Appetizers and Soups
• Main Dishes (Beef, Pork, Lamb and Veal, Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Pasta and Vegetarian)
• Side Dishes (Vegetables, Potatoes and Rice)
• Bread
• Desserts (Cakes, Fruits, Puddings, Pies and More)
• Toppings and Salad Dressings
• Beverages

Please note that the main dish category contains a section devoted entirely to vegetarian main dishes. In addition, each recipe included in the collection includes information about the yield (i.e. how many it will feed) each recipe produces, along with serving size, and other nutritional additional information such as caloric content, fats, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, protein, carbohydrates and potassium.

This collection also includes additional heart health information regarding y our risk factors and how to address them through dietary lifestyle changes. Recipe substitutions are also included with suggestions of how to turn your traditional, cherished family recipes into leaner more heart friendly recipes. All in all, this is a good resource. While you can order a hardcopy of the booklet, you can also download it directly to your computer for free. (I do like that word – free!)

I mentioned that the NHLBI had other heart healthy recipe collections which you may find of interest. In addition to the Keep the Beat recipe collection, the NHLBI also has several other recipe collections available online which are also free! These recipe collections include:

• Stay Young at Heart. This is an online recipe collection. Many of the recipes included on this site are also in the Keep the Beat recipe collection. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/syah/index.htm

• The DASH Eating Plan. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is an eating plan which specifically targets high blood pressure. The recipes are designed to help those with hypertension lower their blood pressure to healthy limits. The DASH Eating Plan includes a 56-page booklet which is available online or downloadable as a PDF file. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/index.htm

• Heart-Healthy Latino Recipes. Since I’m from Texas and a fan of Mexican food, I was particularly interested in this recipe collection. This 86-page recipe collection includes 26 different Latino recipes which have lower levels of sodium and fat that you might find in traditional recipes. The recipe collection is available in both English and Spanish. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/sp_recip.htm

• Heart-Healthy Home Cooking African American Style. This recipe collection was of great interest to me because I grew up eating most of these foods on a day to day basis and simply thought that these foods were southern. If you love cornbread, homemade biscuits, banana pudding, okra, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, pork chops and peach cobbler, then this heart healthy recipe collection is for you! http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/chdblack/cooking.htm

The NHLBI recipe collections had enough variety to temp even the pickiest eater among us. Whether you're looking for a heart healthy version of salsa or old fashioned peach cobbler, you've come to the right place. Enjoy!

Until next time, here's wishing you a healthy heart.

Keep the Beat, Heart Healthy Recipes: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/ktb_recipebk/ktb_recipebk.pdf

Keep the Beat, Heart Healthy Recipes, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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