Review by Scott Keith
It’s easy to slip into fast food mode. Grab a quick burger or slice of pizza. Zip over to the convenience store for a sticky bun, bag of chips or corn dog. In this day and age, there are simply not enough hours in the day to prepare three wholesome, nutritious meals. And who has the time to exercise? If this is your attitude, you could be flirting with heart disease.
Elaine Magee, also known as “The Recipe Doctor,” has written an easy-to-follow compendium of heart-healthy advice titled, “Tell Me What To Eat If I Suffer From Heart Disease: Nutrition You Can Live With.” Magee clues the reader in on critical risk factors for heart disease and offers pages of heart-smart recipes, including, no kidding, brownies!
According to Magee, there’s a history of heart disease on her mother’s side of the family. She recalls that her great-grandfather was a butcher; he brought up all his sons on marbled meat and extra-rich milk. His sons all died at around age 50 from heart disease or stroke. “It was like boom, boom, boom, and boom.” Yet Magee’s mother, who moved to America at a young age, is doing well at the age of 76. “You can take your genetics and your predisposition and you can make the best of it.”
Magee, in an interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, says the typical American diet encourages overeating. Part of the problem is portion size. “The more you’re served, the more you tend to eat.” We’re also not eating mindfully. “If you’re just shoveling food in your mouth at a warp speed…you’re more likely to not pay attention to what’s comfortable,” says Magee. Newer research, she adds, suggests a “tempting trifecta” of fat, sugar and salt in our favorite American foods. “This combination seems to, and we need to know more… encourage overeating by sort of dulling our natural ability to compensate for these extra calories.”
In the first chapter, Magee, a nutritionist who has written nearly 30 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, introduces her readers to The Who, What, Where, Why, and How of Heart Disease. Learn the signs and symptoms of heart attacks and strokes. And, YES, women do experience different heart attack symptoms. Magee carefully documents six steps, including quitting smoking, that will prevent over 27 million heart attacks and approximately 10 million strokes (in the United States alone) throughout the next 30 years.
As you read this book, you’ll be tempted to jot down your numbers and remember them. No, not your social security and employee ID numbers. We’re talking blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, to name a few. Yes, the very numbers your doctor lectures you about at your annual physical. “I love that chapter (Know your Numbers) because it tells all the different numbers somebody might throw at you over the course of being diagnosed or being told this, or told that. It lays it out for you,” says Magee.
If you’re a chef-at-heart, and want to keep your blood pumping at a healthy clip, Magee’s book offers up some great tips. Chapter four provides Heart Smart Versions of Your Favorite Recipes. After reading the Recipe Doctor’s 10 Heart Smart Cooking Commandments, try your luck at a number of delicious meals. Start your day with a High -Fiber Breakfast Bagel. Lunches and light dinner entrees can include a Chicken Enchilada Casserole or Beef and Beer Chili. What baby boomer guy can resist this? Magee says meals need to taste good. “If it doesn’t taste good, it’s not in my book…I want these recipes to be recipes people come back to again and again and again.”
It’s not just food and exercise we need to be aware of. Consider how clean your mouth is. Magee points to a University of Buffalo study where, Magee writes, researchers found that an increase in the number of periodontal bacteria increased the odds of having a heart attack. Another good reason to brush, floss and use mouthwash.
If you’re a confirmed couch potato with a big belly, and you want to start improving your health, Magee suggests: Eat a heart-smart diet emphasizing high-nutrient, low-calorie foods with smart carbs, smart fats, and lean protein; get active with regular exercise almost every day (about 40 minutes); drink only a moderate amount of alcohol; keep your waist trimmer than your hips; and decrease the stress and anxiety in your life. A tall order? Maybe. But Magee’s book will guide you, step by step. Magee will even show you a new way to shop at the supermarket!
191 pages, softback, New Page Books, $12.99 ($9.35 at Amazon.com, as of this writing). Also available at most book stores. (Magee suggests you call ahead and put a copy on hold).
Visit Elaine Magee and learn more about her “Tell Me What To Eat” book series at www.recipedoctor.com.