February is Healthy Heart Month, and the goal is to raise awareness about how to be as heart-healthy as possible. The bad news is that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that with self-care through diet and exercise, heart disease is highly preventable.
Even more good news is that lifestyle changes such as improving diet don’t need to be especially difficult. Starting with small steps such as cooking healthy meals at home rather than constantly dining out will help you reach your long-term goals for your best heart health.
Although it was written in 1990, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease still tops the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Diets of 2014 as the Best Heart-Healthy Diet. Dr. Ornish is a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in nearby Sausalito, and author of six books including The Spectrum.
Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease book focuses on the importance of healing your heart physically, mentally, and spiritually. The book is based on the cardiovascular research that Ornish conducted over the span of 14 years. It combines the importance of consuming a heart-healthy diet with effective stress-reducing techniques, which in conjunction lead to a significant improvement in heart health as well as overall health.
Dr. Ornish recommends making homemade meals as often as possible, even over “healthy” store-bought ones. His suggestions for healthy meal ideas include a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon, non-fat milk, a grapefruit half, and brewed tea. Lunch would consist of black bean chili, toasted corn tortilla, green pea “guacamole” and tossed green salad. Dinner would entail white bean and tomato soup with fresh herbs, vegetable cakes with red pepper coulis, corn salad with lime-cilantro dressing on lettuce greens, garlic bread and peach bread pudding.
Eating well is a critical step in preventing heart disease. The holistic principles contained in Dr. Dean Ornish’s book such as incorporating an active lifestyle, home-cooked meals, and opening your heart to inner peace, could easily be applicable to our everyday lives for our best health.