Forget the Burgers


A major facet of a person's recovery from a heart attack involves change in diet. High-fat fast foods, much red meat and other...

A major facet of a person’s recovery from a heart attack involves change in diet. High-fat fast foods, much red meat and other lifelong favorites are often put on the forbidden list.

Forget the burgers at almost any quick-serve outlet. Forget many of the Far Eastern dishes you might have enjoyed. Following my cardiac event, we utilized the services of a nutritionist friend to revamp our diets. My wife figured a cardiac diet would do her well in many fitness aspects as well.

Our nutritionist confirmed diet’s importance in this situation, along with medication and exercise, as the keys to recovery. She gave us a guideline to look at as far as the fat content of a product is concerned.

“Three grams of fat — including all types – per 100 calories is what you need to look for,’’ she said.

Luckily, most products are now rid of man-made trans-fats, the leader in clogging a person’s arteries, but all the other fats that remain — saturated and unsaturated – can add up quickly. She also, along with my cardiologist, mentioned one fat which quite beneficial – the Omega 3 fatty-acid group, found in fish, especially salmon, and certain nuts like walnuts.

For the recovering cardiac patient, the pitfalls are everywhere:

• A McDonald’s Big Mac, without cheese, has 576 calories, of which 292 are from fat. The product contains 32.5 grams of total fat — 50 percent of your daily requirement on a 2,000-calorie diet – 12 grams of saturated fat (60 percent), 103 milligrams of cholesterol (34 percent), 742 milligrams of sodium (31 percent) and 38.7 grams of total carbohydrates (13 percent). The consumer does get 31.8 grams of protein and 31 percent of his or her iron for the day.

• Taco Bell’s 7-Layer Burrito won’t fit a cardiac diet, either. It has 530 calories, of which 189 are from fat. Twenty-one grams of fat are 31 percent of a daily allowance. The product also contains 1,400 milligrams of sodium (58 percent). A person does get 18 grams of protein and 30 percent of calcium and 20 percent of iron required in a day. There also are 9 grams of dietary fiber, 36 percent of a daily requirement.

Many packaged and prepared foods have much too much fat and sodium for a cardiac diet. What would you instruct your patients to do? Use their imagination and food-preparation know-how?

Here are some tasty alternatives we have come up with in our house:

• A pizza made with a whole wheat crust (another subject worth discussion), non-fat mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce made with no salt and several vegetable toppings. A friend calls it “a healthy pizza.’’

• Salmon hot dogs with plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids. They are available in many stores and have 15 percent of the sodium one needs in day, but are a healthy alternative to regular franks.

• Hebrew National has a 97 percent fat-free kosher hot dog that has earned the American Heart Association dietary seal of approval.

• Coffee cakes made with whole-wheat flour and non-fat sour cream.

• A brand of smoked salmon known as Wildcatch, which has just 12 percent sodium per serving and plenty Omega 3 fatty acid.

We’ll explore a lot more of these recipes over the coming weeks. Eating healthy is certainly not boring.

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