The Kardea Gourmet: A Book Review

Learn how to eat for your health and reverse disease; deliciously!
By Brooke Holmgren

Mark Twain sadly reasoned that the only way to good health was to eat and drink what you what don’t like and don’t want. A new book by preventive cardiologist Richard Collins MD, self-described food passionisto Rob Leighton, and Susan Buckley, a registered dietitian, takes the opposite view and shows how delicious foods can be healthy, and even reverse disease!
    
Part nutrition handbook and part cookbook, The Kardea Gourmet: Smart and Delicious Eating for a Healthy Heart (Linx, 2011) looks beyond the Mediterranean, South Beach, and Atkins diets. “Human beings love to eat and love to eat well,” says Dr. Collins. “Diet by deprivation does not work and weight loss using unhealthy foods can do harm. Our book gives our readers the knowledge, cooking techniques, and recipes to navigate their own approach to heart-healthy eating.”
    
The authors emphasize healthy eating does not start with a focus on the macronutrient balance—the fat, protein, and carbohydrate levels debated among many dieters. Comparing successful nutritional approaches, the authors find that the common element lies with an emphasis on whole, natural, plant-based eating—high in a countless number of micronutrients and complex carbohydrates, while being sharply lower in protein than many Americans believe is necessary for good health.
    
The Kardea Gourme
t is divided into three easy-to-read sections: Understanding your Risks, The Power of Heart Healthy Nutrition, and From Text to Table—Recipes. Readers with no prior nutritional knowledge can learn how to eat heart healthy while the more knowledgeable reader will gain insights on a holistic approach for improving cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammatory levels while controlling weight and blood sugar.
    
The authors explore an emerging area of nutritional research: postprandial metabolism—the four to six hours after a meal when inflammation rises and cholesterol can do much of its damage. Readers of The Kardea Gourmet learn a new way to balance foods to support a healthy post-meal burn as opposed to continuing the eating patterns that ignite an inflammatory wildfire.
    
Section II explains nutrients that improve heart health and can even reverse heart damage. The Kardea Gourmet also contains easy-to-read charts containing information on nutrients, the foods they’re found in, and how much each food contains.
    
This section also explores the role of dietary supplements to support heart health. Micronutrients, such as plant sterols, block cholesterol from entering your blood stream through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber in beans and fruit also lower cholesterol by blocking absorption. The cardiovascular benefits of vitamin D, niacin, potassium, and red yeast rice are also presented in depth.
    
Section II also explains how and why cardiovascular ailments are so prevalent in American society. With the cumulative effects of eating out of the home more often (a meal in a restaurant contains about 60 percent more calories than one cooked at home), lack of physical activity (not even exercise, but walking to the grocery store, school, or to a friends house is rare), overeating, and the poor quality of food available, it’s no wonder heart disease is common. The Kardea Gourmet advocates for a heart-healthy lifestyle and provides tips, goals, and situations you may encounter that can either hinder or help you lower your risk for a cardiovascular event.
    
In addition to explaining what to eat for a healthy heart, section III of The Kardea Gourmet serves as a cookbook with recipes demonstrating how to get started on your journey toward smart and delicious eating. These recipes are simple to follow, calling for ingredients such as white wine, shrimp, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, and liberal use of high-antioxidant spices…there are no ingredients that you can’t find at your local grocery store. With recipes titled “Shrimp with Walnut Pesto and Vegetables,” “Vegan Barley Paella,” and “Roast Tuna with Rosemary,” who can resist eating well?