Cooking for the heart

Demo features Mediterranean-style food

Demo features Mediterranean-style food

January 30, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Often, when Tim Higgins is preparing dinner, he starts in his yard.

This time of year, he harvests root vegetables such as beets and carrots for dishes such as grated carrot and beet salad.

The salad is one of two dishes Higgins will prepare Thursday, Feb. 7, during a cooking demonstration that is part of Wisdom from the Heart: Heart Healthy Eating. The presentation is a women's health forum presented by Washington County Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation and Congestive Heart Failure programs and Women's Specialty Associates.

The event is being held to connect with Wear Red Day, which is Feb. 1 nationally, said Pam Peitz, program manager for the hospital's Cardiac Rehabilitation and Congestive Heart Failure programs.


Wear Red Day is designed to increase awareness of the prevalence of heart disease among women, Peitz said. The day was established by the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Statistics about cardiovascular disease are eye-opening. The American Heart Association's Web site says one in three women has some form of cardiovascular disease. Since 1984, cardiovascular disease has killed more women than men. In 2004, 459,096 women and girls in the U.S. died of cardiovascular diseases, whereas all forms of cancer combined to kill 267,058 women and girls.

Fresh food is good for the heart

Higgins, a dietitian at Robinwood Endocrinology, created the recipes in the late 1990s when he was chef and owner of The Village Pantry in Quogue on Eastern Long Island, N.Y.

One of the keys to eating heart healthy is eating fresh food, Higgins said. Due to busy schedules, many people today opt for convenient meals. Even when cooking at home, many people use canned vegetables or processed foods that have preservatives added to sustain their shelf life.

Canned food contains lots of sodium to preserve the food. Excess sodium has been linked with blood pressure problems, an issue people with heart disease need to be careful with, Higgins said. People should try to keep their daily sodium intake to 2 to 3 grams, he said.

With fresh food, you can apply the type and amount of salt you want.

Higgins uses kosher salt, which he says tastes better than regular salt, so less of it is needed to flavor food. A pinch is usually plenty, he said.

Higgins said he thinks the difficulty some people have with eating heart healthy is they make healthy recipes overly complicated. He urges people to use a few simple steps. A couple of ideas: Use fresh ingredients, such as vegetables and fruits. Make healthier choices about fats and oils - Higgins recommends using extra virgin olive oil, which is a good source of monounsaturated fats. Studies have shown that monounsaturated fats raise HDL or good cholesterol levels, Higgins said.

Low levels of HDL cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association's Web site.

Show and tell

Higgins chose Mediterranean-style food to prepare for the cooking demo because medical literature has associated the Mediterranean diet with good heart health.

Forum attendees will receive a recipe book containing 25 to 30 Mediterranean-style recipes.

Peitz said a large screen will be set up so attendees can see chopping and other details of Higgins' cooking demonstration.

In addition to the demonstration and dinner, Dr. Girish T. Reddy, a cardiologist with Hagerstown Heart, will discuss how to take a more active approach to protect cardiovascular health.

The event begins with refreshments and a marketplace featuring women-oriented products and services including mini-massages, beauty tips, blood pressure screenings, heart disease risk factor screenings and a tea party with sample teas and appetizers, Peitz said. The marketplace is included with the $20 registration fee.

If you go ...

WHAT: Wisdom from the Heart: Heart Healthy Eating, a Women's Health Forum, presented by Washington County Hospital Cardiac Rehabilitation and Congestive Heart Failure programs and Women's Specialty Associates

WHEN: 4:30 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 7

WHERE: Conference Room 142, Robinwood Medical Center, 11110 Medical Campus Road, east of Hagerstown

COST: Registration is $20 per person. Must register by Wednesday, Feb. 6.

MORE: For more information or to register, call 888-803-1518.

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