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Heart Smart in the Kitchen
February 20, 2012
The GW Women’s Heart Center partners with Whole Foods to bring heart healthy cooking classes to women with heart disease.
In honor of February being heart month, the George Washington Women’s Heart Center is sponsoring a 28-day healthy eating challenge and providing four free workshops for its patients with heart disease.
Whole Foods nutritionists are teaching the women about the importance of a heart-healthy diet through cooking demonstrations and interactive educational sessions.
“Controlling your blood pressure, sodium intake and cholesterol – all of those things are strongly related to healthy eating,” said Jannet Lewis, director of the Women’s Heart Center. “Proper nutrition decreases your risk of having heart disease.”
In the U.S., about 13 million people have coronary artery disease, which occurs when the coronary arteries – the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart – become blocked or narrowed. Over the course of a year, 1.2 million people will experience a heart attack. Heart disease affects women in particular as it’s the leading cause of death among women. Smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or obese and eating an unhealthy diet increase your risk of developing heart disease.
The workshops are focusing on Whole Foods’ four pillars of healthy eating: whole food, plant-strong, healthy fats and nutrient dense.
Food should be eaten in its purest state without artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings or preservatives, said Kimberly Bryden, marketing and community relations team leader at the Whole Foods Market Foggy Bottom.
“A lot of Americans have their plates of chicken, potatoes and a roll. It’s all this bland color,” said Ms. Bryden. “The majority of your dinner plate should be raw and cooked vegetables, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.”
Instead of consuming extracted oils and processed fats, reach for healthy fats from whole plant sources such as nuts, seeds and avocados.
And lastly, foods should be chosen that are rich in micronutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The workshops are also stressing sodium reduction and whole grain consumption. Cooking demonstrations are showing the women how to add flavor without using salt or added sugar and how to cook without oil by just sweating onions or using vegetable broth or water.
“We hope the women take what they’ve learned and implement it into their daily lives,” said Dr. Lewis, a professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The GW Women’s Heart Center is a joint program between the GW Medical Faculty Associates and the Cheney Cardiovascular Institute.
Three years ago, Eveldeen Johnson had a heart attack. Thankfully, she was able to make a full recovery, but she knew she had to make some big changes in her life.
“Before my heart attack, I always made excuses for why I wasn’t eating better,” said Ms. Johnson, now 59. “But no matter what you’re going through, you need to eat healthy because the heart isn’t going to wait.”
Today, Ms. Johnson, a patient of Dr. Lewis, eats fresh vegetables and fruit, brown rice instead of white and steel cut oats.
“The workshops are really nice,” she said. “They’re very informative.”
As part of the 28-Day Challenge, the women are keeping a food journal and documenting everything they eat so they can track their progress. The Whole Foods nutritionists will also be teaching the women how to read food labels.
“You should be picking the products that list ingredients that you could find in a grocery store yourself,” said Ms. Bryden.
The Whole Foods Market Foggy Bottom offers free community classes, store tours and one-on-one consultations. Any member of the GW community can contact Ms. Bryden at Kimberly.Bryden@wholefoods.com to schedule an individual consultation or group workshop.
Here’s a list of the top 30 super foods – foods that provide the most nutrients relative to their total calories, which are key to weight loss and improved health.
- Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens
- Bok Choy
- Broccoli Rabe
- Chinese/Napa Cabbage
- Brussel Sprouts
- Swiss Chard
- Romaine Lettuce
- Red Pepper
- Carrot Juice
- Tomatoes and Tomato Products
- Pomegranate Juice
- Beans (all varieties)
- Seeds: Flaxseed, Sunflower, Sesame
- Pistachio Nuts