Dr. Janet Brill and I have something in common - we are both health and fitness experts who are married to men with heart disease. The difference is that my husband had some pre-heart attack symptoms so we can at least try to prevent the first heart attack from happening. In fact, this book review opportunity came to me when I was with hubby in Miami consulting with cardiologists, all of whom told us that a big "lifestyle change" was in order.
Dr. Brill watched her father die at the young age of 65 after his second heart attack. He had 20 years in between attacks with no lifestyle advice or changes. So when her husband Sam had his first heart attack in 2009, Dr. Brill decided to write a guide to help Sam, along with all the men and women like him, live a long and healthy life.
I know that in my household things must be simple. No crazy diets with special foods and tons of supplements and things that taste bad. Good, simple, basic foods are in order. And there needs to some fat (my classically trained chef can live with alternatives to butter, but will not be fat-free) and some dessert involved. Exercise is great, but not too long, too intense, or too complex. So when I saw the subtitle to Prevent A Second Heart Attack - 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease I thought, "this sounds like it might work."
The eight foods are all easy to find and use - extra virgin olive oil (there's the fat), greens/vegetables, figs/fruits, lentils/legumes, salmon/seafood, walnuts/flaxseeds, oatmeal/whole grains, red wine, and the bonus dark chocolate/cocoa (dessert!) - and they satisfy major food cravings. Add in some regular walking, maybe a bit of strength training, and you are good to go.
Throughout the book Dr. Brill does offer up the science behind her claims, giving many reasons why certain foods and fitness are good for the heart. Olive oil, for example, boosts our total antioxidant capacity, protects against free radicals, raises HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol, fights inflammation, lowers blood pressure, improves blood sugar, makes blood less likely to clot (like aspirin), and balances the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio. I knew it was good for me, but had no idea how good for me!