BOOK REVIEW: Dr. Janet Bond Brill: the Right Diet Can Help Prevent a Second Heart Attack

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: Dr. Janet Bond Brill: the Right Diet Can Help Prevent a Second Heart Attack

When I was released from the hospital in June 2010, I was wheeled out to the parking lot to await my taxi ride from Victoria to my home in Port Lavaca, Texas, with a fistful of prescriptions, a one-page advisory on maintaining the right diet and exercising -- and two coronary arterial stents.


If you have to have a heart attack, my board certified cardiologist told me, the kind I had was the best. I had no chest pains, but I was sweating much more than usual and I was experiencing nausea to a horrific degree.


With the stents,  proper medication and exercise -- and the right diet -- I'm feeling great now. 


My diet before the June 19th heart incident (I hesitate to call it an "attack")  wasn't bad and I'm a non-smoker, so only a few modifications were necessary. I don't eat much red meat; I love veggies and fruit and  use soy milk in my oatmeal and other whole grain cereal, rather than cow's milk, which my wife loves. I can't stand eggs or chicken (the result of growing up on a Michigan farm where we raised chickens for their meat and their eggs). 



Brill says to avoid both eggs and chicken, but I think she'll make an exception for skinless chicken.  I do love cheese, but I try to eat it sparingly and an occasional (very occasional) French bread pizza in the microwave is just what I need with my glass or two of red wine in the evening. I like an occasional bite of chocolate, which Brill recommends, in moderation. Plus I love nuts, including the walnuts that Brill says are great for heart health, as is the oatmeal that I regularly consumed.


Instead of the cheat-sheet on diet and exercise, which I already followed, a copy of  Janet Bond Brill's "Prevent A Second Heart Attack: 8 Foods, 8 Weeks to Reverse Heart Disease" (Three Rivers Press, 336 pages, $15.00) would have been most welcome. After reading this very accessible book by a woman who has a PhD, and is a registered dietician -- and she's a dedicated foodie! -- I made the proper adjustments, mostly (nobody's perfect!).  The recipes -- both her faves and those from her cooking professional  friends -- sound great and they reinforce the underpinnings of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet that is the book's basis.


Dr. Brill explains 


* Why the Mediterranean diet is the gold standard of heart-healthy eating


* How good carbs such as oatmeal and popcorn lower bad cholesterol, prevent high blood pressure, and control your weight


* The science behind eating fish for heart health


* Why having a glass of red wine with dinner is great for your heart--and which wines are the best choices


* The easiest, most delicious daily habit that will cut your heart attack risk


Brill's book includes exercise tips, and I'm glad my view of walking is shared by her. It's a great form of exercise and can be practiced by just about anyone, without the high-impact dangers of running.


"Prevent A Second Heart Attack" comes complete with every tool you need to eat your way to better heart health--including daily checklists, a complete two-week eating plan, and dozens of mouthwatering recipes to suit every meal, taste, and budget. This is one book I wish I had months ago  when I was pondering my first cardiac incident and how lucky I was to have the right combination of a great primary care physician, an outstanding cardiologist, a wonderful hospital (Texas abounds in those) and an understanding wife. Even if you haven't had your first heart attack (drum roll here!) Brill's book might even prevent the first one.



About the author


JANET BOND BRILL, Ph.D., R.D., LDN, is a diet, nutrition, and fitness expert who has appeared on national television. She is the author of "Cholesterol Down: 10 Simple Steps to Lower Your Cholesterol In 4 Weeks Without Prescription Drugs", and specializes in cardiovascular disease prevention. Dr. Brill lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and three children.


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