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When I ordered this book I was under the impression that it was just a cookery book, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was a substantial introductory section written by a dietician, Catherine Collins, that explains how cholesterol travels round the body, how it builds up and why this is dangerous, how to reduce your risk factors, what a healthy-heart diet is and why a Mediterranean diet is one to be seriously considered. This section is followed by one hundred healthy and delicious recipes from chef Daniel Green.
I have known for about thirty years that I have high cholesterol but have never been offered or sought medication for the condition, prefering to keep to a sensible diet (well, most of the time). This is the first time I have come across a cookery book that focuses on giving recipes for those with raised cholesterol, so I felt it was important to add it to my collection.
The introductory section by Catherine Collins contains a wealth of information. I hadn't for example, previously heard of phytochemicals, which she says 'possess powerful antioxidant abilities'. There is a very clear table indicating where to find the different types, such as anthocyanins which are contained in aubergines, cherries, bilberries, etc., and surprisingly enough E163 food colouring. At least there is one E number that is beneficial to our health!
Chef Daniel Green's introductory page reiterates Collins' view that the Mediterranean style of cooking is one of the healthiest. He hopes to encourage more people to try out his 'simple and delicious' fish recipes. He never uses butter or cream, but emphasises that sesame oil and walnut oil are low in saturated fat, just as olive oil is.
The first recipe section on Breakfasts and Brunches covers a host of suggestions for the morning, from porridge to fresh salmon kedgeree. I was interested to see that the Spanish omelette uses only six eggs to serve six people, really keeping the cholesterol down, but the addition of three large poatoes would make it more filling. Daniel Green is of the opinion that it is as good cold as hot. I must admit I've never tried cold omelette.
Soups and Salads has three Thai recipes, a couple of French ones, Spanish gazpacho and good old chicken soup, as well as a few others. There should be something to please every taste here.
Sides, Snacks and Starters: you're even allowed chips here baked in the oven in either olive or rapeseed oil. There is also a classic American burger, made of course with lean minced Angus beef and brown breadcrumbs. Other than that, there are several fish, chicken and vegetarian recipes.
Main Courses are dominated by fish recipes, with a good choice of chicken and vegetarian dishes as well. You can indulge in Moroccan lamb on couscous or Chinese wok-fried pork if you can't forego red meat. I was quite surprised by the inclusion of calf's liver wasabi mash, but in actual fact the amount of saturated fat it contains is lower than that of the lamb and pork dishes.
Desserts show a photograph of a stack of plain and milk chocolate opposite the opening page, but I was glad not to find any recipes that included milk chocolate. Most of the recipes are based on fruit, but there is a light crème brulee made with yogurt as well as a delicious-sounding light chocolate torte whose ingredients include prunes and coffee. The section ends with a chocolate fridge cake.
Basic Recipes include sauces, dips, dressings and different types of stock.
Each recipe gives the number of calories, the amount of fat, the amount of saturated fat and the amount of sodium per serving. Although not every recipe is illustrated, there are plenty of colour photographs, some covering a full page, to tempt you and give you an idea of what some of the dishes should look like.
The index is followed by a page of Resources that gives contact details for the British Heart Foundation, H.E.A.R.T. and the British Dietetic Association in the UK; the American Heart Association; the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada; then the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Heart Support Australia.
This is an excellent recipe and information book, although I was perhaps expecting more emphasis on foods containing insoluble fibre such as oat bran which are said to have a positive effect on lowering cholesterol. That's why I have awarded four stars as opposed to five. As it is, the emphasis is on a low-fat diet with plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish, which would surely benefit a great number of people.
Healthy Eating for Lower Cholesterol
by Daniel Green and Catherine Collins
Kyle Cathie Limited, Paperback, 144 pages
£12.99 (Amazon £5.84)