Cast Heart Health in the Leading Role

Think about it.

How much sense does it make for a hospital to have a regular menu and a heart healthy menu? The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has helped build a culture where the “Healthy Heart” diet has achieved celebrity status. At the mere mention of its name, ears perk up and tummies prepare for fibre and low fat to make their famous (sometimes infamous) entrance. And yet, it’s curious to find that in most hospitals, “Healthy Heart” is still considered a special diet. That fact can only lead to the false conclusion that people not prescribed the diet are insusceptible to heart conditions. But that’s not the case! Heart disease has been increasingly shown to be a “pediatric” condition, meaning that it can affect us all even from childhood. Obese children were among the first children to be noticed as having the signs of early heart disease. This shifted the spotlight to shine on the reality that the “regular-Western-diet” should probably not be so regular. The true cause of these early signs of heart disease is still unknown but it can be effectively treated with diet, in particular, the heart healthy diet. So if the heart healthy diet is such a powerful tool, accepted and acknowledged by healthcare professionals, why isn’t it the gold standard? Hospitals have the unique job of ensuring that they have no return customers. Ideally, a sick individual should be able to enter the hospital, receive treatment, and be returned home in better condition than when they left. Feeding recovering patients a regular menu isn’t conducive to that ideal. Especially in the children’s ward. Some children’s wards offer chicken nuggets and brownies as meals, something most parents agree should only be a treat. Keeping fibre high while reducing sodium and fat should be the shifted to become the only regular diet in hospitals in every ward, as the ‘new’ regular diet.

But what about the cost?

Switching the regular diet with heart health may make sense, but it has to be financial sound to truly be considered. And, for once, finances line up with healthcare. Shifting the Heart Healthy diet to become the only regular diet should reduce food costs. In theory, removing an entire diet will drive down food costs because the variety of items in inventory will be greatly reduced. A smaller spectrum of items mean less money is wasted if those items aren’t used. Similarly, removing a large variety of items for the inventory also frees up physical space in storage. Oftentimes, storage space is a huge concern for smaller hospitals and long term care facilities.

Let’s be reasonable.

It makes both logical and financial sense to shift to heart healthy as the regular diet in hospitals. This notion can be extended to long term care and wherever else needs a little preventative care and profit.



Congratulations to Sarah Conway the winner of Burlodge’s Blog Article Writing Contest for the Food and Nutrition Program at Humber College.

She is pictured here on the far right holding her certificate. The winning article is “ Cast Heart Health in the Leading Role”

All of the other students in the picture have had their articles chosen to post on our Kitchen Heat blog.