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Guest Commentary: Great news: Heart healthy meals have arrived

By Staff | Jan 17, 2018

The few times I’ve been in a local hospital, I have been dismayed to find that many of the meals on hospital menus read like a list of “what not to eat.” It is always a relief to be released from a hospital, but in the past one of my reasons was to go home and get some healthy food.

It seems like the light bulb has gone on at Lee Health. They recently announced that it has become the first health care system in the United States to offer select menu items Heart-Check certified by the American Heart Association. Seven menu items have been Heart-Check certified and are available to patients, visitors and staff in Lee Health’s hospitals in Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital.

The Heart-Check mark on a Lee Health menu item means the recipe has been certified to satisfy the American Heart Association’s nutritional requirements, including specific guidelines for calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and beneficial nutrients. The Heart-Check makes it simple for patients and cafe customers in the four Lee Health hospitals to identify healthy dining choices and gives them peace of mind that they are consuming heart-smart meals.

The next time you visit one of Lee Health’s locations (hopefully when you’re visiting a friend and not there yourself) here are a few of the items that sound healthy and appealing:

– Grilled salmon on bed of fresh organic spinach with quinoa, lemon vinaigrette and mandarin oranges

– Pasta with meat sauce served with an organic spring mix salad and apple slices

– Whole grain waffle with fat-free vanilla yogurt, topped with strawberries, blueberries and bananas

– Fresh fruit plate, fat-free yogurt and oat bran fruit muffin

– Egg white omelet with veggies, grits, a blueberry banana muffin and melon cup

I’m not saying that you’d choose those items over breakfast at Over Easy or dinner at Il Cielo, but if you’ve got to be there, at least you have some reasonable menu choices.

The American Heart Association will be with us on Sanibel for the Fifth Annual Sanibel/Captiva Heart Walk on Jan. 28. It takes place at the Sanibel Community House starting at 2 p.m. Platinum sponsors for the walk are the Sanibel/Captiva Trust Company and Il Cielo.

Heart healthy refreshments are being supplied by Bailey’s, which has been providing snacks for our walk every year. All the heart healthy ingredients are available at your local neighborhood grocery store, Bailey’s. They also offer some of the menu items fully prepared for a quick, easy and healthy meal. We appreciate their support!

To join a team or donate please visit www.SanibelCaptivaHeartWalk.org. If you are interested in becoming one of our sponsors or for further information regarding the walk, please contact Lee Heart Walk Director Kelly Glewa at 239-340-2407 or Sandy Teger 973-420-3233.