The Heart Health Bible by Dr. John M. Kennedy

Release Date - February 2014

Dr. John M. Kennedy
Da Capo Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

As I read The Heart Health Bible: A 5-step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I admit I have mixed feelings. Most of the advice is sound, but there are also aspects where I still feel shortchanged.

It is not a secret that obesity rates are climbing. I see lots of press about it being the foods people eat, but there is little discussion about the lives many are having to live. In my area, kids get 20 minutes for lunch. That time includes standing in line to get lunch, finding an empty seat, cleaning the table after eating, and then getting back to class. My daughter's school has 1,300 kids and there are four lunch periods. That means, the lunch room has 325 students, not to mention staff members, looking for seats and standing in line to get meals. It is really no different than when I was in school 20 years ago. We've all been trained to eat in a rush, which messes with digestion. I feel that is just a big a factor in today's obesity issue.

In The Heart Health Bible, Dr. John M. Kennedy discusses all aspects of heart disease and the five steps to help reverse things now. It follows the HEART principle.

1. H - Heal blood pressure
2. E - Energize the heart
3. A - Act on fat
4. R - Reduce blood sugar levels
5. T - Tackle triglycerides

I have no issues with any of that. It is the advice many doctors have been telling patients for years.

As you work your way through the book, personal stories from Dr. Kennedy's patients appear. That personal touch made this book stand out. Then I reached the section on food choices and that's where I started to run into issues. For the most part, this list is solid. Each of the sections of the HEART principle is covered with a different list.

For H, there are foods like bran flakes, beans, berries, green leafy vegetables (nothing new there), and then the meat list is halibut. That's the only meat listed. Halibut happens to be in the mid-range on the mercury list from the FDA and current guidelines recommend not eating more than six servings per month. Plus, Atlantic halibut has been overfished, putting the fish in danger of disappearing if changes are not made.

Salmon is on the E list, which is fine, IF you like salmon. The risk here is that farmed salmon is the cheapest, easiest salmon to acquire and some farm-raised fish contains PCBs, putting you at a risk for developing cancer and other diseases. Tilapia is another fish mentioned in the A list. Tilapia is rich in Omega-3s, but it also is high in Omega-6, which increases inflammation and raises the risk of forming blood clots. Read more about it at the Mayo Clinic. I start to wonder who is right, who is wrong, or if anyone really knows.

Given this, the only meats I would feel safe eating from these lists are the boneless chicken breast, bison/buffalo, turkey breast, and lean beef, all of which are currently the meats eaten in my house anyway. I was disappointed not to see favorite fish like cod, haddock, pollock, and scrod on this list.

As I ended up with just as many questions as answers, I am really not sure just how valuable I found The Heart Health Bible. You have doctors saying to monitor fish intake due to mercury poisoning, but then there are other books like these listing fish like tuna, halibut, and lake trout as the best meats to eat. It really just gets confusing.


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