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Heart-Healthy Cooking: A Plant-Forward Twist on Meat and Potatoes from Intermountain Health Chefs

Need to improve heart health by lowering cholesterol? Try a plant-forward twist on meat and potatoes.

(PRUnderground) January 28th, 2024

Is improving heart health part of your New Year’s Resolutions? Try substituting one animal protein main course with a plant-based main course – and substituting heavy creams in mashed potatoes for healthier fats, said chef Christopher Delissio of Intermountain Health.

“Instead of fried chicken or steak with mashed potatoes, we recommend giving ratatouille and olive-oil mashed potatoes a try for an easy weekday dinner,” Delissio said. “It’s a beautiful meal full of vegetables and healthier fats, which are better for the heart and can help lower cholesterol.”

Nearly two in five American adults have high cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

High cholesterol doesn’t come with symptoms, so many people don’t know that their levels are too high. Cholesterol levels are determined by a blood test.

Eating foods containing soluble fiber can help to lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber is found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oatmeal and quinoa, healthy fats such as chia seeds and avocados, and in beans and legumes, such as peas.

Soluble fiber works to clear cholesterol from the body. Soluble fiber can’t be absorbed in the intestine. But it can bind itself to cholesterol in the intestine and remove cholesterol from the body that way.

Ratatouille is a plant-based main course, containing fresh eggplant, zucchini or other squash, tomato, herbs and spices.

“It’s quick and easy, and versatile in that you can use in-season vegetables from the garden come spring,” Delissio said.

“Traditional mashed potatoes that are heavy on fat would not be great for your heart or with the ratatouille. But using olive oil, shallots and herbs instead of cream and butter in your mashed potatoes transforms them into an excellent choice for both the ratatouille and your heart,” Delissio said.

“It’s colorful, and is visibly appealing and enticing when plated with care,” Delissio added. “Because we eat with our eyes first, the presentation on the plate is key to encouraging people to try a dish for the first time – and to how much we enjoy that first bite.”

Here are some other tips to reduce cholesterol:

  • Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy products, and eat them in moderation.
  • Try making fiber-rich foods the star of one meal a day. Ratatouille is one way to do this. Another can be to add more beans to a chili recipe and replace beef with ground turkey.
  • When eating out, eat the vegetables that come with an entrée first.
  • Buy one new fruit or vegetable to try each time you visit the grocery store.

More information about nutrition services and healthy eating is available at

About Intermountain Health

Headquartered in Utah with locations in seven states and additional operations across the western U.S., Intermountain Health is a nonprofit system of 33 hospitals, 385 clinics, medical groups with some 3,900 employed physicians and advanced care providers, a health plans division called Select Health with more than one million members, and other health services. Helping people live the healthiest lives possible, Intermountain is committed to improving community health and is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare by using evidence-based best practices to consistently deliver high-quality outcomes at sustainable costs. For more information or updates, see

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