One of the first things we advise our patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or excess weight is to reduce the consumption of low-fibre starchy carbohydrates. We are now consuming these foods in excess, usually as the main bulk of our meals. These foods are quickly digested into their simple sugar building blocks (along with excess add sugar in our diets) and lead to peaks in blood sugar/insulin response which is a great way to store fat and trigger cardiovascular risk factors. Typical examples in the UK are white flour products e.g. bread, pasta, white rice and potato. Now, it’s important to be clear — we are not against these delicious foods but most of us are too reliant on these as our main staple.
What we are finding is that most of our patients respond with, “What then do we eat?”. The concept we want to highlight is of CARB SWAPS where we start to substitute some of these low-fibre, starchy, easy to digest carbohydrates with ones that are rich in protective fibre. Good for your cardiovascular system and increasingly recognised to be fundamental for the health of our microbiome (which in turn appears to be linked to everything from immunity to cardiovascular health and even mood).
Here we want to showcase a great CARB SWAP — LENTILS. We should all eat more lentils. They are delicious, cheap, easy to prepare and one of the highest fibre containing foods you can consume. This Lentil Ragu is a perfect illustration which can be eaten on its own as a vegetarian delight but works beautifully with chicken, fish or beef. In this case we have used cheap skirt steak to enhance the thrifty nature of the meal. The photo makes it look rather rare (which we like) but it is perfectly acceptable to cook it more.