Healthy Hearts Dining Program

Healthy Hearts Dining Program

Charlotte Regional Medical Center has partnered with area restaurants to offer heart-healthy food items and heart-healthy alternatives on their menus as part of Charlotte Regional’s exciting new Healthy Hearts Dining Program.

“The purpose of the program is to help our patients, as well as members of our community, adhere to dietary guidelines and restrictions set forth by physicians,” said Elise Gowan, RD LD/N, clinical dietitian. “We offer free dietary classes to the community, teaching them how to prepare heart-healthy dinners at home. However, people are often confused or don’t know the right questions to ask at a restaurant when trying to determine if a menu item is truly heart healthy for them.”
Healthy Hearts Dining Program Logo
Since Punta Gorda is blessed with so many wonderfully enticing restaurant choices, Gowan felt it was important to work with the restaurants so heart health conscious consumers have menu items available to order. Heart-healthy menu choices at area restaurants will have those menu items highlighted with Charlotte Regional’s special Healthy Hearts Dining Program symbol.

Currently, restaurants participating in the Healthy Hearts Dining Program are: Lulu’s; The Perfect Caper; Phil’s 41; Portofino; River City Grill; Spazzi; Trattoria Limoncello; and Village Fish Market.

The four requirements to participation in the program are that the restaurant offers soft margarine or olive oil in addition to butter for breads/rolls; offers a liquid nondairy creamer in addition to half and half for coffee; offer vinegar and oil or a homemade vinaigrette dressing for salads; and that foods are fried in a liquid vegetable oil, such as canola or soybean.

Restaurants can then expand upon these parameters by preparing menu items prepared in a heart healthy fashion (i.e. broiled or baked fish and poultry items without additional high-fat sauces, Eggbeater omelets, etc.).  “Many area restaurants already offer heart healthy menu items,” said Gowan. “The Healthy Hearts Dining Program makes these items easily identifiable when ordering food.” Like everything the hospital does, it is trying to make healthy eating extra easy, extra great, and extra focused on the community’s needs.

Charlotte Regional dietitians oversaw the heart-healthy menu item selection process and worked with each of the participating restaurant’s Chefs to ensure that heart-healthy guidelines were met. “We are overjoyed that area restaurants are making heart healthy eating a priority and a reality for our cardiac patients and our community members,” said Gowan. “Now residents can all enjoy dining outside the home, knowing area restaurants hold their health as a priority.”  

We look forward to keeping Healthy Hearts throughout Charlotte County! For more information on the Healthy Hearts Dining Program, or if you are a restaurant wanting to participate, contact Charlotte Regional’s Nutritional Services Department at 637-2453.