Page last updated at 00:08 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 01:08 UK

Heart patients given culinary aid

Fruit and veg
The patients will be encouraged to use more healthy ingredients

A pioneering heart-friendly cooking course is getting under way at a Scottish hospital.

Cardiac patients at the Astley Ainslie Hospital in Edinburgh will be urged to choose a healthy diet and ingredients to prevent future health problems.

Chef Bosco Santimano, from Peebles, will be passing on expert advice during the informal 90-minute lessons.

A total of 18 patients from the cardiac rehabilitation unit have already signed up for the course, funded by the NHS.

The unit's Dr Iain Todd said: "We spend a lot of time explaining to patients why and how they need to change their health behaviours - the next stage is to actually help them do it.

I'm hoping to show patients that they can enjoy a simple and healthy diet, but not at the expense of their taste buds
Bosco Santimano

"We've done something similar with exercise classes so we thought why not try a more hands-on approach with diet."

Bombay-born Mr Santimano said it was the first time cooking classes to prevent heart disease had been held in a Scottish hospital.

The 39-year-old, who runs Peebles-based You Can Cook, said: "Diet is a big factor in preventing heart disease.

"I'm hoping to show patients that they can enjoy a simple and healthy diet, but not at the expense of their taste buds.

"I want to show the patients that the food they eat can be as advantageous to their health as any medicines."

'Informal lessons'

People on the course will be shown which ingredients to choose, including foods that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol.

You Can Cook is also lining up classes for recovering stroke victims as well as diabetics and allergy sufferers.

Mr Santimano said: "The informal lessons will show how to prepare traditional Scottish dishes as well as world cuisine but also include budgetary skills.

"It is aimed at getting to the root of dietary problems and act as a preventative measure."

The Astley Ainslie Hospital specialises in care and rehabilitation for patients with cardiac disease, stroke and brain injuries.


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