The offerings on the menu at Table Three Ten looked similar to those you might find at any nice Lexington restaurant: melon bisque, heirloom tomato salad, carrot ginger risotto, tofu hash, spaghetti squash Provencal, Soba noodle salad and lemon mousse for dessert.
For Lisa Highland, 56, who participates in the Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program, the menu is so much more.
Highland finished the nine-week program in May, and she said she already has seen health improvements: increased energy and 35 pounds lost.
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She joined the program because she suffered angina symptoms, including shortness of breath. The program’s intensive cardiac rehab focus promises to reverse the effects of heart disease. It caught Highland’s attention, because heart disease is prevalent in her family.
“My health has improved very much so, and I feel better and have more energy,” said Highland, an employee of St. Joseph Hospital. “Just knowing that heart disease reversal is possible and my symptoms that I had beforehand have decreased, so I feel like it’s working.”
The Ornish Heart Disease Reversal Program came to Lexington in January, and KentuckyOne Health, specifically St. Joseph Hospital, owns the rights to the program here.
Rebecca Shepherd-Smith, a registered dietitian with the Ornish program at KentuckyOne Health’s Healthy Lifestyle Center, said in an email that reversing heart disease is the main purpose of the program. But it also has had proven effects on improving diabetes, and decreasing obesity and high blood pressure.
The menu at Table Three Ten, on West Short Street, was part of the restaurant’s second Ornish Dinner on Tuesday night. The menu is specifically for those in the Ornish program.
Daniel Marlowe, the new owner of Table Three Ten, has 20 years in the restaurant, but he had never heard of the Ornish program. He was introduced to the program by Shepherd-Smith, who approached him and Table Tree Ten chef Chris Smith about providing food options for people in the program.
Because one focus of Table Tree Ten is creating a stronger sense of community and connecting people with their food source, Marlowe was happy to play a role in preparing meals for people in the program, he said.
“Having a balanced diet and leading to a healthier lifestyle and a happier life, if we can play any role in that, that’s a great thing,” he said.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC. More than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease each year. That’s one in every four deaths in the country.
The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has found that risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Heart disease ranked as the second leading cause of death for Kentucky in 2014. That’s a small decline from 2012.
From 2011 to 2013 in Fayette County, the heart disease death rate per 100,000 people is 284.3.
As one of the main pillars of the program, nutrition is crucial. But one of the biggest challenges for those who eat Ornish is the lack of options for eating out.
That’s what inspired Marlowe to get Table Three Ten involved.
“That was the big thing that really resonated with me: These people can’t have date night,” he said. “They can’t go out with their spouses because of their diet, so it’s very limiting to them.”
That was the big thing that really resonated with me: These people can’t have date night.
Daniel Marlowe, owner of Table Three Ten
And it can seem limiting to those who don’t eat Ornish. Those in the program cannot eat avocados, meat of any kind or dairy, and they eat whole-grain gluten if they eat gluten, Smith said.
The biggest hurdle for Smith, Table Three Ten’s chef, is that the diet calls for no use of oil.
“In a kitchen, it’s been taught to me since starting cooking, you just oil the pan so on and so forth, but it’s not so much with the Ornish dinner,” Smith said. “You have to learn different ways to heat up a vegetable to completely change the way that I’ve cooked my entire life.”
Highland said it was difficult to find places to go out to eat at the beginning, but she has found several places that were able to accommodate the Ornish diet. She has also been able to find several recipes for the diet as well.
“It was a challenge, but I went through a lot of different recipes and things,” she said. “So you find what you like and don’t like, and then you kind of gravitate toward that.”
Table Three Ten plans to roll out new options on its menu that can be made Ornish-friendly.
“It’s something that I don’t know anybody else in town that’s doing. Actually, I don’t know if anybody in the state is doing something like this,” Marlowe said. “And I hope there are more people we can inspire to do that as well.”