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The South Asian Heart Center and The Mynt Team Up for Heart Health

San Jose, CA - November 7, 2009 - The Mynt, a popular San Jose Indian restaurant, and The South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital, are partnering to promote heart-healthy eating.

Just in time for the holidays, it is the latest initiative in a series of community partnerships aimed at combating the epidemic of heart disease among South Asians. Not only is the restaurant providing more heart-healthy versions of many popular menu items, but its owners and staff also are enrolling in the Center's program, which identifies specific risk factors and helps participants manage and mitigate their risk through education, nutrition counseling, lifestyle recommendations and case-managed follow-up. The Center will screen the restaurant's employees at its cost.

"This takes our HEARTier Choices program to a deeper level," said Ashish Mathur, executive director of the Center. "Because the owners and restaurant workers will be experiencing our program first-hand, they are likely to have a much deeper understanding of the important role nutrition plays in the issue of heart health--and a stronger commitment to promoting healthy menu items in the restaurant.

Through its partnership with the San Jose State University Department of Nutrition, the South Asian Heart Center had a number of The Mynt's menu items analyzed, and then recommended changes to reduce or replace unhealthy ingredients and cooking methods. "There are many ways you can adjust a recipe to make it healthy without making it boring or bland," said Nancy K. Bugwadia, MS, RD, CNSC, assistant director at Regional Medical Center of San Jose and who helps the South Asian Heart Center develop such nutrition-focused partnerships. "All of these techniques work in your home kitchen as well. For example, you can stop using butter, replace regular yogurt with non-fat yogurt in marinades, significantly cut the amount of oil in each dish, and whenever possible, replace plain basmati with Brown Rice."

Reducing fat, cholesterol and simple carbohydrates may sound easy, but The Mynt took seriously the challenge of maintaining each dish’s signature flavors and textures. "We experimented with many variations of each recipe before finding the combination we felt best maintained its original taste and consistency," said Ram Ramgiri, Founder and Managing Partner at The Mynt. "The resulting dishes do not compromise the complex and appealing tastes we strive to offer in our cuisine. In fact, in many cases I like the new recipes even better than the old ones. This has been a learning process for us about how to incorporate more healthful ingredients and cooking practices into all our dishes, and we are proud to be doing our part to promote healthy eating in our community."

South Asians are four times more likely to suffer from heart disease than the general population, at much earlier ages, often without the usual symptoms such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The disease affects men and women equally, with 50 percent of heart attacks occurring before 50.

"We're starting to create real awareness in the Silicon Valley South Asian community," said Ashish Mathur, executive director of the South Asian Heart Center, "especially among high-tech employers. But we often have not been able to reach employers and employees in smaller businesses such as restaurants. In addition, these workers have a tremendous opportunity to influence what others eat. We’re thrilled to be able to raise their awareness of heart-healthy eating and lifestyles--and we invite other restaurants to partner with us in this important initiative."

The South Asian Heart Center, the first major non-profit devoted to combating the growing epidemic of heart disease among people from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka, has developed a unique preventative program. Offered at a minimal, subsidized cost, the Center assesses the risk for heart disease using an advanced screening process that keys in on risk factors specific to this population, and helps participants manage and mitigate their risk through education, nutrition counseling, lifestyle recommendations, and case-managed follow-up.