Story of Adapting to a Heart Attack 

Posted: May 14, 2024

Introduction: This is a story of Walter Sorochan and how he adapted to life after a heart attack.

His health April 24, 2024: Age 95+ years; weight = 155 lbs, 12.8 oz;  BMR = 23.01; Blood Pressure = 104/55; Pulse = 64

Heart attack & survival: Most persons get a heart attack from being overweight, choosing a bad diet and/or not exercising. These were not the cause of my heart attack.

In 2023, one year ago, I tried to swim extra laps when I was not physically fit. Doing so caused my heart to pump more blood than it could. Hence, the heart muscle activated the respiratory system into rapid, deep breathing. I felt a heavy chest, shortness of breath and pain in my left shoulder and arm. I was rushed to the Emergency Room where cardiologists rescued me.

Now .... I listen to my body for distress signals such a deep and rapid breathing. These signals tell me to slow down, rest and try to sleep. Yes, it is during sleep that the human body heals. Healing the body has not changed after the heart attack.

Seeing my cardiologist one year later, he said that he never saw anyone looking better at my age of 95. How are you feeling?  My answer: " I am feeling good!"

What have I been doing to feel good again?

I have successfully adapted to a new life at age 95: changing from repetitive stress strength exercises to focus on coordination and flexibility activities, making better food choices and understanding body stress alarm signals from the brain. I try to get infrequent sunshine on my skin for hormone D.

Time out: There are five important ways to live longer and avoid a heart attack:

Selecting the good foods [dietary choices] is the most important of these five recommendations. We learn how to eat from our parents and flavor foods by adding sugar, salt and fat to make foods taste better. But these three .... sugar, salt and fat, also make us food addicts.

Like other seniors, I have lost most of my youthful strength. So I adapted to doing less strength callisthenic warm up activities every day. I have a broken hip joint that limits walking distances and is slightly painful. I usually walk from about 700 to 800 feet every second day. I listen to my body, rest and sleep a lot.

The big challenger was finding foods in local food markets that were locally accessible, fresh and organically grown.

I became a Mediterranean vegetarian a long time ago and avoided sweets, snacks and animal meat products. On occasion, I ate sweets and pizza. But in the past few years, I became a strict vegetarian by adding fruit and nuts. Adopting a strict veggie diet requires nutrient density foods [foods high in vitamins, minerals and amino acids] low in calories. Using this eating format as a priority, I narrowed my veggies to twelve vegetables that I could rotate every few days.

But there was a catch in selecting the best vegetables. I discovered that vegetables were easier to select when ranked from best to worst. ANDI scores were most helpful in this regard.

ANDI scores were originated by Dr. Joel Fuhrman in an effort to help his patients lose body weight. ANDI scores are rich in nutrients but low in calories.   Fuhrman: Eat For Life 2020

ANDI scores range from a best food high of 100 to a low bad food of 4 to zero.

The table below classifies foods based on ANDI score values:

Food ANDI Serv/amt
Units score  
Mustard Greens cooked 112 1 cup
Cabbage 90 1 cup
Kale raw 90 1 cup
Cauliflower 90 1 cup
Green beans 64 1 cup
Romaine lettuce 64 2 cups
Peas64 1 cup
Mushrooms 60 1/4 cup
Pumpkin 45 1 cup
Walnuts 45 1 cup
Cherries 45 2/3 cup
Corn 45 1 cup
Potato sweet 45 1 cup
Food ANDI Serv/amt
Units score  
Rice wild cked 26 1 cup
Grapes 19 1 cup
Mango 19 1 cup
Orange 19 1 item
Almond butter 13 1 Tbs
Potatoes white 12 1 cup
Iceberg lettuce 11 2 cups
Apple, banana 11 1 item
Peanuts 11 1/2 cup
Orange juice 7 1 cup
Chocolate dark 7 1.5 oz
Food ANDI Serv/amt
Units score  
Salmon wild 7 4 oz
Seafood lobsters 5 4 oz
Sardines 5 4 oz
Eggs 4 1 item
Poultry 3 4 oz
White pasta 0  
Beef, pork, lamb 0  
Hotdog 0  
Ice cream 0  
Pizza 0  
Fr fries, chips 0  
Soft drinks 0  

Now, let's explore eating vegetables that can be high in carbohydrate calories. The table below displays the nutrient content and ANDI scores for 13 selected foods. Foods high in calories are avocados=218 cals, beans=254 cals and sunflower seeds=175 cals. These foods may be high in calories but they contain a lot of essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids [nutrient dense]. By eating smaller portions, you can lower your calorie intake. For example, eat just half an avocado.

Table 1: High ANDI Foods and their Vitamins
Food ANDI Serv/amt Cals Fat Fiber C Thiam Ribo Niacin Pant B6 Folate Folic Choline A E K D B12
Units     kcal gm gm mg mg mg mg mg mg ug ug mg IU ug ug IU ug
Kale 79 1 cup 35 0.3 93.4 19.6 .024 .073 0.248 .078 .031 13.02 0.00 0.10 1010.52 0.14 81.8 0.00 0.00
Broccoli flower raw 90 1 cup 20 0.3 .065 .119 .638 .535 .453 .380 .113 50.41 0.00 2130.0 0 0.00 0.00
Avocado Cal, raw 23 1 218 21.0 9.2 12.0 .102 .194 2.60 1.99 .390 121.04 0.00 19.3 199.92 2.68 26.6 0 0
Carrots grated 45 1 cup 44 0.3 3.1 6.5 .073 .064 1.08 0.300 .152 20.9 0.00 9.7 18376.6 .73 14.5 0.00 0.00
Peas raw green 45 1 cup 117 0.1 8.3 58.0 .386 .191 3.03 .151 .245 95.25 0.00 41.2 1109.25 0.19 36.0 0.00 0.00
Tomato cherry 60 5 items 15.5 0.0 3.30 11.5 .08 .505 .075 .070 10.25 0.00 5.5 708.05 0.45 6.5 0.00 0.00
SunFlower seeds 34 1 oz 175 16.0 3.15 0.04 .092 .081 1.190 2.00 .228 67.47 0.00   0.00   0.00 0.00 0.00
Beans Pinto boiled 52 1 245 1.1 15.0 1.4 .330 .106 .544 0.359 .392 294.12 0.00 60.4 0.00 1.61 6.0 0.00 0.00
Onions med 30 1slice 5.6 0.0 0.20 1.0 .006 .004 .016 .017 .017 2.66 0.00 .90 0.28 0.00 .01 0.00 0.00
Beets boil 45 44 0.2 2.0 3.6 .027 0.04 .331 .145 .067 80.0 0.00 6.3 35.00 0.04 0.2 0.00 0.00
Strawberries 45 5 19 0.00 1.0 35.6 0.015 0.015 0.23 0.075 0.030 14.4 0.00 3.50 7.20 0.15 1.50 0.00 0.00
Blueberries 45 50 39 0.2 1.6 6.60 .025 .028 0.284 0.084 .035 4.08 0.00 4.10 36.72 0.39 13.1 0.00 0.00
Almonds seeds 26 10 70 6.0 1.0 0.0 .010 0.10 0.43 0.06 0.02 5.3 0.00 6.0 0.20 3.10 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total       45.5 142 155 1.73 1.64 12.68 5.71 1.80 778.9 0.00 157.0 23613 9.48 186 0.00 0.00
RDI       78 28 90 1.2 1.3 16.0 5.0 1.3 400   550 900 15 120 800 2.4

Table legend:  C = vitamin C; thiam = thiamin; ribo = Riboflavin; niacin = Niacin; pant =Pantothenic acid; B6 =B6; folate =Folate; folic =Folic acid; choline = Choline; A =A; E =E; K =K; D =D; B12 =B12; IU = International Units; IU mass : gm=1 gram; mg= milligram or 1/1000 of gram; ug= microgram or 1/1,000,000 gram.

Eating more than one or two vegetables at one setting is important as the nutrition values of foods can be added up or totaled as intake, and compared to the Recommended Daily Index for each day. In the table above, for example, the total for vitamin C per day is 1.73 mgs compared to the recommended 1.2 mg. Although the totals for niacin and choline for all recommended foods is less than the RDI; both nutrients still supply adequate amounts for body functions. But when a vegetable is ingested by itself, then the vegetarian diet and body will be deficient in niacin or choline.

These vegetables were selected, over others, for a meal, because these foods are ANDI high and because these foods are super rich in specific nutrients and low in calories:

There are a few exceptions to this recommendation. For example, avocados have a low ANDI score of 21 and 218 calories per serving, but are super rich in nutrients. Another food is sunflower seeds with an ANDI score of 34 and 174 calories per serving but is nutrient dense.

plate veggies

The top six veggies in the plate, above, should be first choice vegetables as these cumulatively provide a good balance of nutrients. These six .... avocado, spinach, broccoli, beets, beans and carrots, contain a balance of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that compliment each other. Onions should be added about three times a week.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to serve and eat all nine foods each day as finding foods in local food markets that are locally accessible and organically grown are often difficult to find. So from a practical point of view, I try to eat avocados, spinach, beets, beans, and sunflower [as well as fruit and nuts] each day.

There is a hidden secret in making this diet choice. The nutrient content of these foods, when added up, provides minerals, vitamins and amino acids that meet Required Daily Index recommendations. Another way of saying this is that these are the nutrients that your body needs.  

I try to eat the same foods consistently each day so the bacteria in my colon adapt to a balance of bad and good bacteria. I try to keep a ratio of 70 percent good bacteria to 30 percent bad bacteria; thereby having a soft stool and avoiding constipation. It is the good bacteria that prevent chronic diseases.

These top six foods can be rotated for other vegetables. For example: Spinach can be substituted for other green plants like, romaine lettuce, kale; broccoli for cauliflower; carrots for dell peppers or sweet potato; and black beans for pinto beans.

In spite of its high ANDI score, kale is not recommended. It has a high fiber amount. More important, kale has an insoluble carbon, raffinose, that passes through the GI tract where bacteria begin fermentation and convert raffinose into acids, gases and alcohols. If one eats too much kale, then one gets a real loose stool.   Dove: Kale make you gassy 

There are other vegetables that can be substituted for the above, but you get the 'biggest bang' for your dollar from the top rainbow colored veggies.  A major advantage of the above veggie diet is that you are no longer eating addictive sweets, snacks and processed foods. No addictive food means that you no longer feel hungry most of the time. Reason: a balanced nutrient diet eaten regularly gives your body what it needs .... balanced nutrition.

In summary, I have adapted stressful physical activities [no heavy lifting activities] and best food choices for my heart attacked body. We all need a meaningful purpose in life although my purpose at my age is weaning. I also heed body stress alarm signals like deep and frequent breathing with lots of rest and sleep. But my body is starving for sunlight, as San Diego has many cloudy days.


Fuhrman Joel, Eat For Life, Harper One, 2020.  Fuhrman: Eat For Life 2020

Dove Laurie L., "Why does kale make you gassy?" HowStuffWorks.  Dove: Kale make you gassy