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Making Italian Food Heart Healthy

Thursday, Feb 20, 2014

It's not uncommon to come across two doctors who love to cook, but it may be a bit rare to find two physician chefs who are married to each other. Rob Sangrigoli, MD, and Renee Sangrigoli, MD, cardiologists at Doylestown Hospital, share an appetite for creating a variety of heart-healthy culinary dishes.

Their interest in cooking began when they were children, growing up in houses filled with the smell of homemade Italian cooking. When they met in med school, it was one of the things they had in common. "For us, our family and our heritage mean we see the kitchen as a place to congregate, to eat and to cook as a family," says Renee Sangrioli, MD.

The couple love to cook Italian, but the high carbohydrates usually associated with the cuisine led them to alter the way they cook to make it healthier.

10 Tips for Healthy Italian Cooking

  1. Eat less pasta
  2. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Grill dishes when available
  4. Use spices and herbs rather than salt and sugar
  5. Eat fresh food and stay away from processed foods
  6. Use seasonal ingredients
  7. When cooking with oil, use good quality olive oil
  8. Try to eat two servings of fish weekly
  9. Use sauces in moderation
  10. Dress your salad with balsamic vinegar and a little virgin olive oil

They use less pasta and more fresh fruits and vegetables, and have incorporated a variety of grilled dishes that make good use of various spices and fresh herbs which they have found results in added flavor without having to use much salt or sugar. A few years ago they started a small garden, which, says Dr. Renee,  has really made a difference both in our recipes and in terms of economics

The Impact of Diet on Health

Cooking is also something the Sangrigoli's discuss with their patients and use as a teaching tool.  As cardiologists, they know the impact diet can have on one's health. Dr. Renee Sangrigoli specializes in heart failure, while Dr. Rob Sangrigoli specializes in electrophysiology and treats heart rhythm disorders. "I counsel patients to look for fresh foods and to stay away from processed ones, especially in the warmer months when so many things are in season," Dr. Renee says

Her husband tells patients that they can make healthier choices, eat well and still enjoy good food. "Everything in moderation," Dr. Rob notes. "That's what we do, and we hope our patients realize that we are following our own advice.

The Sangrigolis have seen firsthand how inactivity and poor food choices can contribute to hypertension, diabetes and obesity, even in young children, and say it's important for people to start learning to make good food choices when they are young, something they have taught their own two sons. They prepare meals together as a family, often using weekends to cook meals for the week ahead. "As working parents with busy children, we try to plan our meals ahead of time to ensure we are eating healthy after a long day," adds Dr. Rob. "This helps us avoid having to eat out on the run."

Conditions and Diseases That May Be Attributed To Poor Food Choices

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Heart disease

Visit Our Heart Healthy Italian Cooking Pinterest Board:


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