Connecticut Food Executives Bring Delicious, Heart-Healthy Living to New Levels

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When former Connecticut chocolate executive Rob Leighton discovered he had high cholesterol, he was faced with the prospect of a strict, bland diet; a lifetime of medication; or possibly both. Not surprisingly, Leighton, also known as the Food Passionisto, found these alternatives unappealing. So instead he established Kardea Nutrition to provide natural gourmet foods to support cardiovascular health within a framework of educational resources. He has teamed with two other Connecticut executives to accelerate the company’s growth.

When former Connecticut chocolate executive Rob Leighton discovered he had high cholesterol, he was faced with the prospect of a strict, bland diet; a lifetime of medication; or possibly both. Not surprisingly, Leighton, also known as the Food Passionisto, found these alternatives unappealing. So instead he established Kardea Nutrition to provide natural gourmet foods to support cardiovascular health within a framework of educational resources. He has teamed with two other Connecticut executives to accelerate the company’s growth.

“Kardea is a different kind of food company,” says Leighton, who was president and CEO of Thompson Brands, a Meriden chocolate manufacturer founded in 1879. “We started with the belief that the daily joy of eating great food can also support a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.” The program is described in The Kardea Gourmet: Smart and Delicious Eating for a Healthy Heart (Linx, 2011) which Leighton coauthored with “Cooking Cardiologist” Richard Collins M.D. along with registered dietitian Susan Buckley.

Bob Pravder, of Westport, Connecticut, serves as Kardea’s Chief Financial Officer. Pravder has worked with other emerging nutritional health companies to bring food products and health services to market. Leighton and Pravder had been childhood friends. “I had not seen Bob for 35 years,” recalls Leighton, “We grew up in New York together, reconnected by chance, and discovered that we both had the same passion for delicious food and healthy living.” Earlier in his career, Pravder had been a vice president with A.C. Nielson, a worldwide leader in consumer market research.

Ken Gilbert, CEO of RazorFocus, a leading Connecticut market research firm, is guiding Kardea’s marketing initiatives. Gilbert is a member of Kardea’s board. As the former Chief Marketing Officer for Snapple Teas, Gilbert revitalized the brand within three years, resulting in a $700 million profit for Snapple’s then-parent company, Triarc. “Consumers of all ages, not just Baby Boomers, are seeking natural and delicious foods to complement a healthy lifestyle,” observes Gilbert. “I got involved with Kardea because of a strong belief that a vegetable sterol based product proposition will stand out in the growing all natural foods category.”

Kardea means "heart" in Greek. Kardea products, including the new book and gourmet nutrition bars, are available through Amazon, select Whole Foods Markets and Vitamin Shoppes as well as independent natural food and book retailers. A great selection of Kardea’s heart healthy recipes can be found at http://www.kardeanutrition.com.

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Rob Leighton

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