Top 4 reasons why a plant-based diet helps fight heart disease
You might be struggling with a form of heart disease or curious about how to best take care of your heart. You have been told to reduce stress, omit smoking, and exercise regularly. Those things are all important, of course, but so is what you eat. During Heart Health Month, let’s explore how a plant-based diet can help create better heart health.
What is heart disease?There are different types of heart disease, but the most common is Coronary Artery Disease or “CAD” for short. CAD occurs when the arteries become clogged with plaque, a substance created by excess cholesterol and other materials. When this occurs, it causes the blood supply to the heart to decrease, the heart receives less oxygen and is then forced to work harder. In time, the heart muscle weakens and heart disease follows.
How Does a Plant-Based Diet Help Create a Healthier Heart?
A plant-based diet contains very little saturated fat. This is good news! You’ve heard saturated fat is not good for you, but did you know it is especially unhealthy for your heart? This type of fat contributes to obesity, which is associated with an increased risk of many kinds of heart disease. Since animal-based diets are high in saturated fat, reducing meat and dairy and adopting a plant-based diet is key to better heart health. Try Veestro’s Lentil Meatloaf instead of roast beef for dinner to help reduce your saturated fat intake.
A plant-based diet lowers cholesterol levels. Studies show plant-based diets reduce cholesterol more effectively than other diets. Soluble fiber, found in abundance in low-fat, plant-based diets,has been shown to help lower low-density lipoprotein, the “bad" LDL cholesterol that contributes to plaque build-up. Other studies demonstrate high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
Since too much cholesterol contributes to the hardening of the arteries, the goal is to reduce or eliminate animal-based products and eat a plant-based diet. The best foods to eat to help keep your arteries up to par are barley, oats, beans, soy protein, nuts, flaxseed, oats, wheat germ, wheat bran, and Brussels sprouts. Try Veesto’s Golden Chickpea Stew for a healthy heart.
A plant-based diet reduces blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to heart disease and can damage your arteries by making them less elastic and restricting the flow of oxygen and blood to your heart. The plant-based diet is low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, which helps to keep your blood pressure low. Potassium is known to reduce blood pressure also, and vegetables and fruit contain lots of it. Avoiding meat, dairy, and saturated fat reduces your blood’s thickness, thus making it easier for your heart to pump blood.
In some cases, heart disease can be completely reversed. In a study headed by Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. published in the Journal of Family Practice, researchers concluded twenty-two percent of subjects saw a complete reversal of CAD (Coronary Heart Disease) after adopting a plant-based diet. Eighty-one percent improved their symptoms and experienced fewer disease-related complications.
A plant-based diet reduces blood sugar levels. Plants naturally contain healthy sugars, which are important for an optimal body and heart. Refined sugar found in over-processed food contributes to elevating your blood sugar level. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves that control your heart. For a strong, healthy heart, and for your best health, eat natural sugars from vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts. The more, the better! Learn more about what foods to eat for a healthy and happy heart.
Create a healthy heart by not smoking, exercising regularly, and reducing stress. Eating a low-fat, diet rich in plants and low in animal products with an overall healthy lifestyle has been shown to prevent, delay, and even reverse heart disease. Adopting a vegan diet (eliminating all animal products, eggs, dairy, and honey from your diet) is even better for your heart’s health.