Heart Disease is a pathology, also known as Atherosclerosis, which is the process of fat building up in arteries. According to the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control, Heart Disease is the leading cause of death – globally (8.9 million deaths in 2019 and increased by 2 million in 2020).
What you may not know is heart disease has a very strong link to nutrition, and can be prevented, and in some cases reversed.
Below are a few ways in which eating plant based can help your heart:
1. Eat healthier fats.
Saturated fats: solid at room temperature, come chiefly from animal food products such as meat, dairy, poultry, and eggs.
Unsaturated fats: fats that come from mainly plants and are liquid at room temperature.
Unsaturated fats are placed into two more categories:
Polyunsaturated fats: Omega-3 fats which are found in fish; and omega-6 fats which are found in safflower and soybean oil; and
Monounsaturated fats: such as olive and canola oil, avocados and nuts like cashews and almonds.
Saturated fats are known to raise cholesterol (LDL – known as the bad cholesterol), thus increasing our chances of heart disease. Unsaturated fats come from mainly from plants and are known to lower cholesterol levels.
Bottom Line: Saturated fats come from animal products. Unsaturated fats come from mainly plants. Cooking with vegetable broth instead of oils is optimum, but using small amounts of unsaturated fats like olive, canola, and peanut oils can help keep our liver and heart happy. Additionally, consuming foods that naturally contain unsaturated fats like nuts, seeds, peanut butter and avocados are easy and delicious ways to keep our heart healthy, and stave off the onset of plaque in our arteries!
2. Lower Cholesterol Intake. Cholesterol is a fat like substance found in all cells of animals. The human body makes cholesterol. Our bodies need cholesterol to carry fat to the rest of the body. Too much upsets the balance of LDL (bad cholesterol) in the body, and can lead to high cholesterol and eventually if unmanaged, heart disease.
Bottom line: Cholesterol is only found in foods that come from animals. There is no cholesterol in foods that come from plants. An individual who is seriously trying to prevent heart disease, and lower cholesterol should consume more plant based foods and reduce and/or eliminate their intake of animal products.
3. Reduce your Caloric Intake
Reducing your caloric intake and keeping your body weight in check reduces your heart’s workload. Losing weight can bring your LDL (bad cholesterol) down, and boost your HDL (good cholesterol), which means less bad stuff floating in your bloodstream to cause clots, plaque, and heart disease. As stated above, reducing and/or eliminating your consumption of animal products, which are known to increase the heart disease process, and increasing your consumption of plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains, you are helping your heart function at its full capacity and reducing your chances of heart disease.
**EXERCISE: Exercise makes more HDL (good cholesterol) which acts like a sponge soaking up all those bad LDL (bad cholesterol) particles floating around in your blood stream. **
Bottom Line: Keep your body weight in check by consuming more plant based foods, less processed junk and animal products, and stay consistent in your daily movement (exercise). Walking is free and a great way to get your exercise each day --- your heart (and total body) will thank you with good health!
Want even more detailed information about the above? Let me know and I will forward it to you.
A plant based lifestyle is a WHOLE BODY lifestyle in which we take into consideration how the body functions as a whole; however, I have had several individuals ask me about the effects of a plant based lifestyle on the heart, and I wanted to address this very important question. Thus, the above is a simplified explanation of some of these processes.
I look forward to comments!