Cardiovascular disease is a growing concern, yet eating more plant-based food could help combat and reverse it.
A plant-based diet encompasses whole foods like fruits and vegetables; legumes; nuts and seeds; whole grains; and liquid plant-based oils. Studies have proven that adopting such an eating pattern helps protect against, manage or reverse heart disease.
1. Lowers Cholesterol
Lowering cholesterol is one of the key pillars of heart health. A plant-based diet can be particularly effective at doing just this while simultaneously providing essential vitamins and minerals.
A plant-based diet restricts foods high in saturated fat and added sugar that can increase triglycerides and cholesterol, such as barley and oats, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with oils like canola, olive, and sunflower. Instead, opt for foods like whole grains (barley and oats are good choices), legumes, fruits vegetables nuts seeds canola olive and sunflower oils; try to limit processed meats (even those labeled “low-fat”) poultry with skin as well as dairy products with full fat dairy products to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle goals.
Replace these fats with heart-healthy omega-3 fats found in fish, avocado and nut butters while cutting back on salt intake. You could also incorporate plant sterols (found naturally in some fruits, vegetables and nuts) or those which have been enhanced with them such as table spreads, cereals, low-fat yoghurt and milk into your diet for an added health boost.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Plant-derived fiber, phytochemicals and micronutrients can play an essential role in helping lower blood pressure. Reducing your blood pressure is important to overall health and could help to protect you against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.
Studies have demonstrated the benefits of plant-based diets on cardiovascular outcomes and morbidity and mortality rates when compared to traditional diets. A WFPB diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes as well as healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil nuts and seeds will maximize these advantages to your heart health. It’s important to remember when studies refer to “plant-based” that it doesn’t always mean vegan – the term could refer to vegetarian or even omnivorous eating patterns as well.
3. Lowers Inflammation
Plant-based diets may help lower inflammation in your body and thereby protect you against heart disease, while simultaneously improving arthritis symptoms and leading to better liver and kidney functions – with fewer environmental footprints as a result.
It is best to not eliminate meat altogether but choose plant proteins like legumes, beans, whole grains, and vegetables over processed foods in order to reap their anti-inflammatory benefits. Their fiber content helps promote regular bowel movements as well as supporting a healthy gut microbiome.
Studies show that eating more plant-based diets can prevent, slow or reverse heart disease. They may also help optimize blood pressure, glycemic control and cholesterol levels while decreasing medication needs due to their rich sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar
Plant-based diets have been shown to lower blood sugar levels and can even reverse type 2 diabetes – both risk factors for heart disease. Such diets contain abundant sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals that improve insulin sensitivity while simultaneously strengthening your body’s ability to manage its own blood sugar.
Planning a plant-based diet requires selecting whole foods low in calories and saturated fat that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. You should avoid processed foods such as white rice, white bread and juices which contain added sugar, sodium, saturated fats and sugar replacements that deplete nutrients while often adding added sugar, sodium or saturated fats to your diet. An appropriate plant-based diet can meet all your nutritional needs – such as protein, vitamin B12, calcium zinc omega 3s. Just ensure a variety of food groups to ensure adequate intake.
5. Lowers Weight
Plant-based diets provide natural sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals while being low in saturated fat and cholesterol content. Not only does a plant-based diet aid in weight loss but can also optimize blood pressure, sugar and lipid levels – potentially eliminating or reducing medication needs altogether.
A 2014 study demonstrated that those following a healthy plant-based diet experienced improved symptoms and 22 per cent had disease reversal, while those in the control group experienced no such improvements. This dietary approach eliminated processed foods, added oils, fruit juices, potatoes, excess salt, sugar and saturated fat while including whole grains, legumes vegetables nuts and seeds in its offerings.
Plant-based diets may include vegetarianism, veganism (excluding all food containing meat or dairy) or pesco-vegarianism which includes eggs and fish in addition to vegetables, beans and whole grains. When making any major dietary changes it’s wise to consult a healthcare provider first.