The heart is our most vital organ, yet heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, daily consumption of meat actually triples your chances of heart-related disease.
It’s common knowledge that eating meat increases blood pressure and cholesterol levels. High blood pressure and cholesterol effectively clogs arteries and can potentially lead to heart disease or even a stroke. However, cardiologist and president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Kim Williams, suggests “a plant-based diet can decrease plaque in the blood vessels and lower risk of stroke”.
Therefore, by replacing animal products with plant-based foods, or even omitting meat from your daily consumption altogether, you can reap the abundance of benefits of such a nutrient-rich diet.
For instance, Healing with Plants highlights Della Upshire, a grandmother of nine, to demonstrate the healing power of cutting meat from your daily intake. She went for years eating the wrong, unhealthy foods. Even after undergoing bypass surgery, she still suffered from high blood pressure and angina, reduced blood flow to the heart. However, Upshire made a drastic lifestyle change to a strictly raw vegan diet, and in doing so, completely turned her health around and cured her cardiac ailments.
Now is the time we protect our four-chambered circulatory life-line by saying “no more meat.” Choose healthy heart aids like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils.
Here are some of the many ways avoiding meat products and simply choosing to eat a plant-based diet can improve your overall heart health.
Eating Plants Increases the Fiber in Your Diet
Yes, fiber is a beneficial component of digestive health, but it also aids in lowering the risk of heart disease. The body actually makes all of the cholesterol it needs. So, the extra cholesterol that comes from eating meat develops as fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Those deposits can grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries.
Increasing your fiber intake by eating foods like beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, and nuts can help reduce the bad cholesterol by aiding in digestion which removes the excess cholesterol from the body.
There is Less Saturated Fat in a Plant-based Diet
Saturated fats are solid by-products found in animal products like beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, butter, and dairy products. They also raise the amount of cholesterol in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that only 120 of the 2,000 calories a day should be saturated fats. That is a mere 13g of saturated fat per day. You could easily go over your daily limit for saturated fats with a single 4 oz steak. Therefore, you should attempt to control your saturated fat intake by being opting for milk, butter, or plant-based oils.
Increasing Your Intake of Fruits and Veggies Can Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when there is too much pressure on the artery walls. Over time, hypertension can damage blood vessels, leading to heart problems and diseases. Since animal products make your blood pressure rise, it is important to increase your intake of a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to combat hypertension.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, and it is suggested that the average adult eats at least 5, 80g portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Doing so gives your body many of the vitamins and minerals it needs.
You could simply take an apple on the go. Pack a few tablespoons of berries to snack on throughout the day. Or opt for some potassium-rich foods, like sweet potatoes, bananas, or some leafy green spinach, to aid the kidneys in getting rid of excess sodium in the body and naturally help to lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of heart disease.
A No More Meat Diet Can Decrease Your Risk of Diabetes and Obesity
When you consume meat, you get a much higher amount of saturated fats that significantly heighten your risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, which can ultimately lead to heart disease and stroke. According to a study conducted at Northwestern University, eating two servings of meat a week increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death by 3 to 7 percent. Therefore, changing your diet to clean, meat-free, plant-based meals, and snacks is going to help cut back those saturated fats and unnecessary calories while lowering your risk of heart-related issues.
You Can Actually Get All of the Nutrients Your Body Needs from a Plant-based Diet
It is a common misconception that eating meat is the only way to get many of our vital nutrients. In fact, you can get all of the protein and iron your body needs from plant-based foods. Soy products, beans, peanut butter, as well as nuts and seeds are rich in protein. Eggs and milk can provide your body with iron and zinc, and whole grains, like quinoa, are great sources of other minerals.
Making the decision to avoid meat in your diet is the best effort of protection for your heart. Plant-based diets can provide any and all of the nutrients the body needs. Who would have thought that vegetarian and vegan diets could actually offer more vitamins and have lower levels of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than meat-based diets?
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