A Plant Powered Heart
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Written by: Jack Schliewe, Program Manager at Allianz Life Insurance Company | AdvantageHealth
A Plant Powered Heart
February is National Heart Health month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women. One out of every four deaths can in the U.S. can be attributed to heart disease. Most of the blame can be linked to the typical American diet that is high in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and simple carbohydrates. Maybe it is time to start shifting our focus towards the produce section where all of those brightly colored fruits and vegetables sit just begging to be picked up and eaten. But can you really improve your heart health by eating more plant-based foods? The time-tested research indicated that it certainly can.
Eating a more plant-based diet can aid in lowering your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease. Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol(found in mostly meats, dairy, and eggs) can raise cholesterol levels and increase heart attack risk. Plants on the other hand are low in saturated fat, free of cholesterol, and have tons of fiber which helps slow the absorption of cholesterol. Plants are also naturally very low in sodium which is one of the main causes of high blood pressure. That combined with the fact they are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants make them a powerhouse for the heart. There is also promising research out there that a plant-based diet is the only diet that can actually reverse heart disease.
Most of us do not eat enough plants. It can be a big shift to drop the traditions high fat, sugar, and simple carbohydrates to a more plant-based approach. Setting yourself up for success by creating a quality plan will help. Focusing on fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is a good start. Identifying what you like and how to implement them into your diet is the first step. Taking it in small steps will help you adhere and make the changes easier. If you only eat 3 servings a vegetables a week, shoot for 4 the first couple of weeks and increase from there. Get creative in the kitchen and learn how to sneak those extras fruits and veggies into meals. Learning how to properly cook and incorporate these foods will go a long way. I think we can all agree that eating more fruits, veggies, legumes, and whole grains is a good thing, so why not give it a try?