If you have had a heart attack or other coronary event, your doctor may have recommended a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Doctors know that a plant based diet can have positive effects on the heart, even working to reverse mild cases of disease. If you are interested in protecting one of the most important muscles in your body, here is how a plant based diet can work for you:
1. Soy Protein
In moderation, soy can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet. The current thought is that soy’s positive effects can be linked to a combination of isoflavones and protein. 45 grams added to your daily diet is enough to allow you to reap its positive benefits. Soy is incredibly versatile and is easily substituted into virtually any meal. Take a walk through your local grocery store and look for soy nuts, tofu, soy milk and meat replacers made with the plant.
Plant-based sterols occur naturally in the walls of plant cells. These beneficial substances can be found in vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits, seeds and legumes. Sterols prevent LDL particles from being absorbed into the bloodstream, lowering your cholesterol in the process. Because of its heart-friendly properties, sterols are now being added to a variety of food products including orange juice, yogurt, granola bars and margarine.
Just five servings of nuts per week can reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack by up to 60 percent. Almonds, walnuts and pistachios top the list of healthy nuts, though any raw, unsalted nut will suffice. A handful of nuts each day is the perfect serving size and is loaded with antioxidants, protein, monounsaturated fats and fiber. Add nuts to oatmeal, yogurt or salads to make snack or dish more flavorful and exciting!
You know that plants contain fiber, but did you know that there are different kinds of plant fiber? Viscous fiber is the most beneficial to those with heart disease. This fiber absorbs cholesterol like a sponge and transports it out of the body. Viscous fiber can be found in bran, barley, oats and psyllium, an ingredient found in cereals, breakfast bars and muffins. The recommended amount of this fiber is 20 grams per day so try to incorporate oatmeal into your breakfast each morning. Alternatively, you can substitute oat flour for the white flour in your pancakes, cookies and muffins.
5. Vegan Diets
The absolute best thing that you can do for your heart is to switch to an all-natural, vegan diet. For many, the thought of transitioning to a diet that contains no meat is not only overwhelming, but distasteful. Americans consume more meat than any other group in the world. If other countries can forgo meat, surely we can as well! The easiest way to transition to a vegan diet is to slowly cut out one meat at a time. Instead of ridding your diet of meat altogether, give up pork first. When you get used to a diet without pork, give up beef. Keep progressing in this manner until you’ve cut out all meat and animal products from your diet!
Research has proven that a plant-based diet is the healthiest choice for your heart. You can halt damage to your heart by making just a few simple substitutions each time you sit down to eat. By adding nuts, healthy fibers and soy to your diet, you may even be able to reverse the damage that’s already been done!
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