Heart disease is the number one killer in America. What makes this statistic even more staggering is the fact that heart disease is virtually unheard of in many cultures around the world. Several doctors leading the fight against heart disease claim the American diet is to blame!
In one article, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., a Cleveland Clinic physician, discusses the benefits of a vegan diet and its ability to prevent or reverse heart disease. A vegan diet means no animal-based products: no meat, no dairy, and no eggs. According to this article, a heart-protective diet also includes no added oils. But the list of “no-no’s” on this plan may be worth the sacrifice! Dr. Esselstyn has been working with patients since 1985 and has seen reduction of the blockages in the blood vessels of his patients’ hearts when patients follow this diet.
Dr. Dean Ornish, a well-known physician, also promotes a plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, and beans to prevent or reverse heart disease. One of Dr. Ornish’s heart-smart diet converts is former President Bill Clinton. In a recent interview, former President Clinton discusses his “past-life” as a burgers-and-fries kind of guy. However, he also suffered from heart disease, landing him in the hospital multiple times. He claims overhauling his diet has improved his heart health and helped him lose more than 20 pounds.
These reports come on the tails of a recent study that found eating red meat raises your risk of type II diabetes. According to this study, replacing one serving of meat with one serving of low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains each day could cut your risk of type II diabetes by 16-35%!
If you can’t eat meat or other animal by-products, then what can you eat on this heart-healthy diet? Your shopping list might include some of the following:
Vegetables, especially green, leafy veggies like kale and Swiss chard
Nuts & nut butters
Whole grains, especially protein rich quinoa
So, even if you aren’t ready to “veganize” your diet, you might want to consider taking a little meat out of your diet and trying one or two of these heart-smart options.