The leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. It is a disease that touches most people’s lives in one way or another. With so many people affected and so many resources dedicated to this illness, it is vital to find a lasting solution. Amazingly, doctors are reversing heart disease with a vegan diet. Plants are becoming the new doctor’s orders.
Reversing Heart Disease With A Vegan Diet
An over-the-counter solution to a disease that kills 633,842 Americans every year seems too good to be true. In fact, doctors are increasingly turning to the produce aisle to cure their patients who suffer from advanced heart disease.
Dr. Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic and author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease is one of the prominent researchers in this area. He vocally advocates for a plant-based solution to this devastating disease. He does it not only because he has seen it help his patients but also because it is actually more effective than more invasive (and more common) methods like stents and statins.
Dr. Esselstyn tells the story of a surgical friend of his at the Cleveland Clinic who, at the age of 46 had a heart attack. The man exercised, was not diabetic, and had normal cholesterol. After his attack, this doctor resigned himself to trying the diet his friend, Dr. Esselstyn, prescribed to patients: a low-oil, plant-based diet. Within two years, his heart disease had completely vanished.
The most significant impact of such a diet seems to be on repairing endothelial cells which line blood vessels. These cells play a major role in preventing heart disease. They produce nitrous oxide which, among other things, prevents the artery walls from becoming stiff and prevents plaque buildup. Feeding people lots of leafy greens and a diet low in oil helps to heal these cells from damage caused by animal products so they can get back to their job.
Hold The Oil, Nuts, Avocado and Coconut
Dr. Esselstyn further insists on not simply a vegan diet but a vegan diet that avoids added oils, nuts, avocado and coconut. The reason again for this insistence is because his research has found that added oils are damaging to the endothelial cells and contribute to heart disease.
Many doctors who are treating patients with advanced heart disease want them to focus on the diet that is the most healthful. That means that they are going to have them eat as many greens and veggies as possible.
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Lacking is research on what the health prognosis is for someone who eats vegan but still adds some oil. No one knows how much oil a person can add and “get away with it” while eating an otherwise healthy vegan diet.
In the meantime, to focus on meals and foods free of added oils, there are a number of cooking tricks to use:
- Use a non-stick saute pan and saute with vegetable broth or water instead of oil
- Make your own oil-free salad dressing (I like the simple combo of whisked together: tahini, lemon juice and warm water)
- Use applesauce and bananas in baking in place of oil
- Make an oil-free tofu mayo or substitute a bean dip for your mayo spread
Preventing Heart Disease Before It Starts
Some people might decide to “resort” to eating their greens when they have advanced heart disease. What about proactively preventing the disease before it starts?!
Remember, you can be a marathon runner and suffer a heart attack. Heart disease does not just affect people who are not athletic. This makes it seem like an illness that you cannot do anything about. But, while you cannot run it away, you can eat it away.
While genetic factors may increase a person’s chance of getting heart disease, she can take control of that chance with a diet lifestyle change. So, while you may seem like the epitome of health right now, it is never too early to start preventing heart disease.
The Produce Aisle Is The New Pharmacy
Many believe that doctors are not prescribing a vegan diet because they simply feel it is unlikely that their patients will stick with it. The rub is: while taking a pill does seem easier than transforming one’s diet, it will not work as well. So, a better approach might be to give people the tools that increase their chances of sticking with a vegan diet and reversing heart disease naturally.
If you have heart disease, the focus should be on boatloads of leafy greens, according to Dr. Esselstyn. Kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard and arugula are some of the greens to make sure you eat.
Instead of turning to drugs and surgery, learn how to reverse heart disease naturally with veggies!
How to Make the Heart-Healthy Change
1. Make Simple Meals
Focus on whole foods to guide your meal planning. Do not get overly complicated with sauces and a page-long ingredient list. A dinner can be as simple as:
- Quinoa, canned black beans, sweet potato and raw spinach topped with salsa
- Romaine, canned navy beans, cut up vegetables (carrots, cucumber, tomato, red onion, etc.) and a tahini dressing
2. Snack Vegan
When you get “hangry” and need a snack ASAP, you are going to want to be sure you have vegan snacks at the ready. Again, these do not have to be complicated:
- Cut up carrots and red pepper with oil-free hummus
- Dried fruit: raisins, mango, dates, etc.
- Fresh fruit: clementines, bananas, melon, plums, etc.
3. Get Support
You are not the first person who has gone vegan! Turn to all of the great resources out there to help you along your way.
There are tons of guides for newbie vegans that will help you learn more about the foods you will focus on in your new diet.
Start with these great beginner guides to make the switch:
- Becoming Vegan FREE email course
- Vegan Grocery List For Beginners
- How To Go Vegan Starter Guide
- Simple Vegan Meal Planning
Reversing heart disease with a vegan diet is within reach for all of us. Give it a shot and take care of that heart!
What are your reasons for eating vegan? Have you seen any positive health impacts of the change in diet? Are you yourself interested in reversing heart disease with a vegan diet? Share below and tag @plentyvegan on Instagram to connect!
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