Heart Patient Diet – Why Avoiding Animal Products May Benefit Your Heart and Health
First of all, please note that avoiding is the key word here, not eliminating animal products completely from your diet. Becoming a strict vegetarian takes a level of commitment that some just can’t face and may not even be necessary to achieve optimal heart health. For most people, cutting down on the amount of animal products and choosing any that you do consume wisely is sufficient to promote a healthy heart and entire cardiovascular system.
Why avoid animal products? The primary reason is that dietary cholesterol comes only from animal products. I always find it a bit humorous to see a bag of apples marked “a no cholesterol food,” maybe people just aren’t aware that cholesterol comes from animals! Studies have shown that eating a diet high in cholesterol damages the cardiovascular system and raises blood cholesterol levels. Some surprising studies show that even if blood cholesterol isn’t raised, people consuming more animal products have a higher incidence of death from heart attacks and strokes. One of the greatest risks to the heart is atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries. Cholesterol seems to play a major role in the formation of plaque inside the arteries, causing narrowing of blood vessels and limiting the flow of blood. In addition to being bad for the heart, research has shown that diets high in meat and other animal products contribute to other diseases including certain cancers, osteoporosis, and digestive disorders.
In addition to the cholesterol found in animal products, they also have much higher fat content than their vegetable counterparts, increasing dietary calories. Slimming down can greatly benefit the heart; carrying less weight eases the burden on the heart. Did you know that fat has nine calories per gram while protein and carbohydrates have only four? Eating a lower-calorie diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole-grains and getting adequate exercise has been shown to reverse the effects of heart disease.
Many people worry that they won’t get enough protein without eating meat. There are many ways to get all the essential amino acids without meat. The most recent studies have shown that each meal does not even need to have complete protein as long as it is gotten in the daily diet. Combining beans and whole grains is the perfect combination; by eating these together you get high-quality, complete protein. Many studies have shown that getting too much protein is actually bad for the health of the kidneys and liver. Damage to either of these organs leads to high blood pressure and other problems that eventually affect the heart.
Set a goal of eliminating meat and animal products except for fat-free milk and yogurt at least four days a week. If you can’t start with this, try just two, building to four over a month. Incredible, hearty vegetarian recipes are easy to find everywhere now. Try experimenting with one for tonight’s dinner and your heart will thank you!