Unless the condition is genetic or already severe, a vegan diet can do a lot to restore the health of the whole cardiovascular system. Even in those severe and genetic cases, a vegan diet can help contain the issue by eliminating foods that have caused or are adding to the damage.
If you’re interested in going vegan to improve heart health or deal with a major illness, speak to your cardiologist first. They will most likely approve of your decision, but it’s still better to make all big lifestyle changes under the supervision of your doctor.
Why Is Meat Bad for the Heart?
It’s not about meat being bad on its own, it’s about the type and quantity. Red and processed meat are full of saturated fat. Overconsumption of saturated and trans fats may lead to the rise of cholesterol. In turn, that rise can either trigger or make heart issues worse.
In the West, we overconsume meat in general. And to make matters worse, once it’s on the plate, most people treat all other foods as an afterthought. By doing that, they are cutting out all that fiber and nutrients that can minimize the impact trans fats have on our bodies.
One of the reasons why the vegan diet is so beneficial for numerous health issues is the copious amount of nutrients that you can get fish out from plants. Even if you find that going 100% plant-based is not 100% for you, you will reap numerous benefits from having these foods in your diet.
Carbs are not bad. Well, complex carbs are not. And whole grains fall into that category. Not only do they bring additional nutrients to the party, but science also says that a regular consumption can reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
So feel free to have your toast or pasta, just pick ones that are a few shades darker.
Beans and lentils are a great source of protein and healthy complex carbs, as well as numerous micronutrients. Eating a serving of beans every day may lead to vast improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and insulin levels.
And don’t worry about side effects – just continue to eat your beans and thing will slowly get less aromatic.
Any shade of green comes with plenty of nutrients, but this time we are looking at iron and vitamin K. Iron is essential for health of red blood cells, while vitamin K activates proteins that are crucial to blood clotting.
At least something dark green on your plate should do the trick, but try to hit at least two shades if possible.
These little gems tend to have more antioxidants than other fruits. Sugar may be a no-no for someone who is dealing with heart issues, but when it comes in fruity format it also comes with lost of fiber. Fiber is the main ingredient that prevents sugar from behaving matabolicay the same as alcohol, and berries tend to have a high concentration of it.
Try have one half-cup serving every day, either whole or in a smoothie.
Nuts are full of omega 3 fatty acids that are fantastic for the health of the whole cardiovascular system. Your heart in particular loves walnuts. Consider having a handful each day as a snack or as a topping on oatmeal or salads.
Exercise, Veganism, and Heart Health
Going vegan doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise. Just ask Venus Williams, Colin Kaepernick, or Abel Trujillo.
Just remember, before you start with any new exercise program or regiment, check with your doctor first. Exercise will be beneficial to your treatment, but don’t do anything on your own.
And since your body is put to a certain amount of stress when you exercise, make sure to build your diet so it can give you plenty of energy and help with recovery.
When the Diet Switch Is Not Enough
In mild cases, a diet switch could be enough to prevent, postpone, or hopefully even eliminate bigger issues. Even after bigger events, a change of lifestyle can change your health for the better.
Take Kevin Smith, for example. After his heart attack, he put his all into losing excess weight and getting better. After he became a vegan, not only did he get slimmer than ever in his entire life, but his prospects went from shopping for a casket to experiencing new things in life.
But what happens when the lifestyle change is not enough?
Then you do both the lifestyle change and the prescribed therapy. No medicine will work if you’re still dishing out damage to your heart, full stop. It’s like trying to mop up the bathroom floor, while the sink and the tub are still overflowing.
Just a fact that your diet is not harming you anymore is a huge leap forward in the right direction.
What To Watch Out For
Stay on top of your calories and protein. Since the vegan diet is very high in fiber, you may find yourself eating less than you need.
And it’s not like you’ll not get protein from plants – they are all organic life forms which means that they all consist of protein as well. However, you will have to be more vigilant in comparison to someone who doesn’t have the same health issues.
The heart is a muscle, and unfortunately, our bodies are what more efficient at tapping into muscles for energy that they are at getting it from the fat cells. This is why starvation diets lead to heart failure (and this is why we were exposed to horrific videos of models dying on the runway in the past decade or so).
Since you already have a heart condition, you are at greater risk of the lack of calories, protein, and nutrition having a negative impact.
But it’s not the end of the world – you can easily get everything you need from plants. If you’re struggling with calories, include more calorie-dense foods like seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. And you’ll find protein in numerous sources, or you may even consider one of vegan protein powders when you still need more.
And as always, always make sure that you have the green light from your doctor no matter what you do. Maybe even sit down with a dietician to make sure that you’re doing it right.