Keep your heart healthy with a plant-based diet!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. But studies show that a healthful, plant-based diet not only prevents heart disease, but can often help to manage and even reverse it.
Physicians Committee researchers recently looked through the data on diet and heart health and published a scientific review in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases that found that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 40%, reduces the risk of coronary heart disease by 40%, fully or partially opens blocked arteries in up to 91% of patients, reduces the risk of hypertension by 34%, lowers total and LDL cholesterol by an average of 29 mg/dL and 23 mg/dL, respectively, compared with non-vegetarian diets.
What makes a plant-based diet so beneficial for heart health? Plant-based diets are typically:
- High in fiber: Plants are rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber. Fiber is found exclusively in plant foods.
- High in potassium: Fruits and vegetables are often rich in potassium, which improves blood pressure. Plant-based foods that are especially high in potassium include: tomato products, bok choy, raisins, mangoes, potatoes, and kale.
- Free of cholesterol: Plant foods contain no cholesterol. Diets high in cholesterol—found in meat, dairy products, and eggs—raise cholesterol levels, which increases heart attack risk.
- Low in saturated fat: Plant-based diets are typically low in dangerous saturated fat. Studies show that those who eat diets high in saturated fat increase their risk of early death from heart disease. Foods high in saturated fat include cheese, beef, milk, and butter.