Look, you know that fruits and vegetables are good for your heart. But how good? Well, a new study published in the Journal of the American Cardiology suggests eating a plant-based diet could cut your chances of heart failure by a whopping 41 percent. On the other hand, diets focused on meats, fried and processed food, and sweet tea—coined the “Southern Diet—was associated with a 72-percent risk increase for heart failure.
That’s one major swing.
Why do fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods continually show up their sugary, fatty, and processed counterparts? A lot of it may have to do with inflammation. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients, many plant-based foods help to provide a healthy, efficient environment for your body.
On the other hand, the greasy, processed, fatty, and sugary stuff promote inflammation by lacking fiber and the other important nutrients. The nutrition they do contain, like refined sugars, high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, trans fats, and high levels of saturated fats all can send your immune system into overdrive when consumed regularly. The result could be hardened and clogged arteries.
It’s important to note that inflammation is not a proven cause of heart disease. That said, it is very common for people suffering from heart attacks or strokes to have inflammation. Furthermore, inflammation may be key to the development of atherosclerosis—a buildup of fatty plaques along arterial walls—resulting in more narrow and rigid arteries. In turn, the heart has a much harder time pumping blood through the body.
You don’t need to go all plants all the time to experience the potential benefits of more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods. Swapping them in for sides and snacks—like a salad or side of green beans; an apple or some berries—can get you on the right track. Switching a saucy pulled pork sandwich or fried chicken for some lean meat, like grilled, seasoned chicken breast, may also lead to improvements.
What’s truly amazing is how quickly making some dietary alterations may be able to reverse some of the damage done by a highly-inflammatory diet. For example, the plant-based Portfolio diet that emphasizes nuts, plant protein, soluble fiber, and plant sterols has been observed to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol by 17-percent, drop total cholesterol, inflammatory markers, and diastolic blood pressure. It was also noted to reduce coronary heart disease risk by 13 percent.
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