Everyone wants to live as long as possible. We also want to live our lives to the fullest, which means staying healthy and able to enjoy the days ahead.
While some changes to our bodies are inevitable as we age, we can still stack the deck in our favor as much as possible by making healthy choices. Eating whole food plant-based meals is one of the most powerful ones you can make, especially when it comes to lowering the risk of heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death in our nation, and the quest to reverse this trend was a big inspiration for the founding of Whole Harvest. Whole food plant-based meals have proven their ability to make a difference, and as it happens, they add a whole lot of flavor, discovery, and joy to our lives along the way.
What do we mean by heart disease?
The first step in preventing and potentially reversing heart disease is understanding it. “Heart disease” can be a bit of a blanket term covering various types of cardiovascular diseases including both coronary artery disease and heart failure.
Coronary artery disease is caused by the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries. Left unchecked, it can result in heart attack and heart failure. Both sound equally menacing, but there is a difference.
- Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart is abruptly cut off altogether. When this happens, the heart muscle immediately starts to die.
- Heart failure is a weakening of the actual heart muscle, making it unable to pump blood to our other organs. This can manifest as edema, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
What are the causes of heart disease?
Heart disease occurs when fatty deposits (known as plaque) build up in the arteries, narrowing and potentially closing off blood flow. There are several factors that contribute to one’s risk of heart disease.
Even genetics may play a small role, but a major culprit of developing heart disease is simply poor diet and exercise habits which lead to high cholesterol.
In fact, according to Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, “Heart disease develops in susceptible persons when blood cholesterol levels rise higher than 150 mg/dL,”. “The converse is also true. A person who maintains blood cholesterol under 150 mg/dL for a lifetime will not develop coronary artery disease—even if he or she smokes, has a family history of coronary disease, suffers from hypertension, and is obese!”
How can we avoid cholesterol?
So, if cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease, what can we do to avoid it? One simple step is avoiding foods are that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat. Some foods to limit or avoid altogether include:
- Meat– It’s pretty widely known that red meat is linked to higher cholesterol, but a study performed in 2019 determined that both red and white meat were responsible for raised blood cholesterol levels.
Plus, eating meat spurs trimethylamineoxide (TMAO) release in the liver. This toxic substance promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques and lessens the body’s ability to excrete cholesterol.
- Dairy– Dairy products like, milk, cheese and butter contain high levels of saturated fat, the kind responsible for raising our LDL cholesterol (otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol) levels.
- Eggs– Information on whether or not eggs are risky for our cholesterol levels has gone back and forth over the years, but this 2019 study that illustrates a “clear dose-response” between eating eggs and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Heavily processed foods– According to a 2019 study in the British Medical Journal, eating significant amounts of super-processed foods notably increased the risk of a serious cardiac event.
- Oils– Speaking of processed foods, even the oils we’ve been told are “heart heathy” are highly processed. They’re also chock full of trans and saturated fats.
Now for the good news!
It’s possible to both prevent and reverse heart disease by embracing a whole food plant-based lifestyle! Why simply mask symptoms with medications when you can address the actual cause just by eating real, fresh food?
Research shows that people eating diets teeming with whole plant foods had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who consumed meat and dairy products. Why, you ask? We’re happy to elaborate!
Unlike animal products, whole plant foods don’t promote plaque buildup in the arteries. In fact, they improve the health of your arteries while reversing previous damage.
You see, once you start to give your bloodstream a rest from regular cholesterol and fat, your body can start stabilizing any already built-up plaque and allow blood passageways to relax on their own, healing the body.
Plus, plant-based eaters produce very little of that toxic, TMAO junk.
At Whole Harvest Kitchen, we know that eating heart healthy should be delicious and exciting. This is why we offer a full menu of 100% whole food plant-based meals!
We can’t wait for you to try all of our whole food plant-based entrees when our first restaurant opens in late ’23 in Kansas City! Visit our website to sign up for our mailing list and be the first to know when we open!
Wherever you are on your whole food plant-based journey, there’s no such thing as too much education. If you’re curious about whether whole food plant-based
Every day, growing numbers of people switch to a whole food plant-based lifestyle. It’s hardly a brand-new concept, so why does it suddenly feel like