“A plant-based diet is increasingly becoming recognized as a healthier alternative to a diet laden with meat. Atherosclerosis (a plaque build-up in the coronary arteries) -- associated with a high dietary intake of meat, fat, and carbohydrates -- remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. This condition results from progressive damage to cells lining the vascular system, which includes the heart,” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity,” the NIH recommends.
“Healthy eating, through a plant-based diet, is defined as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meat, dairy products, and eggs, as well as all refined and processed foods,” the NIH explains.
“Research shows that these diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases, and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates.”
To start, consume more nutrient-dense plant foods, and less processed foods, oils, and animal foods, including dairy and eggs. The NIH encourages eating lots of cooked and raw vegetables, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, seeds, and nuts.
Plant-based diets are nutrient dense, nourishing the body with vitamins and stomach-filling fiber. The NIH adds, “We can’t cure chronic diseases, but we may be able to prevent and control them by changing how we eat.”
A sample day’s menu could start with a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal topped with blueberries; a lunch of lentil soup with a spring greens salad with broccoli, radishes, and a nut-based dressing; and for dinner, a vegetable quinoa pilaf with sweet potatoes, tomato bisque, and frozen bananas for dessert.
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