Vegetarian diets are re-gaining acceptance and respect within the society. After years of research, scientists have now accepted that vegetarian diet offers all the nutritional requirements needed by humans to lead a healthy life. Vegetarian diets are proven to better manage many lifestyle diseases including diabetes and heart disorders. Nutritionists and health experts the world over are increasingly recommending vegetarian diet for heart health.
While non-vegetarian diet is not ‘unhealthy’, it does include higher concentration of saturated fats and increased amounts of sodium. These in turn are responsible for higher blood pressure, increased levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. Obesity – the increasing reason behind higher instances of heart problems is also more prevalent in non-vegetarians as compared to vegetarians. There are multiple benefits of vegetarian diets and heart health is perhaps the most crucial one.
Cardio-vascular Health – Keeping your heart healthy
Heart attack is a leading cause of death worldwide. Changing economies, geographies and increasing sedentary lifestyle has led to a rapid increase in heart related disorders. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, all spell trouble for the heart.
The COVID19 pandemic has made every beating heart more susceptible to danger. Adding to the already existing burden of lifestyle related disorders, the pandemic has left many people with weakened hearts. Doctors have reported an increased number of people who had fully recovered from COVID returning with a variety of heart troubles. As such, it becomes extremely important to take care of the heart.
What people need to understand, however, is that heart is only an organ and in order to keep it healthy, one must strive for complete cardio-vascular health. Cardio means heart and vascular refers to the blood vessels. Among the many disorders that could lead to a heart attack, some are related only with the heart, and some are related with the vessels.
Vegetarian Diet for Heart Health
A person is what a person eats. What we consume is eventually broken down by the body and consumed as different nutrients. These nutrients in turn are converted by the body and used for various functions and repair. Needless to say, what we eat directly impacts our heart as well.
Non-vegetarian diet is rich in sodium and unsaturated fats which lead to increase in blood pressure and higher triglycerides and cholesterol in body. In comparison, vegetarian or plant-based diets offer a far more balanced nutrition, is rich in fiber and keeps your gut and heart healthy. Vegetarian diets are also rich in antioxidants that reduce the free radicals in the body and held in reduction of cholesterol. Seeds and nuts are a power house of essential fatty acids that help in maintaining good heart health. In fact, cashew-nuts are an excellent supplement to keep the heart healthy. Alsi seeds are another superfood which are known to promote overall heart health.
Vegetarian Diet for Heart Health: Sample meal plan/ Diet Chart for Healthy Heart
|Early Morning||Cashew nuts/ garlic clove – 2 glasses of warm water|
|Breakfast||Besan Chilla/ 2 Idli with chutney/ Vegetable Parantha cooked in small quantities of ghee not oil|
|Mid-Morning||Serving of season fruit – any fruit|
|Lunch||50% oats + 50% Wheat flour Chappati (2 – 3) with vegetables + 1 bowl of dahi and bowl of fresh salad (without salt)|
|Evening Snack||Tea with sprouted dal (either roasted or as chat)|
|Dinner||50% oats + 50% Wheat flour Chappati (2) with vegetables and bowl of fresh salad (without salt)|
Important Points to Remember:
The diet chart provided here is only sample for otherwise healthy people. People suffering from any medical conditions are advised to consult their doctor before starting a diet plan. Also, the key to any successful diet is moderation and consistency.
Remember, home cooked food is better than outside or packed foods any day. For maximum health benefits, insist on home cooked fresh food. For good heart health, moderate the consumption of salt in your diet. Also, for vegetables increase the quantity of gourds (bottle gourds, bitter gourds, etc.) and limit the tuberous vegetables.
Oil or refined oils used (even the healthy heart oils) are not healthy. Doctors recommend a tablespoon of oil for cooking the vegetables with maximum consumption of about 2 tablespoon of oil a day. People who are at higher risk of heart problems or are suffering from heart problems should avoid deep friend food. Moderate quantities of Ghee, however, is okay and and even healthy as it is rich in essential fatty acids, is easy to digest, improves sleep and immunity and overall checks inflammation in the body. Remember, good health is not a number but a lifestyle commitment.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before starting any fitness programme or making any changes to your diet. For personalized diet plan, please contact the author on the number shared.