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Tips for a Heart-Healthy Vegan Diet

Healthy-Heart-Vegan
4 min reading time

5 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Vegan Diet

Following a plant-based diet does wonders for heart health. Studies have shown that a balanced vegan diet not only prevents heart disease but can often help to manage and even reverse it.

How does a plant-based diet remove plaque from arteries?

Clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, are associated with a high intake of meat, fat, and refined carbohydrates. Atherosclerosis is usually what leads to a heart attack or another form of heart disease. 

Build-up of plaque is also linked to other dietary and lifestyle factors like lack of physical activity and smoking. 

A plant-based diet is great for heart health because plant foods naturally remove plaque buildup in arteries. Plant foods rich in polyphenols and low in carnitine especially have a positive effect. 

Plant foods are naturally absent of cholesterol and are often lower in saturated fat, too. 

How long it takes for a vegan diet to clean arteries depends on day-to-day eating habits. It is well-known however, that changing diet and lifestyle, as well as taking medications, will slow the progression of heart disease, and even possibly reverse it.  

Heart-Health-Vegan

Here are my top 5 tips for a heart healthy vegan diet:

   1.Up your potassium intake

Potassium plays an opposite role of sodium in the body, helping to lower blood pressure. Oranges, avocados, bananas, potatoes, and many other fruits and veggies are all rich sources of potassium.

 As a rule of thumb, whole foods are typically high in potassium, while processed foods are low in potassium.

   2. Eat nuts on the daily

The famous Nurses’ Health Study found that those who ate nuts or peanut butter five or more times per week had a 44 percent reduction in heart attack risk compared to those who almost never ate nuts.

Nuts have positive impacts on blood cholesterol levels and can also help with weight control. They are rich in unsaturated fats, which have many benefits for our health.

A healthy vegan diet for heart disease prevention should include one to two servings of nuts per day.

   3. Get enough Omega-3

Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. It’s an essential component of all our cells. Omega 3 fatty acids help lower risk of heart disease, dementia, and arthritis. 

The best vegan sources of omega 3 are hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and flax seeds. Make sure that your daily diet includes these or take a 250-500mg daily supplement to maximize the effects of a heart-healthy vegan diet.

Instead of fish oil, vegan omega 3 supplements are made from microalgae.

   4. Aim to control your body weight

Being overweight contributes to high blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and high triglycerides. 

Keeping a healthy body weight, and avoiding frequent weight fluctuation, can lower your risk for heart disease. 

Being vegan for heart health makes it easier to control body weight. Plant foods are naturally less calorie-dense and higher in fibre. These can lead to feeling fullness without overeating. 

Plant foods also provide energy and can make movement easier. Often, people also have more energy, reduced inflammation, and they feel better overall after removing animal products from their diet. 

Engaging in sports, exercise, and physical activity are great complements to a heart-healthy vegan diet.

Check out this article for tips on how to lose weight on a vegan diet. 

   5. Keep the focus on whole foods

Whole grains, beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats are key for a heart-healthy vegan diet.

Refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, salt, and added sugar all contribute to higher risk of heart disease. 

Aim to fill ¼ of your plate or bowl with whole grains like brown and wild rice, barley, bulgur, and quinoa, or starchy vegetables, like green peas, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, and winter squash. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals, including oats. 

A Registered Dietitian can help you incorporate more whole foods into your vegan diet for heart disease. It’s a good idea to stock up on plenty of heart healthy vegan staples so that you always have a base available when you want to cook a simple vegan meal.

Heathy-Vegan-Heart

Vegan recipes for heart health

There are countless delicious, simple, and heart healthy vegan meal ideas out there! 

Some of my favourites are:

The keys to a heart-healthy vegan diet

I hope this guide to maintaining a heart-healthy vegan diet will help you in your journey. 

If you have additional questions check out my other articles and consider meeting with a registered dietitian who can guide you and can help you adopt a well-planned, balanced, plant