Vegetarian diets come with a series of health benefits. They are able to lower your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is the foundation of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Metabolic syndrome sufferers develop at least three out of the five major heart health risk factors: high blood sugar, hypertension, low levels of good cholesterol, high triglycerides level and an increased waist size.
A study published in Diabetes Care analyzed 700 adult individuals and found that about 25 % of vegetarians suffered from metabolic syndrome, compared to 37% of semi-vegetarians and 39% of meat eaters. This is only one of a large number of studies that prove a vegetarian diet is good for heart health and decreases the risk of obesity and hypertension.
Reasons Why Switching To A Vegetarian Diet Is Good For Your Heart
Danya L. Dinwoodey, MD, a cardiologist at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, Mass., says the greatest benefit for the heart is the substitution of proteins of animal origin with proteins from vegetables. This makes such a diet extremely low in fats and cholesterol.
This is not the only benefit. Here are a few others:
More fiber makes better cholesterol. Dr. Dinwoodey gives the advice to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains, as they are very rich in fiber, thus contributing to the heart health. Besides, they supply fewer calories, thus filling you up much faster, and enabling a better weight management. This lowers the risk of obesity, so it’s good for your heart health.
Leafy greens and fruits are very high in antioxidants, thus offering an effective protection against heart disease. This doesn’t mean that if you make the switch to a vegetarian diet, you are never going to get heart disease. However, your risk of developing it decreases compared to the risk of those who are non-vegetarians.
Adjusting This Knowledge To Suit Your Diet
Dr. Dinwoodey also said one can still benefit even if they don’t give up meat completely, but reduce it. Even if they substitute some of the meat with fruits or vegetables a few times per week, their heart health will improve and their risk for developing heart disease will be lower.
Tips For Better Weight Management While On A Partially Vegetarian Diet
Make sure your plate is half full of vegetables at each meal.
Regardless of other foods, try to eat about nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Eat less starchy, nutrient-poor vegetables like potatoes and increase the amount of leafy greens and other nutrient-rich veggies.
Dr. Dinwoodey says you should visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventionís Web site Fruits and Veggies Matter in order to understand and learn about the nutritional facts of various fruits and vegetables.
Give Up Meat One Or Twice A Week
If you are used to eating meat, it’s going to be hard to give it up completely. However, you can still try to improve your heart health by choosing one or two days a week when you eat only vegetables and fruits. Here are a few ideas of meatless meals:
Breakfast: Give up your bacon and eggs and replace them with a big bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit. If you want, you can also choose a whole grain English muffin and eat it with a little peanut butter.
Lunch: Instead of a meat sandwich or a hamburger, try a rich vegetable soup and a whole-wheat burrito with black beans.
Dinner: Forget your favorite spaghetti-meatballs combination and choose a dinner of pasta with eggplant, courgette, and roasted garlic.
Snacks and desserts: Give up cakes and cookies, and choose fruit smoothies or banana split with blueberries, watermelon or other fresh fruit instead.
The main idea of this study is that by replacing your meat meals with vegetables and fruits, you are going to benefit from a better heart health. Remember to exercise regularly and you can enjoy a good life, with very low risk of heart disease.