Study Found Plant-Based Diet Reduces Heart Failure Risk by 41%

Before doctors dole out prescriptions for the prevention of heart failure and the conditions linked to heart disease, they may want to start writing “fruits and vegetables” on their prescription pads. That’s because new research shows that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts, can dramatically reduce the risk of heart failure.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, assessed 16,068 participants with an average age of 64 to determine whether adherence to a plant-based diet had an effect on their heart failure risk. The participants included 58.7 percent women and 33.6 percent people of African-American descent.

They classified the diets of the study participants into different groups, including:

  • “Convenience” diets—which consisted of meat-heavy dishes, pasta, pizza and fast food;
  • “Southern” diets—which comprise a large amount of fried foods, processed meat, eggs, added fats and sugary drinks
  • “Alcohol/Salad” diets—which include plentiful amounts of wine, beer, hard liquor, beer, leafy greens and salad dressings
  • “Plant-Based” diets—which the study authors counted as largely vegetables, fruit, beans, as well as fish. The definition of plant-based varies from one person to another but essentially it means that plant-based foods dominate. Some people believe that plant-based equals a vegan diet, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

The researchers found that those who ate a plant-based diet had a whopping 41 percent reduced risk of heart failure. Anything that reduces the risk of a serious condition like heart failure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 5.7 million American suffer from heart failure, a condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to supply the organs in the body. While it is a serious condition, it does not mean that the heart has stopped functioning altogether.

How to Benefit from the Research

It’s easier than you think to switch to a plant-based diet to help prevent or treat heart failure. Here is a 6-step approach to eating a healthy, plant-based diet:

Eliminate red meat, which is highly inflammatory, and best avoided if you are worried about your heart health. Choose plant-based protein options or fish instead. They include: nuts, seeds, organic tofu, beans and quinoa, the latter of which is a good source of vegetarian protein.

Cut out processed and packaged foods, favoring homemade foods that are created from scratch. No, that doesn’t mean using packaged ingredients like soup bouillon or bottled sauces as part of the meal. It means knowing all the ingredients that go into your meal because you’re the one who put them there.

Eliminate sweetened drinks and sugary sodas. These foods have been implicated in poor heart health and are not part of a healthy diet. I make delicious iced teas from nothing other than brewed tea (no, not the crystals), lemon juice and some of the natural herbal sweetener stevia. It is a delicious alternative to bottled iced tea that is healthier and better for the planet (no bottles). It makes a great soda substitute as well because you can brew either caffeinated black tea or use herbal or decaffeinated varieties, depending on your personal preference.

Make vegetables the star of every meal. Many people claim they don’t like vegetables, to which I say, “you simply haven’t tried them in the right way yet.” No, that doesn’t mean battered and fried. Choose cooking methods that heighten the delicious flavors of vegetables like roasting or sautéing. You can add roasted beets, asparagus, bell peppers, sweet potato, squash or other great vegetables to soups, salads, stews, curries and many other dishes. Use your imagination. Don’t just eat the same pulpy tomatoes and flavorless iceberg lettuce.

Choose fruit over sweets. Before you consider eating pastries or other sweet foods, eat a bowl of blueberries, grab an apple or enjoy a delicious peach or pear. Whenever I have a sweet tooth I take frozen blueberries, thaw them slightly and eat them in place of a decadent dessert. They taste like blueberry sorbet and are absolutely delicious and satisfy even the worst sweet tooth.

Eat at least one salad daily. But, make it a gourmet, meal-style salad with a base of leafy greens (real greens, not iceberg lettuce), sprinkle some pumpkin seeds or chopped almonds or walnuts over it, add some roasted vegetables, and even some berries or green apple slices. Don’t hold back. Use your creativity to make your salad sing. And, top it all off with a homemade dressing which is simple to make by mixing one part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts olive oil in a mason jar, along with a pinch of sea salt, some fresh or dried herbs or garlic or a handful of berries, and a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup or honey. Vigorously shake the jar after replacing the lid, or blend with a hand mixer until you reach the desired consistency.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM shares her food growing, cooking, and other food self-sufficiency adventures at FoodHouseProject.com. She is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News, founder of Scent-sational Wellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Be Your Own Herbalist: Essential Herbs for Health, Beauty, & Cooking. Follow her work.

 

100 comments

Alice L
Alice L6 days ago

thanks

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara10 days ago

If you grab a sandwich at lunchtime, even a toasted panini, you can ask for it to be vegetable and cheese.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara10 days ago

I can't eat a salad every day, this is Ireland, it gets cold in winter. I tried one year and I was not doing well on the cold lunches so I had to go back to my home made soups.

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lynda leigh
lynda leigh11 days ago

It’s easier than you think to switch to a plant-based diet to help prevent or treat heart failure.

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Ingrid A
Ingrid A16 days ago

Thank you for posting

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara18 days ago

We enjoy casserole made with plain sausages and mixed veg. Addsome chopped chilli and fresh coriander and maybe sliced apple. Bonus points for any organic ingredients.

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara18 days ago

Add salad to your lunch sandwich

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara18 days ago

About the salad dressing ... I was with the writer until she added a spoon of maple syrup.

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Carla G
Carla G18 days ago

thanks

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David C
David C19 days ago

good, thanks

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