During his recent visit to Las Vegas, former U.S. president Bill Clinton promoted the benefits of a vegan diet, crediting it with improving his heart health. He experienced heart problems in the past, which included a heart bypass surgery. But can a vegan diet really help your heart? Of course, to have a healthy heart, there are important lifestyle tips you should follow, such as quitting smoking and getting enough exercise. However, there’s no doubt that eating healthier and avoiding animal products in your diet can be a hugely positive choice. Here's why:
- You Avoid Saturated Fats
Mainly found in meat and dairy (although also coconut oil), saturated fats are bad for your heart because they boost cholesterol in your blood. This can lead to a greater risk of heart disease. If you switch from animal products to fresh produce, this lowers your level of cholesterol.
- You Top Up on Fiber
You know that fibre is good to keep you regular, but it's also linked to heart health. Again, it’s about cholesterol. Fiber helps to break down cholesterol in your blood, preventing the number from getting too high which can affect the healthy functioning of your heart.
- You Can Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight puts pressure on your heart. It is also linked to heart disease because the extra weight is associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cholesterol, and high blood pressure - these all contribute to heart problems. Following a low-calorie vegan diet can help you maintain a healthy weight. In a study, vegans lost more pounds than people who ate animal products in their diets. They also lost 4.3 percent more of their body weight than other participants, even when they ate carbs.
- You Eat Antioxidants
Antioxidants, found mainly in fresh fruits and veggies, fight free radicals in the body. These can damage your organs, such as your heart, so you want to eat antioxidants that will kill them off. By eating a vegan diet that’s filled with lots of fresh produce on a daily basis, this naturally boosts your antioxidant levels.
*Image courtesy Yuriy Shevtsov / Dollar Photo Club