What’s the best way, from a nutritional perspective, to prevent heart disease? The clinical and research work of Caldwell Esselstyn, MD and Colin Campbell MD. notes that a vegetarian diet has extremely positive outcomes not only in preventing heart disease but also in reversing already established heart disease. Their documentary Forks over Knives is a compelling journey through their work and I highly recommend it.
I suggest, however, that a vegetarian diet may not be appealing or suitable for everyone who wants to prevent heart disease. It is definitely worth exploring but if you find you've made multiple adjustments in your menu and are still leaning toward frequent snacking on junk foods, vegetarian many not be for you.
For those of you who like your meat or seafood,the key is to make prudent choices. For meat, choose 3-4 oz. portions of antibiotic and hormone free meat, and grass fed organic if you can afford it. For seafood, choose wild salmon and mackerel from a reputable fish market. Make vegetables and whole grains like brown rice or quinoa the major portions on your plate. And finally, eliminate all forms of processed foods to reduce your intake of sugar and unhealthy fats, both of which are linked to heart disease and other inflammatory conditions.
Taking the time to plan, prepare and eat regular whole foods based meals is a powerful way to protect your heart. When you make this a way of life, you will re-capture the experience of eating real food. You will also have an opportunity to eat consciously when you sit down for a real meal, a major factor in tuning into your appetite and hunger that just doesn’t happen when you eat processed foods on the run.
Heart disease does not develop overnight. It is the end result of many years of poor quality food intake and other lifestyle deficiencies. All of these are habits, good or bad, and can be changed when you become fully aware of the effects of your lifestyle choices. A healthy heart gives you untold opportunities for a long and healthy life.
Watch Forks over Knives for an inspiring look at the power of food to keep you, and even get you, healthy.