“National Wear Red Day—Feb. 6 this year—brings attention to the fact that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. But to really begin saving lives this February, women must do more than change the clothes they put on their bodies—they need to change the foods they put in their bodies.
Start with something easy. Accessorize that red outfit with a red apple. An apple a day could be as effective as statins at preventing or delaying many cardiovascular deaths, according to one recent study.
But a daily apple doesn’t necessarily keep the cardiologist away. Beating heart disease—which kills more than 1,000 women a day—means not only eating more fruits and veggies, it means putting down the pizza, banning the bacon, and ditching other products loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, which are known to promote heart disease.
That includes low-carb staples such as grilled chicken, Greek yogurt and salmon. A recent American Heart Association study found that heart attack survivors were 51 percent more likely to die from heart disease if following a low-carbohydrate diet high in animal-based protein and fat.
Once you’ve shed the meat and dairy products, try on something plant-based. It’s what Kim Williams, M.D., president of the American College of Cardiology, did in 2003 to significantly reduce his LDL “bad” cholesterol levels from 170 to 90 in just six weeks. He’s been vegan ever since. Dr. Williams will present “A Plant-Based Diet for Cardiovascular Disease” in Washington, D.C., at the International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine: Cardiovascular Disease.
An abundance of scientific research has also confirmed a plant-based diet’s ability to fight—and even reverse—heart disease. A study of patients with cardiovascular disease published last year found that 81 percent of participants on a diet free of fish, meat, dairy and added oils improved their symptoms and experienced fewer complications from heart disease. Twenty-two percent saw a complete reversal of their condition.
But veggie meals—like Green Glamour Smoothies and Cuban Black Bean and Potato Soup—don’t only fight heart disease, they promote weight loss. A new study the Physicians Committee just published found that adopting a vegetarian diet leads to weight loss—without calorie counting or exercise.
Why is maintaining a healthful weight so important? Obesity can lead to not only heart disease, but diabetes, cancer, and many other chronic diseases. A study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that “healthy” obese adults were eight times more likely to develop chronic diseases over time.”
From “How Changing Your Diet Can Change Your Heart” By Cameron Wells, M.P.H, R.D.