Posted on Feb 06, 2020, 6 p.m.
This Valentine’s Day aka Singles Awareness Overpriced Commercialized Day why not think of yourself, practice some self love, and express your love by taking care of yourself and your body in the best ways known.
It is worth noting with the upcoming day of love that heart disease is the leading killer in America for both genders. While it has many contributing factors to development, diet is on the top of the list followed by lack of physical activity which are both lifestyle choices and fully correctable.
When it comes to diet many physicians don’t really learn a lot about nutrition in medical school which leads to less than an ideal approach to prevention and treatment of heart disease. Science is coming forth with compelling research, and a group of healthcare professionals are listening and championing the plant based movement by promoting better understandings of the power of food with this evidence.
One of these heart guardians is Joel Kahn, MD, is a seasoned cardiologist who actively promotes a heart healthy diet and lifestyle. Dr. Kahn is on a mission to prevent one million heart attacks, and he says that there are six basic factors which include stopping smoking, being physically active, and following a balanced healthy diet that can help to reduce the risk of heart disease by 92%. Dr. Kahn is an avid Vitamin L promoter, suggesting that lifestyle is the key to preventing an early death. According to America’s Healthy Heart Doc garlic, pomegranates, bergamot, and green tea have heart protecting properties that are particularly good at reversing artery disease.
Michelle McMacken, MD, is another plant based doctor who writes/promotes the myths regarding protein. Dr. McMacken supports Dr. Kahn’s point of lifestyle changes being the best approach to dealing with the root causes of heart disease rather than reaching for pills that only hide the symptoms. This heart friendly doctor sites research that shows how low carb, high protein diets are associated with heart disease and early death.
Neal Barnard, MD, has been one of the leaders in the plant based movement for decades and has not stopped making bold statements such as countering claims of fish being a health food by saying that 1) fish is high in cholesterol, 2) it is high in saturated fats, 3) the effects of fish oil supplements on heart health is inconclusive, and 4) fish is loaded with toxins such as mercury that are dangerous to health. Dr. Barnard suggests that if you are looking for food to help reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes look to plant sources not fish.
Registered dietitian Kayli Dice suggests that people should be loading up on green leafy veggies as much as possible as they are some of the healthiest food choices on the planet for your heart and overall health. These veggies are affordable and loaded with heart friendly nutrients that are linked to lower blood pressure and the prevention/reversal of heart disease. Some of her favorites include a handful of frozen greens in a morning smoothie or as sandwich toppings wrapped in chard or collard greens.
Michael Greger, MD, has some of the most robust collections of plant based research one can find organized by topic and in video format. On his website he offers much information about diet and heart disease. On nutritionfacts.org you can find information about how foods that are high in antioxidants, potassium, and fiber can possibly be protective against heart disease when included in a diet low or free from animal based products, salt, sugar, and excess fats/oils. You can also look up how diets full of dark green leafy veggies, beans, nuts, flax seeds, whole grains, other veggies, as well as herbs and spices can help to promote a long and healthy life.
Plant based is not necessarily the same as being vegan or vegetarian, it can mean that your diet is primarily free from animal based products. Some say they are flexitarian rather than saying that they are plant based. This diet plan is more flexible than being fully vegan or vegetarian and is ideal for those looking to add more plant foods to their diet while cutting back on meat/dairy, but aren’t ready to fully give up all animal based products completely.
This heart day keep in mind that love may be bound by the parameters of the time we have on this planet, and while love may come and go, you only get one heart, so why not do your best to take care of it. Making better choices and some simple heart friendly lifestyle changes can go along way, which includes following a healthy balanced diet, being physically active, keeping stress under control, and getting enough sleep.
On a final note, with Vday in mind, just a reminder that sharing love (and taking care of yourself) does not have to be saved for any one day or occasion, every day is a good day for that. Go on give your special someone a hug or a kiss for no particular reason other than to show you care. Also you don’t have to spend money to show you care, the best things in life are free, go for a walk holding hands with your lovey or canoodle while helping to do the dishes even. One thing that almost always gets overlooked is how special hand made gifts/cards can be, these come from the heart and are often cherished for a lifetime.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.