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World Heart Day 2023: 6 heart-healthy benefits of a plant-centric diet | Health

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ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

As the world observes World Heart Day this Friday, it is time that we reflect on the crucial role of diet in maintaining a healthy heart as taking an estimated 17.9 million lives each year, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain the leading cause of death globally. It is interesting to note that emerging research and clinical evidence highlight the extraordinary potential of a plant-centric diet in promoting heart health and reducing the risk of CVDs.

World Heart Day: Combating stress to reducing bad cholesterol levels, 6 heart-healthy benefits of a plant-centric diet (Shutterstock)
World Heart Day: Combating stress to reducing bad cholesterol levels, 6 heart-healthy benefits of a plant-centric diet (Shutterstock)

The Rise of Plant-Centric Eating

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Nutritionist Nupuur Patil shared, “The concept of a plant-centric diet is gaining traction worldwide, as people and health professionals recognize the profound impact of dietary choices on heart health. Unlike strict vegetarian or vegan diets, a plant-centric approach focuses on making plants the central component of meals while allowing for moderate consumption of animal products. This flexible approach has garnered attention for its potential to reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Nourishing the Heart with Plants

Highlighting that the heart-healthy benefits of a plant-centric diet are rooted in its nutrient-rich and fibre-packed components, Nupuur Patil revealed some key elements that make it a powerful choice for heart health –

  1. Rich in Antioxidants: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds are abundant sources of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, which combat inflammation and oxidative stress—two key drivers of heart disease.
  2. Loaded with Fiber: A diet rich in plant foods provides ample dietary fibre, known to reduce bad cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure. Whole grains, legumes, and vegetables are excellent sources of fibre.
  3. Low in Saturated Fat: By minimizing the consumption of animal-based foods like red meat and full-fat dairy, a plant-centric diet naturally reduces saturated fat intake, a significant risk factor for CVDs.
  4. Heart-Healthy Fats: Incorporating sources of unsaturated fats, such as avocados, nuts, and olive oil, can help lower bad cholesterol levels and protect heart health.
  5. Improved Weight Management: Plant-centric diets are low in calorie density and promote healthy weight management, reducing the strain on the heart.
  6. Blood Pressure Control: Foods like leafy greens, potassium-rich fruits, and legumes support healthy blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of hypertension.

The nutrition expert said, “Scientific research consistently supports the heart-protective advantages of plant-centric eating. Studies have shown that adopting this dietary approach can lead to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and other CVDs. Moreover, such diets can upgrade lipid profiles, reduce blood pressure, and enhance overall cardiovascular health.”

Taking Steps Towards a Healthier Heart

Nupuur Patil concluded, “Embracing a plant-centric rainbow diet, rich in colourful fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins, is a positive step toward reducing the risk of heart disease. It is important to note that while a plant-centric diet offers numerous heart-healthy benefits, individual dietary choices should align with personal health goals and preferences. Therefore, one should always consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian who can provide personalised guidance for optimizing heart health through dietary choices.”

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