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Why a Plant-Based Lifestyle is Good for Your Heart

Why consider eating mostly a whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet? Overall, it is a sure way to strengthen and build a healthy immune system. A diet filled primarily with fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes include a plethora of essential nutrients.

Go Plant Based for Your Immune System & Heart

How do plant-based foods strengthen your immune system and promote heart health? Here are 5 reasons.

  1. Plant-based foods are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, therefore lowers cholesterol levels. Saturated fat and cholesterol are two of the main contributors to heart disease. 
  2. Plant-based foods improves blood sugar control. High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of heart disease. Plant-based foods are high in fiber, which can help to improve blood sugar control. A study published in the journal Diabetes Care, found that people with type-2 diabetes who followed a plant-based diet for 12 weeks had significantly better blood sugar control than those who followed a standard Western diet. It also helps you feel full, which can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Plant-based foods can help to lower blood pressure. Plant-based foods are also high in potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who followed a plant-based diet for 4 weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than those who followed a standard Western diet.
  4. Plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. Antioxidants help to protect your cells from damage, which can lead to heart disease. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that have a variety of health benefits, including promoting heart health.
  5. Plant-based foods reduces chronic inflammation. Eating mostly a plant-based diet provides all the essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants and anthocyanins. Together, they offer anti-inflammatory,  antiviral and anticancer benefits.

My Favorites for Heart Health

Here are some of my favorite examples of plant-based foods that are good for your heart:

  • Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, apples, and bananas are all good sources of fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
  • Vegetables: Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and tomatoes are all good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Whole grains: Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats are good sources of fiber, B vitamins, and magnesium.
  • Legumes: Beans, lentils, and peas are good sources of protein, fiber, and iron.
  • Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins.

How to Start

If you’re considering eating more of a plant-based diet, take it slow. Start by gradually adding more plant-based foods to your diet. A good way to do that is to choose two nights a week to make meatless meals (Meatless Monday concept). You don’t have to go 100% plant-based or vegan overnight. For ideas on plant-based options, check out some of my recipes on my website direct from the Power of 5 Test Kitchen, sign up to get free recipes to come directly to your email box, or get a copy of my latest cookbook – Power of 5 Test Kitchen Your Guide to Healthy Cooking and Eating. My cookbook is packed with valuable information on healthy cooking and eating and 101 recipes to choose from!

Lastly, make sure you’re getting enough protein. There are many plant-based sources of protein, such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, or grilled fish or chicken (on days you are not eating plant-based). It’s a lifestyle change that your body, brain and heart will thank you for … just for the health of it!

Wrapping up our discussion and encouraging you to try a plant-based recipe with one of my favorite summer soups – gazpacho!

Since we are all experiencing extremely hot days this summer, this cool and refreshing cold soup is filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and loaded with antioxidants. It is a perfect heart healthy soup for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I know you will make this gazpacho recipe over and over again due to its ease of prep and health benefits. It can be a staple on your journey to adding more whole grain, plant-based meals to your lifestyle!

To Healthy Cooking & Eating!

Melissa

Gazpacho Soup

An easy to make cold soup that also may be served hot!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Hors d’oeuvres/Appetizers, Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs Ripe red tomatoes Cored and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 med Cubanelle pepper or another long light green pepper Cored, seeded and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 med Cucumber Peeled and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 small Onion (white or red) Peeled and roughly cut into chunks
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 2 tsp Sherry vinegar More to taste
  • to taste Salt
  • 1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil More to taste, plus more for drizzling
  • 6 or more drops Tabasco sauce To taste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce Omit for vegan or vegetarian option

Instructions
 

  • Combine tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and garlic in a blender. Blend at high speed until very smooth (~2min).
  • With blender running, add vinegar, salt, tabasco, and Worcestershire sauce. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The mixture will turn dark pink or bright orange as it becomes smooth.
  • Strain the mixture through a strainer pushing the liquid through with a spatula or back of a ladle. Discard the solids.
  • Transfer to a large glass pitcher and chill until very cold. At least six hours or overnight.
  • Before serving, add additional seasoning if desired. If soup is very thick, add a little bit of ice water.

Notes

Melissa’s Modifications:
Very low-cal and filled with vitamins and antioxidants, this is a summer favorite. I often like to keep my gazpacho chunky, omitting putting it through the blender. If you prefer this texture, chop all the vegetable in small pieces.
Nutritional Value: 1 serving (8oz) 61 Calories; 3.4g Fat; 0 Cholesterol; 209.3mg Sodium; 7.1g Carbs – 1.4g Fiber, 5.9g Sugar; 1.5g Protein.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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