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The Secret to a healthy heart

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Over 61 percent of deaths in India are due to our lifestyle- unhealthy eating, zero exercise and serious dependence on technology. In a recent study published by The Lancet Global Health, it is observed that heart diseases cause more than one-fourth of the total deaths in India.

world health dayCardiovascular disease is caused by plaque buildup (mostly cholesterol),which thickens and stiffens artery walls, which in turn inhibits blood flow through arteries to organs and tissues- reports the Mayo Clinic. Though some doctors may recommend a diet which includes animal fat, but it is certain that eating more plants is the best fuel for our body. The biggest suspicion when it comes to eating a plant based diet is the lack of options, but what we don’t consider is that almost all dishes, especially desi ones, can be easily made vegan by replacing dairy products with plant-based ones.

On the occasion of World Heart Day, we spoke with doctors who work on reversing heart disease, diabetes and other common lifestyle diseases without medication and here’s what they have to say!

Dr. Rashmi Menon, Founder, The Ray of Happiness is a physician who heals without medicines and helps her patients reverse their lifestyle diseases including diabetes and cancer said, “Cholesterol is of major importance when it comes to heart health.  Since cholesterol is a hormone created in the liver, it is absent in all kind of plant food. But every animal product has cholesterol, including milk products. When people are diagnosed with high cholesterol, they worry about the coconut and cashew intake, but drink skimmed milk.  Yes, if you eat a large amount of cashew, cholesterol or high fat plant based food, your body will create more unhealthy cholesterol. But when you have dairy, even skimmed milk or low-fat dairy, you are providing the body with direct cholesterol, which then damages the delicate balance of the HDLs and LDLs in the body.”

Dr. Nandita Shah, Founder, SHARAN, a Nari Shakti Puraskar Awardee, said, “Coronary artery disease, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, can be completely prevented and even reversed. Heart disease is the result of narrowing of the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles and occurs largely because of increased fat in our diet. Refined fats like oil, ghee, butter and vanaspati are major culprits as are all animal products. Animal products vary in their amounts of fat content but they all contain a lot more fat than plants and totally lack the protective fibre. 49% of the calories from whole milk come from fat. Skim milk is 35% fat. Meat, fish and chicken are also high in fat. Animal fats are saturated fats and only animal products contain cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in plants, (not even coconut and cashews). A diet low in fats and devoid of all animal products, i.e., a whole plant based diet, protects against heart disease and hypertension and even helps in reversal of these diseases. Smoking and excess salt should be avoided, and vitamin B12 may need to be supplemented if it’s low. The side effects include- increased energy, vitality, lower blood pressure and body weight.“

Not only is a plant based diet better for our heart, but also for our overall health. This World Heart day, let’s promise to eat better, exercise more and live healthier for ourselves!

(Disclaimer: The writer is Varda Mehrotra, Executive Director, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO). Views expressed are personal opinion)

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