Dairy and other animal fats have been shown to put you at risk of heart disease and stroke
Dairy products contain varying amounts of fat but a considerable portion of it is always saturated fat. This study investigated the link between dairy fat intake and the incidence of heart disease and stroke among 220,000 people whose diets and health were followed for decades.
- Subtitle:It is time to shout it from the roof tops – going vegan is the most powerful tool we have to lower blood pressure.
High blood pressure is almost entirely preventable and yet devastates millions of lives, including the young. Juliet Gellatley of Viva! reveals how you can defeat it with a vegan diet
What’s the number one risk factor for death in the world?
Let’s face it, we all know we could eat healthier but we also want to be able to treat ourselves every now and then.
A healthy vegan diet is based on fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, pulses (lentils, beans, soya, chickpeas), nuts and seeds (with the obligate addition of vitamin B12 supplement).
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic risk factors associated with premature death, an increased risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The main symptoms are abdominal obesity, raised fat levels in the blood, higher blood pressure and higher than normal blood sugar levels. Between 20 and 30 per cent of the adult population worldwide are estimated to have metabolic syndrome. Nut consumption has been shown to improve blood fat levels and reduce the risk of heart disease but because nuts are high fat, they are perceived as fattening.
Fibre as a natural part of our diet, improves our fat and sugar metabolism, blood vessel function, helps control blood pressure and facilitates weight loss. Our bodies evolved on fibre-rich foods and we need plenty to be healthy. A recent study looked at the diet of people who had suffered a heart attack in order to assess how changes in their diet post-heart attack might influence their health and survival chances.
We all know that fibre is good for us and we should eat plenty of fibre-rich foods every day but a new study shows it’s even more beneficial than we thought! Six meat-eating obese people with type 2 diabetes and/or high blood pressure were assigned to a strict vegetarian, high-fibre, low-fat diet for one month. At the end of the month, the diet had not only achieved weight loss but just about every marker of previous bad health – cholesterol, fats and blood sugar - was improved. Two people’s results showed they could no longer be diagnosed as diabetics.
One of the branches of the extensive EPIC-Oxford study focusing on lifestyle and various diseases produced exciting results. Data gained from over 44,000 people, each of them being followed for about 11 years were analysed. Compared with non-vegetarians, vegetarians had lower body weight, blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Overall, vegetarians had a 32 per cent lower risk of heart disease than non-vegetarians.
A new study suggests that eating pulses (beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, etc.) on a regular basis can prevent metabolic syndrome - characterised by being overweight or obese with the accumulation of fat mainly around the waist, raised blood pressure and increased fat and sugar levels in the blood (considered to be pre-diabetic). In the study, people who consumed the most pulses (around 2.5 portions per week) had lower blood pressure, blood sugar levels and a better ratio of bad v good fats in the blood than those people who consumed less.
Many studies have found that vegetarians have lower blood pressure than the population at large but the latest one decided to look at a geographically diverse population containing vegans, lacto-ovo vegetarians and omnivores. The research team concluded that vegetarians, especially vegans, do have lower blood pressure and suffer less often from hypertension than meat-eaters. Vegans were also less likely to take hypertension drugs than vegetarians and meat-eaters.
A study looking at the diets of almost 800 middle-aged and elderly people clearly showed that vegetarians were at a much lower risk of metabolic syndrome – a bunch of health problems (such as high blood pressure, bad cholesterol, blood sugar, body weight and waist circumference) increasing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease – than meat-eaters. A plant based diet was therefore recommended for maintaining good health.
A recently published study of 7,087 people over the age of 65 revealed that people with metabolic syndrome are at an increased risk of cognitive decline. Metabolic syndrome is a condition characterised by central obesity (most weight accumulated around the waist), raised blood pressure, raised triglycerides (fats in the blood), low HDL cholesterol (the ‘good’ type that helps to clear cholesterol from the bloodstream) and raised blood sugar levels.
According to a large-scale study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, fibre-rich foods reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular, infectious, and respiratory diseases. The study of 388,000 male and female Americans aged 50 to 71 also showed that frequent consumption of these foods can also decrease the overall risk of cancer. Whole grains were found to be most beneficial among fibre rich foods in this aspect. Fibre has also gained reputation for helping to stabilise blood pressure and cholesterol, and is therefore helpful for diabetics and heart patients.
A traditional Mediterranean diet with a daily serving of mixed nuts may help manage a range of risk factors linked to heart disease. A Spanish study of over 1,000 older adults found that a Mediterranean diet enriched with 30 grams a day of nuts (three of each of the following: almonds, Brazils, cashews, walnuts and pistachios) could help control abdominal fat, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Nuts are a good source of fibre, arginine (an essential amino acid), potassium, calcium and magnesium.
New research in the British Medical Journal suggests that eating red meat can increase blood pressure (BP). This study found that the different types of iron (haem iron and non-haem iron) have opposite effects on blood pressure; non-haem iron (mainly from plant foods) lowered blood pressure, whereas haem iron (from red meat) increased it. High blood pressure is linked to heart disease and stroke.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. But we are not sure why... New research from Barts and the London School of Medicine suggests compounds called nitrates found in green leafy vegetables may be responsible. This work showed that drinking 500ml of beetroot juice a day lowered blood pressure within an hour, the effect lasted for up to 24 hours. More than a quarter of the world’s adults have high blood pressure and it is estimated that this figure will increase to nearly a third by 2025.
Berries are a particularly rich source of vitamin C and compounds called polyphenols. New research from the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki in Finland shows that eating moderate amounts of berries improved cholesterol levels and lowered blood pressure. The results indicate that regular consumption of berries may play a role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Other sources of polyphenols include cocoa, tea and red wine.