Food Power: Eat to Beat Heart Disease

Eat Veggies for Your HeartWhile prescription drugs seem like an easy fix for heart trouble, this two-part series looks at an easy alternative fix to safeguard you against heart disease—diet.

Food Power: Plants vs. Animals for Heart Disease (part two)

The typical approach to the management of heart disease is pharmaceuticals. If you have some form of heart disease and are receiving care from a doctor, this is probably the approach recommended.

However, there are other healthcare providers who have a different approach to managing one of the most common reasons why people die early in the United States. There is a better way and it is often overlooked. What if I was to tell you that this way involved a special diet to control your blood pressure, levels of blood fats and decrease your weight in lieu of the common drug therapies?

One Canadian cardiologist is trying to get his patients to do away with their cholesterol-lowering drugs and substitute them with a vegan-style diet. Dr. Shane Williams advocates that his patients not eat animal food and consume a plant-based diet full of vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

According to Williams, “People do not know the power of food. The challenge is that this takes time.”

Go Vegan for Your Heart

This innovative thinker has been using this strategy for his patients for years and even has group sessions to preach the benefits of veganism while trying to get the individual patient to concentrate harder on lifestyle changes.

Since beginning this approach, there have been some excellent results witnessed in the health of these patients. The patients who do the best are typically the ones who have open minds and are willing to make the necessary changes for a positive outcome. It should put your mind at ease to know there could be a better way that gives you a better quality of life!

In one case, a patient referred to Dr. Williams tried this new approach and lost 30 lbs. This man reduced his waist circumference by several inches and had less inflammation in his joints.

As Dr. Williams says, “What concerns me is that most doctors do not realize the power of food as an alternative to medication.”

I couldn’t agree more! When it comes to over-use of medication, we really need to take a second look at the potential of food.

Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs the Last Resort

Another noted expert in the U.S. says the use of food has been underestimated in the management of heart disease. Dr. J. McDougall says that a vegan diet could be the key to eliminating heart disease as a leading cause of early death. He says meat has been linked to an increased chance of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke. This is a doctor who is convinced various cultures who consume a plant-based diet exclusively (like parts of China and Africa) have very low percentages of heart disease. However, after they take on a more North American diet, they quickly develop the same risk patterns. This is a scary thought.

Dr. McDougall says the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should be used as a last resort and heart disease can be prevented by consuming a diet high in plants and vegetables, whole grains and fruit with no oils or animal protein. According to Dr. McDougall, “Statins should be reserved for very sick people and a healthy diet is for everyone.” Another fantastic point I feel we all need to listen to.

Both doctors say the cause of heart disease is elevated cholesterol caused by consuming a diet which is non-vegan. This is where I chime in. I really feel that the best way to prevent heart disease is to take a solid look at the food you are consuming and adjust it for your risk of heart disease. Both of these doctors say that eating a vegetarian diet that stays away from animal flesh is the best way. This is a lot to take in and not always an easy transition.

To learn more about the impact of diet on matters of the heart, see part two of the Food Power series this Friday.

Machold, C., “Heart disease: treatment using vegetables over drugs,” CBC News website, May 23, 2014;