|Image by Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via Flickr|
Can heart disease be cured by a vegetarian diet? Bill Clinton decided to switch to a vegan diet in order to stay healthy and to reverse his heart disease and he has gone public with his lifestyle choice in an effort to alert the public to the fact that heart attacks are completely preventable through a plant-based diet. There is substantial evidence to indicate that heart disease is not a fate of bad genes or age, but is largely the result of unhealthy food choices. In particular, a sustained consumption of animal protein over many years is probably the main culprit that triggers plaque in the arteries, the precursor to heart attacks and strokes. Even thin, active people who do not smoke are not immune from heart disease if they include animal protein in their diets.
It is a common misconception that one’s blood cholesterol numbers are predictive of future heart problems. In reality, that number is useless because that number does not tell you whether cholesterol is building up in the form of plaque on the arteries. Much more important is the amount and type of LDL, a component of cholesterol, that is circulating through the blood. Large particles of LDL are not particularly dangerous; however, small particles of LDL can catch and build up on the lining of the arteries, and eventually occlude the blood flow to the heart. Result: heart attack.
Diets high in animal fat, such as red meat, eggs and dairy are known to increase the ratio of the bad cholesterol (LDL) to good cholesterol (HDL). Switching to a plant-based diet, such as the Ornish diet, has proven to actually reverse plaque build-up. This is a feat that statin drugs have never been proven to accomplish.
According to the American Heart Association, in the US alone, over 50 billion dollars a year are spent on heart bypass procedures annually, and a heart attack occurs ever 30 seconds. All this in spite of the fact that heart disease is completely preventable through a plant-based diet.