Sunday July 31, 2022

It’s time to get serious about eating better

It’s time to get serious about eating better

Illustrative image.

Fewer than 7% of Americans are in excellent cardiometabolic health, which is measured by evaluating a person’s weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol levels and signs of heart disease.

Tufts University researchers came to this sobering conclusion after assessing 55,000 people older than 20 between 1999 and 2018. The study’s lead author, Meghan O’Hearn, says it’s “deeply problematic” that fewer than 1 in 15 adults in one of the wealthiest nations in the world is in optimal cardiometabolic health. Not surprisingly, factors such as economic instability and systemic discrimination are linked to a higher risk of health problems.

A similar study, involving American Heart Association (AHA) metrics — eating habits, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass and blood composition — shows that only 1 in 5 Americans have healthy hearts.

This is terrible news, but there is a solution. Eating wholesome vegan foods instead of animal-derived ones can improve one’s overall health, including most, if not all, of the conditions evaluated by Tufts and the AHA.

Fruit, vegetables, grain, legumes and other vegan foods are cholesterol-free and high in fiber and other important nutrients. They’re also generally low in saturated fat, which is linked to viscous (thick) blood and high blood pressure. If you eat animal fat, you may have thicker blood, so your heart has to push harder just to keep the blood flowing.

When scientists with the University of Warwick in the UK compared seven different eating plans, they found that eating primarily vegan foods is the best way to lower blood pressure, which is thought to be the No. 1 factor in strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events. The researchers concluded that sticking with vegan foods could prevent nearly 5 million premature deaths a year.

According to vegan cardiologist Dr. Joel K. Kahn, author of “Dead Execs Don’t Get Bonuses,” between 80% and 90% of chronic health problems, including heart disease, can be prevented by exercising, refraining from smoking, getting enough sleep, managing stress and — most importantly — eating exclusively nutritious vegan foods.

But choosing vegan foods over animal-based ones will not just improve your health — it will likely help you save money, too. Vegan foods tend to cost less, especially when you factor in the money you’ll save on hospital bills, medications and other health care costs by avoiding artery-clogging animal-based foods.

Not only that, but eating vegan foods instead of meat, eggs and dairy can help combat the climate catastrophe, conserve much-needed resources and, best of all, save lots of animals. It’s a win-win situation!

PETA is working to make wholesome, affordable, versatile vegan foods available everywhere, including in food deserts. You can make a difference in your community by purchasing and enjoying healthy vegan foods and encouraging your family and friends to do the same.

Tribune News Service

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