By: Ilya Avdeyenkov
With the New Year approaching, many of us are going to make the same resolution: lose some weight! But instead of focusing on simply looking better, losing weight has many benefits aside from a smaller waist.
A healthy diet can dramatically improve your overall health. But with so many diets available, how do you know which one is best for you?
Recent studies have focused on the benefits of plant-based diets. Increasing and varying your intake of vegetables has shown to lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and even some types of cancer.
Arguably, the biggest risk of these is high blood pressure. According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure is the number one risk factor for death in the world. About 75 million American adults suffers from high blood pressure. And in 2014, high blood pressure was the leading cause of death for 410,000 Americans.
In the U.S., there is a growing misconception that hypertension, or high blood pressure, is just a part of aging. In actuality, hypertension would be extremely uncommon if we changed our diets to include more plant-based foods. In a recent case study exploring the benefits of plant-based diets as a cost effective method of treating patients with high blood pressure, physicians concluded that "Healthy eating may be best achieved with a plant-based diet, which we define as a regimen that encourages whole, plant-based foods and discourages meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods." Another study conducted by the World Health Organization found that 78 percent of adults in South Africa had high blood pressure. This can be associated with the fact that this region of the world suffers from poor diet and lifestyle choices.
So how can you apply this research to your everyday life? It would be unrealistic to push for a fully vegan diet for everyone. Instead, take your current diet and mix it up with some veggies! Leafy raw vegetables, cooked vegetables or vegetable juice will do just the trick. Adding fruit, the darker kind, will also help. But adding all this goodness without taking some things out of your diet will result in additional calories that can prevent weight loss. Cut out meats and dairy products that are high in fat. Some common culprits include red meat, mayonnaise, cheese and salad dressing. Once you have your calories balanced you should be good to go!
One clinical study showed that after 7 days of a low-fat, plant-based diet people saw a significant drop in their blood pressure.
What does the American Heart Association have to say on all this? They too recommend a diet with low meat intake. They suggest using the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a 2000 calorie diet. In order to lose weight, you would have to scale it down based on your metabolic rate.
Getting used to your new diet may be challenging at first but your heart and your waistline will thank you!
DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)