Have you recently been diagnosed with angina? This heart condition can seem like the end of the world for many people. They realize they’re not as healthy as they thought and fear the need to take medication for the rest of their life. It’s also very normal to feel like your whole world needs to change.
That isn’t necessarily all true. While you will need to make some changes, it is possible to manage angina partially through your diet. A plant-based diet could be one of the best things you follow. It’s a change that doesn’t just protect your heart, but will also help to protect your waistline.
Not sure if this really is the case? Here’s a look at all the ways a plant-based diet can help angina management and why to follow one from today.
What Is Angina?
Before you can understand more about plant-based (or vegan) diets and how they benefit your health, you need to understand more about your heart condition. Angina is when you suffer discomfort or pain in the chest, usually around the heart muscle. The heart struggles to get enough oxygenated blood, putting it under excess stress and pressure.
In most patients, there’s a feeling of squeezing or pressure in the chest. This pain is sometimes confused with a heart attack depending on the severity of the pain. There are also cases of patients suffering pain in their arms, back, neck and jaw. Indigestion-like pains are also common! The heart affects the whole body since the organs and limbs all require good blood flow.
The good news is angina isn’t actually a disease. It’s a symptom of another problem. This can be a downside since you need to treat the disease, which is most commonly coronary heart disease. However, with it being a symptom, it also means you can manage the pain by itself.
Studies have shown that plant-based and vegan diets are the most successful for managing angina. This natural cure can also help to manage the disease of the heart, so you’re not just managing the symptom but also the reason for it.
How exactly does a plant-based diet help? Here’s a look at all the reasons.
Reduction in the Cholesterol Levels in the Body
Cholesterol is one of the biggest issues for your heart. There are two types of cholesterol: good and bad. You want to reduce the bad levels to as low as possible while keeping the good levels at a manageable rate. Both can be bad if they are more than the body.
Cholesterol lines the arteries. The bad stuff will cause a friction layer, while the good stuff creates a smooth layer. When the blood flows through the arteries, the cholesterol can either cause the blood to stop and clog or help it flow through easily. Of course, too much good can restrict the arteries and make it harder for the blood to flow through, despite the smooth layer.
When the blood doesn’t flow well, the oxygen can’t get to the heart and around the body. You need to keep the levels of cholesterol to a minimum as much as possible to protect your heart health.
How does a plant-based diet do this? Well, plants have no cholesterol at all. The cholesterol comes from animal products, particularly meat and eggs. When you get a vegan diet, you can naturally keep your cholesterol levels to a minimum, keeping the arteries clear and smooth.
Studies have shown that reduced cholesterol levels help to combat many heart problems. It’s not that surprising that angina management is much easier. If you can combat the reasons for angina as a symptom, you combat the symptom itself.
Reduce the Amount of Fat in Your Diet
A plant-based diet is also a low-fat diet naturally. While fat doesn’t make you fat, it can cause a number of health problems. Too many of us consume saturated fats, which clog up the arteries and body. Our organs don’t get the oxygen they need, and the heart suffers greatly from excessive fat.
The best thing you can do is reduce the amount of fat you eat. There’s still nothing wrong with a few unsaturated fats. In fact, these fats are important as part of a healthy diet. The plant-based diet will even include more healthy fats. You get them from olives, coconut milk/oil, and nuts and seeds. The plant-based diet just cuts out the unhealthy saturated fats that come from animal products.
Studies have shown that the reduction in saturated fats (and in fact all fats) is good for reducing angina symptoms. These studies involved extremely low-fat diets, which is much easier with a plant-based diet. You only need 2% of your daily calories from fats to support a healthy body and improve your heart health.
The studies have made a point of stating that cutting out all fats isn’t necessary or going to fully help. Getting healthy fats will help to further reduce the cholesterol to support the heart health. These fats came from the likes of avocados and nuts. The trick is to just keep the intake of these fats to a low level.
Management in the number of Carbohydrates in the Diet
Following a low-fat diet isn’t just the way to help manage your angina. The benefit of the plant-based diet is the reduction in simple carbs. While fruits and vegetables are packed with carbs, they’re made up of complex carbs. They have enough fiber to help avoid the issue of carbs sugaring in the blood quickly and causing a release of the insulin.
Most other low-fat diets will increase the amount of all carbs you eat. Many low-fat versions of yogurts, cheeses, and milk are packed with sugars to improve the taste. They end up causing insulin spikes, which puts the heart at risk and makes angina worse.
When you opt for complex carbs, they break down slowly. You can get these carbs from fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and more. They are all packed with vitamins and minerals to helps support the health. The focus is on the fiber that helps to break the carbs down slowly, releasing energy throughout the day and supporting the heart health.
This is why a plant-based, angina friendly diet cuts out all refined carbs, dairy, fruit juices, and anything with fructose (and other sugars). They all lead to spikes in insulin and offer minimal benefits compared to whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes/beans.
Make It Easier to Exercise
As the diet helps to manage your angina symptoms, you’ll find that it is easier to move around more. Patients with angina tend to find that they’re breathless much quicker and easier than before. Just taking 20 steps can leave them needing a seat to catch their breath. The heart is doing a lot of work and not passing the oxygen around the body and this can affect the lungs’ and muscles’ capabilities.
When you start to reduce the symptoms, you’ll find it easier to breathe. Moving around isn’t as tiring. This is a slow process, but something that you want to boost as much as possible. Your doctor will also help to ensure you are healthy while improving your exercise.
As you walk more, your blood will pump more. This can help to increase the amount of oxygen passing through the body. The heart pumps harder but is able to take in more oxygen and get it further around the body. Since the heart is a muscle, it gains in strength with the more exercise that you do. Your exercise regime will become easier, you get to do more, and you end up with this positive cycle.
Exercise has been linked to improving the heart health. You can lower the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases. By reducing the risk of these, you reduce your angina symptoms naturally. All this is possible with the plant-based diet since you reduce the cholesterol and start to improve the heart and allow it to do more!
Studies Show Vegans and Vegetarians Have Lower Heart Disease Risks
There have been many studies over the years to look into the diet and how particular foods affect our health. It’s not surprising that studies have looked at how vegan and vegetarian diets affect the heart compared to meat-eater diets. These studies have looked at all ways that the health can be affected, with most of them focusing on the heart health.
One of the biggest benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets is definitely the reduction in cholesterol. As mentioned, by reducing the cholesterol, you improve the health of your arteries. This can help to improve the blood flow, which helps to support the health of your heart.
It’s not just angina management that is supporting a vegan or vegetarian diet. Both of these diets have shown that people have a much lower risk of all types of heart diseases. By reducing heart disease, especially coronary heart disease, it’s much easier to reduce all symptoms. That means angina becomes a thing of the past.
A Change in Diet Is Better than Medication and Surgery
While a change in your lifestyle is one option for managing angina, there are some people who will opt for medication or surgery to manage their health problem. Changing your diet is healthier for you in the long term.
Let’s just consider surgery to start. There are multiple risks to having surgery, including infection and problems with the heart. Some people are allergic to anesthetic without even realizing it because they’ve never needed surgery. Plus the heart needs to be in a state to cope with the pressure of surgery and recovery. If you already have heart problems, it’s going to be harder to recover afterward.
When it comes to medication, you’ve got to consider all the synthetic products you place in the body. There’s no telling what some of these medications can do in the long term. While there have been studies, scientists are only just learning some of the side effects and risks! A natural cure is much better for your overall health than medication, and it’s not like a switch to the plant-based diet is too difficult.
Plus with medications and surgery, people are less likely to make changes in their life. You continue to put the cholesterol in the body and put your heart under more pressure. Medication may be recommended at first, but you still want to make some healthy changes. You can find not only do you manage the heart problems quickly, but you can get off the medication in the future.
What to Eat on a Plant-Based Diet
When you hear plant-based, you likely instantly jump to the idea of following a vegan diet. While this can be beneficial, it’s not wholly necessary. You can still eat some meats, although you want to stick to the healthier cuts. Some doctors refer to a Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fish rather than red and white meat. Oily fish will help you get your daily intake of healthy fats and oils, offering other health benefits.
You want to add more legumes, such as beans and peas, to your diet, and more fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds can also be beneficial, although watch out for manufactured and processed nut or seed butter! Flaxseeds, whole grains, and a few healthy fats can also be included in your plant-based diet.
It is possible to create delicious meals with the ingredients. Keep your meat and dairy intake to an absolute minimum. A small amount now and then can be consumed, but it’s best to cut them out entirely if you can to get your angina under control.
Talk to your doctor about a change in diet and how it can help your angina symptoms. You may find medications are still prescribed depending on your overall health, but your doctor will support a change to a healthier diet for your heart.