The question of exactly what is in a plant based diet was sent to me by a reader. She had read the heart health pages under the cardiovascular system information button in the left margin and had read the references about plant based nutrition. But she wanted some specifics.
So we'll give you the specifics in the " Fix It" food list directly from Dr Chauncey Crandall's excellent book. I'll include some comments from his book as well. His list will offer food suggestions to help lower small density cholesterol levels. Even more importantly, inflammation levels could be greatly reduced. This plant based diet will certainly also help you lose weight and help stabilize your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Dr. Crandall's list includes broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, just about any leafy green vegetable and even Swiss chard. He approves of tomato sauce and paste provided no sugar or oil is included in the ingredients. With tomatoes and mushrooms allowed, I can make just about anything taste great. Especially when we get to include some of the spices that will be listed in a following paragraph.
My personal favorites, blueberries are featured in this section. We also get apples, bananas, watermelon, pears and cranberries. Dr. Crandall suggests that dried fruits such as raisins, dates or mango will be good as long as they are not processed with sugar. Because of their high antioxidant levels, berries are his first choice, but nearly all organic fruits are great for this plant based diet. To mix it up a little, include some frozen mango or blueberries right out of the freezer. Any form of blueberry rates high on my list.
Peas and beans of all types including black eyed peas, lima beans, chick peas, navy beans and kidney beans are excellent sources of plant based protein. They are included in the super food list. There are countless ways to add these choices to your daily menu.
All of us who've grown up in the USA are pretty much accustomed to beef, chicken or fish as far as sources of protein. But plant based protein is available through other options. We've already covered the legumes in the last section. Dr. Crandall advises his patients that are on a total plant based diet to add omega 3 from eggs.
Fats and Oils:
We want to cut down on unhealthy fats in our blood. But there healthy fats that fit into heart healthy diets. Avocados are a good example. Walnuts and almonds along with flax seed are more great choices. Olive oil and coconut oil are on this approved list in place of very dangerous hydrogenated oil or trans fat.
Herbs and Spices:
In place of the salt shaker, consider green chilies, garlic, natural vanilla, chili flakes and pepper. They are a better choice for a heart healthy diet.
As I've mentioned on other pages, in our house almonds have totally replaced sour cream and onion potato chips. Walnuts are on the "Fix It", list too. I used to eat a lot of potato chips. I mean a lot. Books do empower. Now I know better. And so do you.
Organic honey or pure maple syrup fit into this category.. Here in Michigan, both choices are easy to get and they are just fantastic on so many things.
Americans have some of the highest numbers in terms of heart disease. It is the number one killer of both men and women. But we can change that pattern. Even if you just take part of this list it will help you.
Choose real, whole foods in place of processed versions. Stay away from margarine. Regardless of the hype, real butter is safer than margarine. Moderation is still in play here so no deep fried butter sticks. In fact no deep fried anything!
In many heart attack recovery situations, Dr. Crandall insists on a totally plant based diet for a time as the patient heals. If we can include this as part of our diet, we stand a great chance of never being forced to use it.
I like the Mediterranean diet, but for some people reading this, an entirely plant based diet may be the best option. Those people will have plenty to choose from and and it will all be better than anything processed or deep fried.