Healthy heart tip: Veganuary
Going vegan is a hot topic and numbers are on the rise. Reasons to ditch animal products like meat, cheese, eggs, milk and honey usually root in concerns about the world around us, but the vegan diet has also been linked with lower rates of heart disease. We’re increasingly finding that those who cut animal foods out of their diets tend to benefit from more fruit, veg and fibre and less saturated fat.
Whatever your beliefs and preferences, eating well for a healthy heart means getting the right amount and variety of good wholesome foods on your plate. Think colour and crunch! Get the right balance and keep things interesting by trying out some of our Vegan inspired Healthy Heart Tips:
- Keep your arteries well oiled
Rapeseed oil, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and soya foods like tofu contain an important type of omega-3 fat which helps to protect your heart and arteries. For a traditional pasta or chilli dish, replace mince with lentils, beans or chickpeas and add some crushed walnuts. Give our vegan slow cooker chilli recipe a try for a family meal, frozen ‘fakeaway’ or work lunch– it’s delicious, convenient and could help send your cholesterol levels in the right direction.
- Top up
Vitamin D helps build stronger bones and may also protect you against heart disease. It’s found in sunlight and everyday meat products so if you’re not careful you could miss out. This time of year everyone in the UK should get out in the sunlight when possible, but you should also consider taking a supplement. Check food labels for the word ‘fortified’- most vegan spreads, breakfast cereals and soya products have vitamin D, calcium and B12 added to them- every vegan needs these to stay healthy.
- Stay strong
If you’re a regular gym user there’s no need to worry about missing out on protein, just practice combining the right foods in the right way. Plant-based foods eaten in combination can deliver all the essential amino acids – the building blocks your body needs to build and repair. Try vegetable and chickpea couscous, hummus with pitta bread, rice and peas, quinoa-stuffed peppers, tofu stir-fry with nuts or even beans on wholemeal toast.
- Don’t compromise on taste
It might be tempting to cheat and go for ready-made foods with a vegan label on. These can be high in salt and low in goodness and you’ll never know how easy and enjoyable it can be to cook your own. To get started check out the Happy Healthy Heart Cookbook, created in partnership with Damart. There are some delicious vegan options in there and if you spot an ingredient from an animal source, there’s usually something tasty and nutritious you can swap it for.