Why do vegetarians have healthier hearts?

I got a last minute phone call yesterday to come in to be interviewed by CTV News on an article about heart health that was published in the Huffington Post. Basically the article found that those who are on a vegetarian, plant based diet have less risk of heart disease. Which of course is not new information to me. However if it is to you, then keep reading! So giving my opinion and answers on such a subject was effortless. This was especially timely since our February theme of the month is all around heart health, beans and love! Stay tuned for lots of fun posts to come.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead to PVR or record the segment and nor do they have a link or live stream of the show. So basically I will recycle here for you the questions that were asked along with my answers. Hopefully this will give you more insight as to why quinoa, lentils and kidney beans can help you to live long, and live strong!

Question 1: Why are vegetarian less likely to have heart problems than meat – eaters?

Marni: The vegetarian diet is rich in fiber, lower in fat and loaded with vitamins and minerals. The fats typically consumed on a plant based diet are a lot better for the body and don’t pose the same health risks that meat does. (FYI- This includes fat from avocado, olive oil, flax and chia) The vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegggies offer the body a wide array of nutrients that you just can’t get from a meat based diet. Having a fiber rich diet, also means that you are lowering your cholesterol, improving digestion and moving things through the body and this helps to prevent buildup in the arteries and blood.

Question 2: If people reduce the amount of meat they eat would that help lower their risk of heart disease? Or do they have to cut out meat completely for it to make any difference?

Marni: As a starting point, people in general need to eat less meat overall.  We are a meat obsessed society with a burger place on every corner. So taking the first steps to lower the number of times a week meat is consumed is the first step. However ultimately the goal is to move towards a more plant based diet. If someone is in a critical condition and at risk for heart disease, then it would be a really good idea to go on a strict plant based diet, as they will have an even greater chance at reversing their condition.

Question 3: Are there certain meats that are worse for people’s hearts than others?

Marni: Yes. Processed, packaged and deli meats are the worst offenders. Then comes the fatty meats & red meats. Opting to choose more lean organic and wild proteins is a much better option for heart health.

Question 4: Are there other ways people can lower their blood pressure and cholesterol without giving up meat?

Marni: Yes, in addition to consuming less meat all around, it is important for people to focus on ADDING in green leafy vegetables, grains, beans and legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits – they are all fiber rich and give the body a healthy nutritional boost while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. In addition making exercise a regular part of your lifestyle can also dramatically make a difference.

Then she snuck in a little question about where do you get your protein without meat. So in addition to this great info I gave on CBC radio show, I mentioned the best and top sources of plant based protein:

Beans & Legumes

Nuts and Seeds

Sprouted Tofu and Tempeh


Hemp and Plant protein powders

Question 5: What are some other health benefits for vegetarians and what have I noticed being a vegetarian.

Marni: In addition to having more energy, being at an optimal weight – people can look forward to sleeping better, and having better digestion. Also a plant based diet is colourful, fun and full of texture, variety and flavour. You can get more creative with meals at home and enjoy new and exciting tastes. You also end up spending less money over time because vegetarian meals make big batches which you can have for several days.

It’s always fun sharing my knowledge to the masses. Hopefully you caught it live, at the very least you are up to date now!


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