In honor of National Heart Disease Month, I would like to share with you the inspiration for my vegan lifestyle.
When I was 10 years old my father died from a massive heart attack. He was only 51 years old and he had been diagnosed with heart disease 3 years prior. During that time, my family had been advised to start eating a more heart healthy diet in support of my father’s diagnosis. As a result, my mother aligned our diet with the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommendations for a heart-friendly diet.
As I began to understand the risk factors for heart disease, I started making personal lifestyle changes. I became more active physically and started to evaluate my diet/nutrition. By the time I graduated from high school I had made the decision to become a vegetarian. However, my transition to a plant-based diet was gradual.
When I entered college (1989), I stopped eating red meats and pork. Then, I gradually eliminated poultry, seafood, and finally dairy. In 2007, I became 100% vegan and I haven’t looked back since.
So, if you have a family history of heart disease (or personal risk factors) and want to start a heart-friendly diet, please consider the following dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association:
Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily — at least five servings.
Choose a variety of whole grain foods daily.
Choose healthy fats in moderation and limit your intake of saturated fat and transfat.
Use less salt and choose prepared foods with less salt.
Choose beverages and foods to moderate your intake of sugar.
If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation.
Do not consume more calories than are required to maintain your best body weight.
Remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” ~ Benjamin Franklin