It’s LOVE month--time to show and give love to yourself and others! There’s lots of good stuff packed into February, Black History Month, Heart Health Awareness Month, Valentine’s Day and more! One way to show love to yourself and take care of your heart is through a healthy diet, but based on the statistics, it looks like we could use some work here! Globally, heart disease is the leading cause of death, which accounts for about 17.3 million deaths per year! Nationally, about 787,000 people die each year from heart disease, claiming more deaths among women than all cancers combined. Heart disease strikes someone every 43 seconds, according to The American Heart Association.
What needs to be shouted from the mountain top is that heart disease is LARGELY PREVENTABLE!
One of the most effective ways to avoid and even reverse heart disease is through a plant-based diet.
A heart healthy diet is a whole foods diet, plant-based diet that’s naturally rich in fiber and low in cholesterol and saturated fat. Numerous studies show that a healthy plant-based diet significantly cuts your risks of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. The American Journal of Clinical nutrition reports that eating such a diet, which is made up of fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and whole grains are associated with significantly lower risk of coronary artery disease and stroke. It’s also the type of diet that I used to reverse my thyroid cancer.
Switching to such a diet can seem unattainable, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to transition to healthy plant-based diet and make it delicious at the same time. You can start by switching out meat or dairy products, the largest source of cholesterol and saturated fat, with healthy alternatives. A satisfying, hearty and healthy meat alternative is lentils, which are high in protein and fiber. One of my favorite lentil recipes is below, “Dr. Ruby’s Cholesterol Free Sloppy Joes”. It is amazingly delicious, full of protein and fiber and low in fat and has ZERO cholesterol or saturated fat, exactly what the heart needs to keep pumping.
Switching from dairy products to plant-based alternatives can be a breeze, with numerous plant-based milks and cheeses that can be found at any health food store and most grocery stores. A few of my favorites are almond, hemp or coconut milk and nut-based cheeses. Many of these can even be made in your own kitchen with just or blender or food processor. Check out recipes on my website www.RubyLathon.com for a few examples like my Super Veggie Max Pizza made with cashew cheese—yum!
This month, while you are planning beautiful, heart felt ways to show love to your sweetheart, start first by showing the greatest love to yourself and giving your heart what it craves, a heart healthy diet.
Frank B. Hu, Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview: 1’2’3’4, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 2003, Vol. 78 no 3 544S-551S.
Heart disease and stroke statistics— 2015 update: a report from the American Heart Association [published online ahead of print December 17, 2014]. Circulation. doi: 10.1161/CIR.000000000000015.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
By Ruby Lathon, PhD
2 cups cook brown or red lentils
1-2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 large yellow onion finely diced
1 green pepper very finely diced (best done in food processor)
1 carrot, peeled and finely shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup organic smokey BBQ sauce
2 tablespoons stone ground brown mustard
1.5 tablespoons organic tomato paste
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
4 whole grain/gluten-free buns
Heat a large skillet, add 3-4 tablespoons of water
Add green peppers, garlic and onions to heated skillet, let brown and caramelize, add more water as needed (about 5 minutes).
Add carrots and lentils and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add all other ingredients (besides bun) and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes
Add shredded lettuce on bottom of bun, spoon on the lentil sloppy joe mix and top with bun top. Enjoy!