Plant-based food may reduce risk of heart diseases, diabetes, experts warn
Experts have warned that consuming plant-based food can reduce the chances of coming down with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
They noted that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables by people with a history of cardiovascular diseases eliminates any form of threat to their health, noting that the combination does not allow for the accumulation of fat in the body.
According to the specialists, who spoke exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise in different interviews, fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help to eliminate free radicals.
According to WebMD, an online medical portal, antioxidants are substances that seem to reduce oxidative stress, which is thought to lead to ageing and certain diseases such as cancer.
Speaking on the benefits of fruits and vegetables, a Consultant Cardiologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr Akinsanya Olusegun-Joseph said increasing their intake is pivotal for a healthy cardiovascular heart.
He noted that antioxidants are beneficial to heart health by reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and cancers.
“They also reduce the ageing process and improve the health of other organs like the brain and the kidneys,” he added.
Olusegun-Joseph insisted that shifting dietary patterns towards plant-based foods has emerged as a key strategy to deal with heart-related issues, and also lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
According to him, the replacement of animal-based foods with plant-based alternatives presents a viable solution to cardiovascular diseases.
“Epidemiological studies have shown that such replacements can decrease the risk of cardiovascular, T2D, and their mortality,” the cardiologist added.
Speaking further, a Director of Nutrition Services and Health Education at Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board, James Oloyede said most plant-based food contains micronutrients and antioxidants that are necessary for the regulation of heartbeat and other chemical products in the body.
He said, “Some of these antioxidants are called anti-cancer and anti-ageing. So, these foods are good for your cardiovascular health. They have low fat that is necessary for good functioning of the heart.
“Fruits like cabbage, cucumber, carrot, tomatoes, mangoes, watermelon, pawpaw, apple, red bell pepper and all the yellow fruits and vegetables are also helpful and important to cardiovascular health.
“Dark green leafy vegetables are also good, including fruits and vegetables of cabbage origin. Most of them contain calcium and they are good in the regulation of heartbeats and others associated with it.
“Foods high in sodium will not be good for high blood pressure and the rest like that. The rule of the game is to eat food from various varieties. To get enough micronutrients that a person needs, five out of 10 groups of food have to be consumed.”
On healthy eating, he said, “We advise people to limit their sugar intake, carbonated drinks, and consumption of processed food due to the high concentration of sodium in them. Also, canned foods are not meant to be taken that much as some of them are carcinogenic.
“We advise that we consume less fatty food, especially those high in saturated fat because of heart-related problems and tendencies of being overweight and obesity.
“We must maintain a healthy lifestyle like exercising and avoid tobacco consumption. Adults should reduce protein intake though we don’t eat enough protein in Africa. When these are eaten in excess it becomes a problem.
“You know that protein contains two groups, the amino and carbon. The amino group is deaminated and this puts pressure on the kidney.
“Of course, exercise is good. Without exercise, the food doesn’t burn out and you become obese due to accumulation. This may lead to diabetes. So, people should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables,” Oloyede advised.