Risk of Heart Disease in Women Could Lower on Plant-Based Diet

Due to a rapidly advancing world, fast-paced lifestyle changes make it difficult for us to care for our health. We often neglect, or worse, truly abandon ourselves in favor of staying ahead of the system.

However, adopting healthier habits is never a bad idea. Indeed, there is no better time than right now to start incorporating a little natural goodness into this hectic lifestyle. You can start with regular morning walks and more plant-centered diets, for example.

Heart disease in women has gained a reputation for being quite a neglected topic in medical circles. With the risk of it increasing in toe with the current lifestyle crisis, it must be explored more vigilantly. 

Let’s see how a more plant-based diet can help tackle this risk to some degree.

What Causes Heart Disease in Women?

Older woman that has a smile on her face.

Knowing what leads to heart disease in women can help us understand how we can lower its risk with dietary changes. Here are a few of these causes summed up.

Poor Lifestyle

Busy days and hectic routines can lead to the development of certain harmful habits. Collectively, they prove to be a hallmark of deteriorating quality of life. 

  • A buildup of stress and anxiety
  • Depressive spirals
  • Excessive smoking
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Disrupted diet and meal timings

Poor Mental Health

Stress is a major contributing factor to high blood pressure and heart disease. People often experience heart attacks during highly stressful and anxiety-inducing situations.

Certain Medical Conditions

Stroke is a major complication of advanced diabetes. Moreover, heart attacks experienced by diabetic individuals are often of the silent type. This is due to nerve damage that does not allow one to feel pain.

In addition to this, some inflammatory disorder or a history of heart disease in the family puts one at risk for heart disease.

Pregnancy

Women run the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. This can be lethal for both the mother and the baby. Similarly, diabetes (gestational diabetes) is also a huge red flag in this case.

Menopause

After menopause, vascular diseases can develop due to low estrogen levels. This can set the stage for severe heart disease in women later on.

How Does Plant-Based Food Help?

Prevention is always better than cure. Good eating habits cannot be a quick heart disease treatment, but they sure help prevent it.

One of the major ways that a plant-based diet lowers the risk of heart disease in women is by lowering the percentage of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Moreover, it raises the level of unsaturated fats in our body as compared to saturated fats. These actions lead to a decreased risk of stroke and other heart problems.

This effect of lowering “bad” cholesterol also helps curb the fast-paced progression of diabetes. It indirectly helps diabetic individuals from developing severe heart conditions. 

In addition to this, a plant-based diet is healthy and highly nutritious. It provides the body with the right vitamins and minerals when it is in any sort of compromised state. In case of disease, it will provide nutrients necessary for sustaining one’s body.

Last but not the least, it is no secret that a good routine and a healthy diet have a healing effect on our troubled mental health. The link between food and mental health is an important one. Plant-based healthy, nutritious, and fulfilling food affects both mental and physical levels.

Some Important Research

A study published in the Journal of American Heart Association stated that a plant-based diet at an early age considerably lowered the risk of a heart attack at later ages. 

Parallel research with a follow-up period of fifteen years noticed a similar preventative effect of a plant-based diet on the heart health of postmenopausal women.

The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study carried out by Yuni Choi further explored the effects of plant-based diets on diabetes and heart health. Individuals who consumed beneficial foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts) showed reduced risk. 

The Portfolio Diet

A portfolio diet is a plant-based diet aimed at lowering “bad” cholesterol in the blood. The portfolio of foods recommended in the diet specifically works on lowering these cholesterol levels. 

The following food groups are essentially included in the portfolio diet.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Whole grain

Although such a diet is generally also recommended by the American Heart Association, you might benefit from a dietician’s take on it.

Heart Disease Treatment and Manifestation in Women

There are no drastic differences in heart disease treatment for men or women. Once developed, the disease is treated by medication or surgery for both genders. 

Woman socializing together.

Although variations are present, they do not alter the methodology of defining patient treatment and care. For example, women show a higher success rate in coronary bypass surgeries as compared to men.

The treatment may show little difference, but the manifestation of a heart attack is completely different in men and women. It is only in the recent few decades that we have gained more insight into heart attacks in women. Before that, the male model was followed and many female complaints were dismissed as mere whims.

Whereas the chest pain from a heart attack is crushing and severe for males, it usually only manifests as a slight pressure for females. In highly emotionally charged mindsets, women may even experience a heart attack while resting. Because the signs are not properly recognized, it is often passed off as a milder pain.

This often means that by the time it is brought to medical attention, the damage is done. It can also explain very well why statistics for reported heart attacks are so low in women.

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The Bottomline

There is a gender gap in the timing of heart attacks. For men, the risk appears relatively earlier. However, the consequences are more lethal for females.

Therefore, it is very important to discuss heart disease in women, and simultaneously educate yourself on how to best prevent it. Improving diet and the quality of your active time are the first steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

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