Heart Healthy Diets: The Vegetarian Way
Heart Healthy Diets
Heart healthy diets are low in saturated fat, low in cholesterol, low
to moderate in fat, and high in fiber. A vegetarian diet can easily meet
these guidelines. Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry.
* Here are guidlelines for heart-healthy cooking:
Sauté in water instead of oil or use small amounts of olive or canola
Use low-fat cooking methods like:
stir-frying with little or no oil.
When baking, cut the oil, butter, or margarine in half and replace it with
water, juice, applesauce, or puréed prunes.
Replace whole eggs with bananas, tofu, applesauce, or egg replacers (such
as Ener-G Egg Replacer).
* Here are guidelines for heart-healthy shopping:
Buy more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and, if desired, fat-free
Buy snacks like popcorn (air pop and serve plain or with a drizzle of olive
oil or melted margarine), fresh fruits and vegetables, rice cakes, and
pretzels instead of chips, crackers, and cookies that are high in hydrogenated
Buy whole grain breads and cereals that are high fiber. Limit low fiber
refined breads and cereals and high fat products like most croissants,
muffins, and granola cereal.
Buy fat-free or low-fat milk instead of reduced fat (2%) or whole milk,
if you use milk.
Buy plain fresh or frozen vegetables instead of vegetables in cheese, cream,
or butter sauces.
Use nutrition labels to help choose foods lower in saturated fat, cholesterol,
Heart Healthy Eating Out
* Here are guidelines for heart-healthy eating out:
Choose foods like pizza without cheese, stir-fried dinners (request that
they be made with little oil), steamed vegetables, pasta and tomato sauce,
plain baked potatoes, vegetable-based soups, low-fat cottage cheese, and
fruit or sorbet for dessert. At salad bars, choose lots of fresh vegetables
and fruits; avoid mayonnaise-based salads such as most potato salads and
coleslaw, salad dressings unless low-fat, cheese, and regular creamed cottage
Ask that dressings and sauces be served on the side so you can control
the amount you eat.
Talk to the chef and explain that you want foods prepared with little fat.
Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats
Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are the kinds of fats most
likely to cause heart disease. Saturated fats are found mainly in animal
products (eggs, butter, cheese, whole milk, and whole milk products), and
in coconut, palm, and palm kernel oil. Trans fatty acids appear
in foods containing hydrogenated fats like margarine and crackers.
To reduce the risk of heart disease, replace saturated fats with unsaturated
fats like canola oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, nuts, avocado, soy products,
and nut butters. Choose margarine, cookies, crackers, and snack foods that
do not contain hydro-genated fats (read the label).
Is Cholesterol Found in Foods Vegetarians Eat?
Cholesterol is found in foods from animals. Eggs and dairy products do
have cholesterol. Grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and vegetable
oils do not have cholesterol or only contain insignificant amounts. We
do not need any cholesterol in our diets since our bodies can make all
the cholesterol we need. High blood cholesterol levels are associated with
diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Fiber is found only in plant foods. A vege-tarian diet featuring fruits,
vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and dried beans will be high
in fiber. Oats, carrots, fruits, and beans are especially high in one kind
of fiber that helps to lower blood cholesterol.
Saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber — Does this sound like too
much to think about? Try to make food choices that emphasize whole grains,
dried beans, vegetables, and fruit. If you do this and follow a vegetarian
diet, you'll find that, without much effort, your diet will be low in saturated
fat and cholesterol and high in fiber.
How Much Fat Should We Eat?
Experts do not agree about the ideal level of dietary fat and, in fact,
there may not be just one ideal level. A reasonable goal for most people
would be to have saturated fat pro-viding no more than 8-10% of calories
and a total fat intake between 15 and 30% of total calories. Fat intakes
at the higher end of this range, when the fat is monounsaturated fat (nuts,
seeds, olive oil, canola oil, avocado), may be a better choice than restriction
of all types of dietary fat. Fat should not be limited in children less
than 2 years. After 2 years, children should gradually limit dietary fat
so that by around age 5, between 20 and 30 per-cent of calories come from
fat. This type of diet should be used throughout childhood and adolescence.
In practical terms, what does 30% or less of calories from fat mean?
|If you usually eat this many calories:
||Your fat intake should be no more than:
||Your saturated fat intake should be no more than:(gms)
The following table shows the amount of fat in many foods vegetarians
eat. To find out how much fat is in other foods you buy, you will need
to read labels.
Keep a record of how much fat you eat for a week or two. Do you need
to change your eating habits?
FAT IN SELECTED VEGETARIAN FOODS
||Saturated fat (gm)
|Butter, 1 pat
|Margarine, soft, 1 pat
|Salad dressing, creamy, 2 Tbsp
|Vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp
|Nuts and Seeds, 1 oz
|Peanut butter, 1 Tbsp
|Cooked beans, 1 cup
|Egg, 1 large
|Fat-free milk, 1 cup
|Soy milk, 1 cup
|Whole milk, 1 cup
|Cheese, 3 ounces
|Fruit, 1 medium
|Grains, cooked, 1 cup
|Vegetables, 1 cup
|Bread, 1 slice
|Potato Chips, 1 oz
|French fries, 10
|Olive, 1 large
CHOLESTEROL IN VEGETARIAN FOODS
|Butter, 1 pat
|Egg, 1 large
|Nonfat milk, 1 cup
|Whole milk, 1 cup
|Cheese, 3 oz
|Soy milk, fruit, vegetables, grains dried beans, nuts
What About Soy?
Soy foods like tofu, tempeh, meat analogs, soy milk, and other products
appear to help reduce the risk of heart disease. This may be because of
plant estrogens, called isoflavones, found in soy products or may be due
to the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy protein. In any case, in-cluding
a serving or two of soy products daily can enhance a heart healthy vegetarian
Vitamin B12 and Heart Disease
Adequacy of vitamin B12 appears to be important in reducing heart disease
risk. Vegetarians with low blood vitamin B12 levels appear to have higher
levels of a substance called homocysteine, associated with in-creased risk
of heart disease. To insure adequate intakes of vitamin B12, vegetarians
who eat little or no animal-derived products should use a reliable source
of vitamin B12 like fortified soymilk, Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional
yeast, fortified breakfast cereal, or a vitamin B12 supplement daily.
Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and flavonoids also appear to be important
in the prevention of heart disease. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits
and juices, cantaloupe, broccoli, and tomatoes. Vegetable oils, dark green
vegetables, nuts, avocados, and whole grains provide generous amounts of
vitamin E. Good sources of beta-carotene include orange and dark yellow
vegetables like carrots, winter squash, and pumpkin. Flavonoids are found
in fruits, vegetables, grape juice, and tea. Nuts appear to reduce risk
of heart disease.
NOTE - Disclaimer:
Some of the views found on the Vegetarian Resource Group's site may
differ from the values of Krishna consciousness and Vedik culture in general
as it comes out of modern day America and is based more to fall in line
with changing social, political and environmental ideals experienced in
While we appreciate their efforts in advancing vegetarianism but warn
readers that for a view based on thousands of years of successful vegetarianism
stick with our Krishna conscious site