Did you know that cutting back on meat can help heart health? Studies have shown
that eating lots of red and processed meats (like ground beef, steak, hot dogs and cold cuts) increases your risk of heart disease. That’s because saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet can raise your body’s bad cholesterol levels
, which can increase your risk.
Thankfully, even a moderate reduction
in consumption can make a difference. Women especially
can significantly reduce their risk for heart disease by swapping some red and processed meat with leaner protein sources
like nuts and beans. That’s where Meatless Monday comes in: by going meatless one day a week you’re reducing your saturated fat intake by about 15%, which can help you maintain healthier cholesterol levels.
It’s important for us to take action for a healthier heart. Cardiovascular disease -which includes heart disease and stroke- is the leading cause of death
in the United States, claiming 2,200 lives every day.
In honor of national heart month
, we asked Angelo A Alonzo, PHD, Research Scientist, Director of the Yale Heart Study
, Yale School of Nursing about the connection between diet and heart disease and what readers can do to reduce their risk.
What are you working on at the Yale Heart Study?
Angelo A Alonzo, PHD, Research Scientist, Director of the Yale Heart Study, Yale School of Nursing
Angelo A Alonzo, PHD: Most of the medical care that can save someone who is having a heart attack needs to be administered within the first hour. Our goal is to find out how people prioritize their cardiac symptoms and why they might hesitate to get care. We are recruiting participants online to come fill out our survey.
What is the connection between diet and heart disease?
Given that, do you think Meatless Monday is an effective strategy for heart health?
AA: Sure, I think any time that one can reduce the amount of protein they eat from saturated sources, that would be a benefit. Starting the week off with healthier choices makes sense too. I can see how a Monday start can lead to more conscious eating on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Aside from Meatless Monday, what are some other actions that people can take to improve their heart health?
AA: The number one thing people can do is stop smoking. Exercise is also strongly encouraged: those with active occupations -like mailmen and waitresses- their cardiovascular health is a little better because they’re up and moving more often. We should exercise 5 days a week, for a total of 150 minutes each week. Of course, stress reduction and moving towards a healthier diet are important as well.