Heart disease is not only preventable, it’s reversible. From a macrobiotic perspective, high blood pressure (hypertension) is generally caused by over-consumption of red meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, sugar, salt, processed wheat products and other extreme foods that go against eating the way nature intended (a plant-based whole-food diet).
Over time, the typical Western diet causes the arteries to constrict and narrow, and the heart to swell, enlarge and expand. By eating the right foods and following a healthy lifestyle (balancing exercise, quality sleep and relaxation), normal blood pressure can usually resume within three to four months. Isn’t that amazing?
But there are certain foods that are particularly good, and one of these is the humble, yet power-packed bean. With varieties including black, white, red, kidney, lima, navy, adzuki and lentils (to name a few), beans should be combined with wholegrains and fresh vegetables to keep your heart healthy. Why are they so effective? Because they are packed with vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants and fibre that protect the heart.
As well as improving circulation, beans help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, while reducing the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries). For those who have been through heart surgery, it’s even more important to remove the animal foods and oils that caused the disease.
Participants of a study who consumed beans at least four times a week were 22% less likely to develop heart disease. They also had lower LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure than people who didn’t eat beans regularly.
Beans increase levels of heart-protective nitric oxide (NO) in the body because they are high in an amino acid called arginine, a precursor to NO. Produced in the lining of the blood vessels, NO increases blood flow, keeping the arteries supple and preventing fatty deposits from sticking. In turn, this helps to lower blood pressure and reduce arterial clots, both of which contribute to cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
All large populations of trim, healthy people throughout verifiable human history, for at least a million years, have obtained the bulk of their calories from plants, with beans as a staple ingredient. They have zero heart disease. Doesn’t that say it all?
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