Unless you’re a strip of bacon, cholesterol is not good for you. Diets high in cholesterol can make you prone to heart diseases that can wreck your health. Fret not, read on to know how you can use vegan diet to lower and control cholesterol.

Plant-based fat-free or low-fat food is known to control and reverse conditions of high cholesterol in the human body. And it’s not just me saying this. The author of ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’1 Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. M.D. confirms it.

What we eat is killing us, literally!
The doctor says the primary cause of heart disease is the kind of food we eat. He further states that coronary artery heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in industrialized countries, which are the largest consumers of meat, dairy products, refined foods and the like.

Plant-based nutrition provides us with a pathway to escape the coronary artery disease epidemic. Even today in the Papua Highlands, rural China, Central Africa and the Tarahumara Indians of Northern Mexico, coronary artery heart disease is virtually nonexistent. These cultures thrive on plant-based nutrition. However, when they were exposed to the traditional western diet of oils, meat, and dairy, they promptly developed western illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

According to the author, coronary artery disease is preventable and the key lies in nutrition —specifically, in maintaining cholesterol levels well below those historically recommended by health policy experts.

Heart disease and the effect of animal-based products:
The building blocks for coronary disease don’t come from a plant-based diet; rather they come from meat, cheese, milk, butter, ice cream, eggs, fried foods, oils, and margarine. Researchers have demonstrated endothelial damage (the inner lining of blood vessels) in young people within hours of eating such foods. A sedentary lifestyle, along with these high cholesterol foods, caused an increase in free radicals in the blood. It is important to lower free radicals as these atoms damage healthy cells in the body and increase levels of antioxidants in the blood to repair the arteries.2

Ways to reduce cholesterol:
– You should avoid eating anything with a mother or a face (no meat, poultry, or fish).
– You should avoid dairy products.
– You should avoid oil of any kind—not a drop (includes olive oil).
– You should avoid nuts, avocados and coconut if you have heart disease.

Vegan Tips to reduce cholesterol:
– Eat all vegetables except avocados, leafy green vegetables, root vegetables, vegetables that are red, green, purple, orange, and yellow.
– Eat all legumes—beans, peas, and lentils of all varieties.
– Eat all whole grains and products, such as bread and pasta that are made from them.
– Eat all fruits.

For overall health, it is increasingly important to make certain lifestyle changes – keep your blood pressure under control, stop smoking, reduce cholesterol, exercise, and modify your diet to exclude all animal products.

From the point of view of veganism, it is recommended to leave out products that utilize any animal components to obtain good health. In terms of diets that lower high cholesterol, it is vital to consume fiber rich foods and foods rich in antioxidants, which flush out cholesterol and improve the health of arteries, respectively. Ditch non-vegetarian food to experience a fuller life.

*Inputs from Anuradha Sawhney, ex- Chief Functionary and the head of Indian operations of PETA.


[1] Esselstyn Jr. Caldwell, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, 1 edition, USA, Penguin, 2008, 320.

[2] Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 2000.

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