A Nutritarian, Plant-Based, Heart-Healthy Way of Eating

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Brian C. Taschner, M.D., FACC
Lee Physician Group, Lee Memorial Health System Cardiology

Try to focus on G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds). These foods contain many micronutrients (phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins, and nutrients) which are absent in the SAD (Standard American Diet).

Try to make 90% or more of calorie intake come from unrefined (not processed) foods, primarily plant-based. Fruits and vegetables should account for nearly 60 to 70% of daily calories.

Raw and cooked vegetables can and should be consumed in unlimited quantities. Aim for up to 1 pound daily of each
The most nutrient dense vegetables are the various greens (collard greens, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, watercress, bok choy, arugula, romaine lettuce, and spinach). When not consumed as a salad, many of these can be chopped and added to soups, pasta, and bean dishes
Other very nutrient dense vegetables include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions
Try to eat at least 1 cup daily of beans or legumes (and/or tofu). These contain ample amounts of fiber and slowly digested (resistant) starch which acts much like fiber.

Eat 4-5 fresh fruits each day, especially lower glycemic varieties such as grapefruit, oranges, kiwis, berries, melon, and green apples. Diabetics should avoid higher glycemic fruits such as pineapple, mangoes, and bananas.

Eat more limited quantities of cooked starchy vegetables and whole grains such as squash, corn, potatoes, and rice. Try to eat brown rather than white rice and sweet rather than white potatoes. Experiment with other whole grains such as farro, barley, freekah, and quinoa (high in protein). Oatmeal is versatile and can be eaten hot or cold or incorporated into other foods (i.e. It is a good binder for homemade veggie burgers)
Eat limited quantities of nuts and seeds (no more than 1/4 cup daily). In particular, try raw almonds or walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and hemp hearts. These can be sprinkled on salads, soups, or pastas. They contain valuable omega-3 fats and cancer fighting lignans. If trying to lose weight, may consider excluding these altogether Avocados should also be consumed in limited quantities. Although they have healthy fats and fiber, they are high in calories.

Try Ezekiel bread or wraps which are made with sprouted whole grains rather than processed flour. Udi’s also makes similar products. These can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores.

Avoid animal protein (beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs), dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, creamer, ice cream), oils (use none or no more than a few teaspoons daily for cooking), and sugars/sweets/and refined grains.

Instead of milk, try soy, almond, cashew, or coconut milk. Try to buy unsweetened varieties to avoid excess calories and sugars.

Consider taking a multivitamin daily and periodically check levels of B-12, iron, and vitamin D. Consider vegan EPA and DHA (fish oil) supplements
Helpful books for reference:
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. : “Eat to Live”, “Eat for Health”, “The End of Dieting”. In addition to valuable information, all of Dr. Fuhrman’s books contain many wonderful plant-based recipes
Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. : “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease” (there is also a cookbook available for purchase)
Cookbooks focused on plant-based cooking:
Robert Martin: “Vegan Cooking for Carnivores”
“Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites”
Terry Hope Romero: “Salad Samurai”
Angela Liddon: “The Oh She Glows Cookbook”
“Thug Kitchen”
“The China Study Cookbook”

Websites focused on plant-based cooking: