Plant-based junk foods could be risky for your heart

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    Are you vegetarian or vegan because you believe in the health benefits and sustainable living that plant-based foods offer? Plant-based diets have become popular due to increased awareness of their health benefits and environmental advantages. This trend is driven by concerns about personal well-being and sustainability in food production.

    However, recent studies indicate that not all plant-based foods promote cardiovascular health equally.

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    A plant-based diet focuses on foods primarily derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. It typically excludes or minimises animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. This dietary approach is rich in fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which are beneficial for your health.

    However, a recent study published in The Lancet Regional Health, Europe, has raised concerns about plant-based ultra-processed foods (UPF). It reveals that these foods, which include sugary beverages and plant-based meat substitutes, are highly processed and contain additives like fats and sugars. This processing not only diminishes their nutritional value but also increases their association with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and mortality risks.

    Here are 7 plant based foods you should avoid for heart health:

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    Sugary beverages: These include sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened teas, which are loaded with refined sugars or artificial sweeteners that can spike blood sugar levels and contribute to obesity and heart disease.

    Plant-based meat: While marketed as healthier alternatives to meat, many plant-based meat substitutes are heavily processed and contain high levels of sodium, saturated fats, and additives. Hence these should be avoided.

    Packaged vegan desserts: Products like vegan cookies, cakes, and pastries may lack animal products but are often rich in refined sugars, trans fats, and empty calories that can raise cholesterol and blood pressure.

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    Plant-based ice-cream: These treats often contain high levels of sugars and fats, and contribute to weight gain. They also increase the risk of insulin resistance and heart disease.

    Processed vegan cheese: Similar to their dairy counterparts, processed vegan cheeses can be high in saturated fats and sodium, which are detrimental to heart health when consumed in excess.

    Sweetened plant-based yoghurt: Flavoured yoghurts, especially those marketed as plant-based, often contain added sugars and artificial flavours that undermine the health benefits of yogurt’s natural probiotics. Steer clear of these yogurts for a healthy heart.

    Vegan convenience food: Items like frozen pizzas, microwavable meals, and instant noodles that are plant-based may be convenient but are typically high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and additives that contribute to cardiovascular risks.

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