LAMAR, MO.--- Medical experts are encouraging patients to take on the vegetarian diet to help lower cardiovascular disease. It's a meal plan that's getting back to natural eating. A vegetarian diet focuses more on greens and whole grains, which ultimately effects the heart.
"Start by adding healthy things like fruits and vegetables, nuts, healthy oils and then limiting added things like solid fats, salts, sugars that might increase the risk for cardiovascular disease," said Jessica Houdyshell, BCMH Registered Dietitian.
Jessica Houdyshell is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Barton County Memorial Hospital. She says the vegetarian way helps eliminate saturated fats and transfats, which are found in most meat products.
"Just increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. They increase cholesterol the bad cholesterol and they can lower the good cholesterol," said Houdyshell.
However, dietitians say, when done incorrectly, the vegetarian diet could be just as bad even though you're not eating meat.
"You're eating a lot of high fat dairy products, cheeses, potato chips, things that are okay, they're not meat but they're high in calories, they're not healthy. So you could be eating way over your calorie needs by still choosing unhealthy foods," said Houdyshell.
For that reason, Heart Expert Chad Moore tells us he doesn't use the word "diet" with his patients.
"People tend to think it's something that they start and then they're going to stop, where as if you have heart disease, it can't be something that you stop, you need to continue that lifestyle," said Chad Moore, BCMH Director of Cardiopulmonary Disease.
Staying active is just as important as a eating healthy.
"Exercise will also help to get rid of calories and fat that you maybe getting from other sources, even on a vegetarian diet," said Moore.
Moore adds patients with or on the tract to heart disease who change their eating habits can reward themselves with something they've been craving.
"You know, rewarding yourself with something that you've been craving gets rid of that craving, but also makes you feel better about what you're doing," said Moore.
Whatever meal plan a patient decides to use to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease should always be discussed with their doctor.