The difference a healthy diet can make

Eating more unprocessed, plant-based foods is one of the best ways you can protect your heart.

What do you usually eat for breakfast? How about for lunch and dinner? These questions are standard fare during a consultation with Dr. Ron Blankstein, a preventive cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. The answers help him tailor the dietary advice he gives, which can have a profound effect on the future health of his patients' hearts.

"Most people really aren't aware of the importance of a healthy diet, or they're confused about what they should be eating," says Dr. Blankstein. About five years ago, he revamped his own diet to follow what the current evidence suggests is the best way to avoid heart disease: a whole-food, plant-based style of eating. "I find that when I tell my patients I follow this diet myself, they're far more likely to buy into it," he says. (For an idea of what he typically eats, see "A day of plant-based meals.")

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