Keeping your heart healthy
But surely standard medical treatments have it covered. After all in the ‘pre-heart attack phase there are drugs to lower cholesterol, drugs to lower blood pressure and drugs to thin your blood. As disease progresses and maybe Angina sets in then there are drugs to slow your heart and reduce its workload so that less oxygen is required. Once a heart attack has occurred there are drugs for the pain, drugs to dissolve clots and drugs to reduce the risk of further attacks.
HOWEVER these drugs are expensive, have many unwanted side effects and are largely ineffective in that they treat only symptoms – they do little to prevent further deterioration.
Heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death in the UK.
A sudden heart attack is often the dramatic outcome of changes which have been accumulating for years. Pathological changes such as plaque formation in the arteries, increase in the stickiness of your blood, poor anti-oxidant status leading to free radical damage and inflammation of body tissues take place in the background, stealthily and silently until the catastrophic event occurs.
Most people are aware of traditional risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and stress, but are much less familiar with the ideas of homocysteine damage or insulin resistance.
Large amounts of refined carbohydrates in the diet (bread, biscuits, cakes, white pasta, sugary foods etc.) lead to high blood glucose levels which in turn cause excessive formation of free radicals in the linings of blood vessels which cause inflammation and damage.
Homocysteine is a by-product of the body’s metabolic processes and in high amounts causes damage to arteries which in turn leads to the build up of plaque.. At least 40% of coronary heart disease victims have high blood homocysteine levels.
Lifestyle changes can reverse coronary heart disease within a year.
Nutrition, food supplements, exercise and emotional support are all important factors.
The right foods together with nutritional supplements work to support the body’s own natural healing mechanisms. The ‘Mediterranean Diet’ is one that is often recommended for heart health. This diet is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, low in meat and dairy produce, contains fish, olive oil, wholegrains, beans , nuts and seeds.
Foods which provide increased heart protection include:
Garlic, Porridge oats, Oily fish, unsalted nuts and seeds, olive oil, onions, green tea, blueberries, strawberries, fruits and vegetables, beans and pulses, whole-grain foods.
Foods which are detrimental to heart health include:
Fried foods, white bread, white pasta, fizzy drinks, biscuits and cakes, excess alcohol, sugar, hydrogenated fats, and high salt foods such as processed meats (bacon, sausages, pepperoni).
Compare the two diet regimes below – the heart disease promoting standard american diet and the heart protective mediterranean diet.
|Standard American Diet||Mediterranean Diet|
|Corn Oil – highly refined damaged fat||Cold pressed Olive Oil – stable when heated, good source of Vitamin E|
|Red Meat / Dairy – high in saturated fat,full of chemicals and hormones||Oily fish / Seafood – contains Omega-3 oils and Vitamin D|
|Potatoes often fried – high in starch, can affect blood sugar||Pulses (lentils,chickpeas etc) – provides fibre, phytoestrogens and isoflavones|
|Iceberg Lettuce and cucumber – minimal nutritional value||Rocket, Raddichio, artichoke – support liver function, can help with digestion|
|Salt can cause high blood pressure||Herbs and garlic – anti-oxidant, anti-viral and anti-bacterial|
|Apples and Bananas – limited anti-oxidant content||Red and Yellow carotenoid rich vegetables – peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits. All rich in lycopene, vitamin c, isoflavones and carotenoids|
|Creamy white flour based sauces – high calorie, high fat, refined carbohydrates||tomato based herb sauces – low fat, lycopene rich|
|Beer or Spirits – high sugar content, no nutrients||Red wine (in moderation) – source of anti-oxidant resveratrol|
|Crisps / Potato chips – high salt and trans fats||unsalted nuts and seeds – high in zinc, vitamin e, omega-3 and fibre|
Standard American / Western Diet compared to the Mediterranean diet
Which one most closely represents your current diet? Want to change that ?