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19 Simple Ways to Lower Heart Disease Risk

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Eat the Right Foods
“Beyond a doubt, of all the foods out there, fruits and vegetables [which are high in fiber, antioxidants, and compounds that block absorption of bad LDL cholesterol] have the most evidence of being heart protective,” says Ryan Bradley, ND, assistant professor at the Bastyr University School of Naturopathic Medicine in Kenmore, Washington. Pile your plate with produce, and work these nutrients and foods into your diet to shield and nourish your heart.

1. Fiber
Not only do high-fiber foods, such as beans, legumes, nuts, and whole grains, help keep off excess pounds by making you feel full, but fiber also binds to excess cholesterol in the digestive tract, helping to usher it out of the body via elimination, Moyad says. More importantly, a 2004 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people who ate 10 to 25 grams of soluble fiber daily had low blood levels of C-reactive protein, an indicator of how much inflammation is in the body. Inflammation is a top risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease because it triggers the production of immune cells, which can create plaque that blocks arteries and reduces blood flow to the heart.

Beans and legumes also contain glutamic acid, an amino acid linked to lower blood pressure by a recent study. Aim to eat one to two 1/2-cup servings of a variety of fiber-rich foods each day. Lentils, walnuts, navy beans, oatmeal, almonds, barley, brown rice, quinoa, and air-popped popcorn are excellent choices, Moyad says.

2. Cold-water fish
In addition to being anti-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids–the polyunsaturated fats found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds–protect against dangerous variations in heart rate and reduce the blood’s clotting ability, making potentially life-threatening blockages in the arteries less likely.

The most potent omega-3 forms, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found only in algae and fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon, halibut, Pacific cod, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. The American Heart Association recommends eating 6 ounces of omega-3-rich fish twice a week. (For the Environmental Defense Fund’s list of mercury-free and sustainably harvested fish, visit edf.org.) If cardiovascular disease runs in your family, you’re diabetic, or you struggle with high cholesterol or blood pressure, consider supplementing with 1 gram additional omega-3 from fish or algae sources. Stephen Sinatra, MD, author of Reverse Heart Disease Now (Wiley, 2007), says DHA tends to be more anti-inflammatory than EPA.

3. Polyphenols
Potent antioxidants found in intensely colored plant-based foods, polyphenols help stave off atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, by preventing LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and building up. Studies also suggest that polyphenols protect blood-vessel cells, improving blood flow. Foods saturated with polyphenols tend to be high in flavor–think pomegranates, red wine, grape juice, dark chocolate, green tea, cinnamon, turmeric, and ginger. Aim to eat one or two of these foods every day. And add a tablespoon of polyphenol-packed spices that come from bark (cinnamon), seeds (anise or coriander), or roots (turmeric and ginger) to your meals a couple times a week.

4. Seeds
More grocery-store basics, such as chips, spreads, and cereals, are incorporating fiber and omega-3-rich seeds like chia into their ingredient lists–and for good reason. A 2007 study found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed 2.6 tablespoons of fiber plus chia seeds each day experienced significantly reduced blood pressure and C-reactive-protein levels. Stir up to 2 tablespoons of these tiny, mild-tasting seeds, eaten for centuries in Mexico, into yogurt or oatmeal, or sprinkle them on salads. Flaxseeds are nuttier and coarser than chia, but they offer the same heart benefits. Because the body can’t digest flaxseeds whole, grind them in a coffee grinder before eating, or buy flaxseed meal. Hempseeds are another good option.

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Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Fitness, General Health, Health, Heart & Vascular Disease

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Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

56 comments

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6:45AM PDT on Jul 10, 2013

Great information. Thanks for sharing!

1:46AM PDT on Aug 8, 2011

Great article. Thanks.

2:09AM PST on Feb 26, 2011

Thank you.

9:20PM PDT on Apr 13, 2010

:D

11:05AM PDT on Apr 8, 2010

Don't smoke and don't want to be a second hand/chain smoker I will eat less/the least fat and carbs as possible. Need/want/will live the longest. Will destrress more and more, be more positive. Exercise more. Relax. That helps longevity.

9:58AM PDT on Mar 30, 2010

I agree with Sheila - the person before me wrote.
I have suffered 2 heart attacks & now have 3 stents
in me. I will be taking medication for the rest of my life.
I believe now that stress & not watching what I ate played a major role in what happened to me. When you have stress
going on in your life it is very hard.
happened to me

5:44PM PDT on Mar 29, 2010

Very Important Information. Thank you.

7:33AM PDT on Mar 29, 2010

Thank you!

11:45PM PDT on Mar 28, 2010


bariatric surgery memphis

It helps break down homocysteine into harmless aminoacid.
High levels of homocysteine in your blood can damage the lining of your arteries. It can also easily make your blood clot, which increases your risk of blood vessel blockage.


1:29PM PDT on Mar 27, 2010

Thank you!

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