Battling Heart Disease – Other Findings

I recently taught you how to identify healthy fats that are important for you, they have the prefix un- that makes them recognizable such as in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. You must remember that although these are important and play a key role, they are high in calories.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are not really the same. Monounsaturated fats aren’t damaged by oxidation and they are less likely to cause buildups of cholesterol in the arteries.

Polyunsaturated fats help keep blood pressure healthy and keep blood from clotting excessively. Therefore, choosing either fats over saturated fat or trans-fatty acids is a better choice.

Nuts are good sources of these healthful fats. Researchers from the Seventh Day Adventist found that those who ate nuts at least four times a week has almost half the risk of fatal heart attacks of those who rarely ate them. We should aim to get 20 to 25 percent of total calories from fat, which should be in the form of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.

Another kind of healthful fat, called omega-3 fatty acids found in most fish and also flaxseed, can help to prevent clots from forming in the blood stream. They can help to lower Triglycerides, a type of blood fat that in large amounts may raise the risk for heart disease.

Eating fish once or twice a week like salmon is a good choice, because it contains high levels of omega-3s that can help keep your arteries clear and your heart working well. 

Wonders of Folate 

About 30 years ago a Harvard pathologist suggested that a vitamin deficiency maybe the cause of heart disease and this assumption was laughed at. Now, there is evidence that suggests that folate, a B vitamin abundant in beans and dark green leafy vegetables may play a role in preventing heart attacks.

Folate helps in lowering the levels of amino acid called homocysteine. The body needs homocysteine to produce muscle and bone tissue. However, in large amounts it can do harm to blood vessels causing arteries to harden. High levels of homocysteine can be a contributor to heart disease. But it appears that homocysteine levels can be lowered easily with modest amount of folate in the diet.

You don’t need a lot of folate to get the benefits. Daily value of 400 micrograms maybe plenty.  Good sources of folate are: 1 cup spinach supplies 109 micrograms, ½ cup lentils 179 micrograms and even ¾ cup orange juice contains 34 micrograms.

The power of Antioxidants

For many years, doctors knew that LDL cholesterol was bad for our bodies’ heart and now they know the reason why. Our bodies produce harmful oxygen molecules called free radicals which damage cholesterol through a process of oxidation that causes cholesterol to stick to the artery walls.

Fruits, vegetables and other foods that contain antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamins C and E are our best protection against oxidation and heart disease. Flavonoid-rich foods particularly apples, tea, onions deliver antioxidant benefits evidence through a study in the Netherlands with men who ate these foods were half as likely to have heart disease as those who ate the least.

The National Cancer Institute recommends eating five to nine servings a day of a large variety of fruits and vegetables. Many studies show that “people who eat the most of these healthful foods have the lowest rate of heart disease.”

Fiber Good for Your Heart

Fiber is an important part of our heart protection plan. Soluble fiber is the kind found in beans, fruits and grains binds with cholesterol in the body and helps to remove it along with waste.

Fiber is so effective that a research team from Harvard found that men who added just 10 grams of fiber a day to their diets were able to decrease their risks of heart attack by almost 30 percent.

The DV for fiber is 25 grams. Super sources of these include whole grains, beans such as chickpeas, kidney beans and lima beans, and dried fruits like figs, apples, and peaches.

Drink in Moderation 

Studies show drinking moderate amounts of alcohol raises levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol.

How it works, it makes platelets the tiny disks that aid in clotting a little more slippery so they are less likely to stick together and cause heart damaging clots in the blood stream.

Red wine is particularly good because it contains heart-healthy flavonoids. To get the benefits of alcohol without any problems doctors advise drinking in moderation. For men, this means having no more than two drinks a day. Women who are more susceptible to alcohol’s effects, should limit to one drink per day. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of liquor.

Eating healthy foods is the basis for at risk disease prevention and we owe it to ourselves to nourish our body with nature’s whole foods. To your health!

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