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Take it to Heart - regain healthy Cholesterol levels ... read more ...

old message Take it to Heart - Lower Cholesterol Darrell Miller 06/09/05


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Date: June 09, 2005 06:05 PM
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Subject: Take it to Heart - Lower Cholesterol

Take it to Heart by Dawn Lemonathen Energy Times, January 2, 2002

Lifestyle is key to bettering your odds of beating heart disease. A few simple, everyday heart-friendly habits can help your heart help you. Right now, heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications like stroke have reached sky-high levels across the US.

Nearly 60 million Americans suffer from one of the various forms of cardiovascular disease and these often fatal complications cause more than 40% of all deaths in the United States. Statistics show that nearly a million Americans succumb to heart problems every year. The humongous cost: Heart disease and stroke consume almost $260 billion annually. Heart disease is the top cause of death for older Americans and remains the leading cause of death for all Americans age 35 and older. Coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as ischemic heart disease, is the most frequent cause of death for adults in the United States-accounting for more than 500,000 deaths a year. And even though most women have had their consciousness raised about their risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer, in fact, their chances of dying from one of the forms of heart disease is double their risk of succumbing to one of the forms of cancer. And ten times more women die from cardiovascular problems than die from breast cancer.

Aging Genes
Admittedly, a portion of your risk of heart problems is linked to your genetic makeup. Heart disease is often prevalent in particular families. Plus, as you grow older, your risk simultaneously grows. Nevertheless, many heart-saving lifestyle factors are under your control:

  • * Exercise: A steady program of moderately strenuous aerobic exercise can significantly improve the health of your cardiovascular system. (Consult your health practitioner if you haven't exercised in a long time.) Experts figure that exercise alone, independent of other risk factors, cuts your risk of heart attack and stroke by at least half.
  • * Food that you eat: The heart-healthiest diets consistently stay away from fatty meats. To protect your heart, eat plenty of fish that isn't fried plus plenty of fruits and vegetables and antioxidant nutrients (also see the story starting on page 29). Despite the importance of this dietary advice, only one of five Americans is currently devouring the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • * Blood pressure: Have your pressure checked periodically and ask your health practitioner about bringing it under control (see page 34). Despite the importance of this advice, only about half of all Americans with high blood pressure are having it treated.
  • * Cholesterol: Have your cholesterol checked and consult your health practitioner about the levels of your HDLs (good cholesterol) and LDLs (bad cholesterol).
  • * Smoking: Give up this habit or never start. Smoking doubles your risk of heart attack. One of five deaths from cardiovascular disease, almost 200,000 deaths a year, are smoking-related. Despite the dangers of smoking (it also increases your chances of cancer and other health problems), on average, about 3,000 teens get hooked on tobacco every day of the year.
  • * Your weight: Keep your weight down to a reasonable level. Experts figure that every pound you gain raises your risk for cardiovascular disease. In our fast food nation, studies show that about three of five US adults are now overweight.
  • * Diabetes: If you already have diabetes, work with your health practitioner to control your blood sugar (exercise helps). Diabetes significantly raises your risk of cardiovascular problems. The sooner you start doing something to lower your heart disease risk, the better your chances of staying heart-healthy. Women should be especially vigilant. When women develop heart problems, they are often unaware of the problem and their bodies do not cope with it as well as men's do. Because women and their health practitioners are not as aware of the heart risks in women, cardiovascular problems are often not noted in women until they have advanced; by then treatment is often less effective (www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/cvd/cvdaag.htm). Consequently, they run a much larger risk of dying within the first year of their first heart attack than do men. Plus, their chances of suffering a second heart attack within six years is also greater.

    Cholesterol and Heart Health
    Controlling cholesterol (as mentioned before), the fat-like material running around your blood that can block arteries, is considered crucial for protecting your cardiovascular system. A new tool in the cholesterol battle is a natural substance known as potassium hydrogen d-glucarate, a chemical which your body makes and is found in fruits and vegetables. Studies on research animals have shown that potassium hydrogen d-glucarate can lower blood cholesterol, even lowering LDL ("bad" cholesterol) by more than a third. Noni, made from a tropical fruit, is another natural substance attracting attention as a possible helper for heart health and other chronic conditions. Traditionally, noni has been used to treat a wide variety of problems, including intestinal difficulties and arthritis. While some researchers are looking into its anticancer properties, it is reputed to help lower blood pressure and function as an adaptogen, boosting the body's ability to resist infection and deal with stress.

    Nuts and Heart Health
    Back in the early days of nutritional advice for heart health, some experts recommended against eating nuts: After all, they are high in fat and it was thought that high fat diets could compromise the function of your cardiovascular system. However, studies of people who go nuts for nuts and who eat walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, pistachios, almonds and more found these nut lovers suffer less heart disease than non-nut consumers. Part of the good news about nuts, researcher believe, derives from the mineral magnesium found in nuts (and also contained in leafy green vegetables, legumes and whole grains). A magnesium deficiency may contribute to heart problems. In addition, the fats in nuts are monounsaturated, the same kind of heart-healthy fats found in canola and olive oils. Within nuts are also found a good deal of fiber, flavonoids and other natural substances that seem to protect the heart and arteries. Consequently, research indicates that if you eat nuts every weekday you may reduce your risk of heart problems by about two-thirds (Nut Rev, 2001;59:103-111). Of course nuts aren't the only vegetarian way to stay heart healthy. Foods such as oatmeal which are rich in soluble fiber, fiber that can be dissolved in water, also may lower your cholesterol. In addition, plant compounds known as sterols can improve your cardiovascular well-being. Researchers have been looking at these natural chemicals for the last 50 years and have found that they can significantly drop cholesterol (Am J CLin Nut 1995;61:392-396).

    Vegetarianism vs Heart Disease
    A vegetarian diet, in general, conveys more health benefits than eating meat. (Though fish, which contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, also lowers the risk of circulatory disorders.) In addition, mushrooms are attracting more attention from researchers as possible sources of heart-helping compounds. In Japan, for instance, health practitioners use the maitake mushroom for treating high blood pressure and lowering cholesterol. (If you suffer from cardiovascular abnormalities, consult your health practitioner.) Maitake has already established a growing reputation for possibly fighting cancer (Cancer Prev 9/30/95;768:243-245). Adjusting to the latest advice on protecting your heart doesn't require radical changes in lifestyle. A touch of exercise, a spattering of heart-healthy nutrients: Before you know it, you can be headed down cardio road and heir to a cardiovascular system that systematically functions better than ever.



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