In addition to a low-fat and high-fiber intake, a low-salt and low-sugar diet is also suggested. Avoiding salted and pickled or cured foods, especially meats, is suggested for health. Excess sugar, because it increases calories, weight, and blood fats, is an indirect risk factor in CVD; it is not healthy for many other reasons. More complex carbohydrates, including mostly whole grain and vegetable foods, are definitely in our favor for CVD prevention. The starch-centered diet, along with exercise, is the basis of the Pritikin program to reduce and prevent CVD. Nathan Pritikin was one of the more vigorous proponents of this excessively low-fat diet.
Dietary Suggestions to Reduce CVD Risk
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more whole grains.
- Use low-fat snacks.
- Reduce fat intake to 25?30 percent of the diet.
- Reduce cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg. per day.
- Reduce consumption of egg yolks to three to five per week.
- Minimize use of whole milk and its products; use low-fat or nonfat milk products.
- Avoid red meats; eliminate all cured meats and lunchmeats.
- Limit the use of nuts and seeds, not more than a handful daily.
- Avoid excess intake of avocados, olives, crab, and shrimp.
- Eat more coldwater fish, such as sardines and salmon.
- Use fresh, monounsaturated, mechanically pressed oils, such as olive or flaxseed oils, to provide the essential fatty acids.
Children and Cardiovascular Disease
CVD prevention may need to start in young people, even preteens and adolescents, particularly if there is early obesity or a family history of heart disease. Weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels can be followed in these higher risk children. Diet modifications may be begun early with a lower-fat diet, primarily by reducing the animal fat and fried food consumption; this is accomplished by minimizing the intake of such foods as burgers, hot dogs, french fries, chips and excessive cheese, ice cream, and even milk products overall. Low-fat or nonfat dairy products can be used with these young people, yet still be a diet which contains adequate levels of protein, essential oil-containing foods, calcium foods, and even eggs, though these should not be consumed excessively. Encouraging more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and some low-fat dairy foods will provide an adequate fiber, lower-fat diet with adequate calcium and calories. Some fish and poultry and occasional meat will support the protein needs very well, yet there are now many more vegetarian-oriented teenagers and young adults in our society who do very well.
With children who eat a lot of fast foods, ice cream, pizza, cookies, sodas, and other exciting modern day treats, the challenge is to get them to eat more wholesomely. Parents should provide these "treat" foods to their children only after they eat their more nutritious foods, and then only occasionally. Wholesome suggestions include replacing some soda and cookie snacks with low-fat milk, yogurt, and crackers; adding oat bran to cereals, meat loaf, or casseroles; using whole grain cereals in place of sugary ones as well as using cooked whole grains at meals; substituting Popsicles and fruit juice bars for fattier ice cream; using some low-fat cheeses such as cottage cheese or mozzarella (pizza with cheese and vegetables, not with fatty meats, is acceptable, even once or twice weekly); encouraging vegetables and fruits, with skins, even green salads when possible; and buying cookies and treats with low saturated fats and low sugar, such as fig bars, animal or graham crackers, ginger snaps, or the newer fruit-juice-sweetened cookies. We as parents also need to set a good example ourselves by our good food choices and by not overeating. Also, not snacking while watching television is suggested.
There is some controversy among authorities about the diet of the young in regard to CVD risk. Some believe that all children should be on a low-fat diet, at least lower than our current 40 percent national average. Most definitely, many of the poor-quality, refined foods should be avoided. Clearly, children who are obese or who have cholesterol levels over 200 mg./dl. should work to correct these states, and those who have families with CVD should be watched more closely. But overall, the higher-protein, higher-fat diet so consistent throughout the Western world does lead to increased growth and size of children and adults. Many cholesterol-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, meats, and eggs support the growth spurts. Yet, consumption of these foods are also associated with reduced longevity secondary to degenerative disease. My inclination has been to feed children this richer diet with more protein-fat foods, though it would still need to be a wholesome one, avoiding the junk, sweets, and fried oils. Then, as they move into their later teens and early adulthood, prepare them to shift their diet focus to a more natural, lower-fat, more vegetarian plan, with regular exercise supported along the way.
Herbs and Supplements
In addition to the oily coldwater fish, specific CVD-prevention foods include garlic, which has a fairly strong cholesterol- and blood-pressure-lowering effect, and onions and cayenne pepper, which have milder effects. These three foods are also herbs that are used in blood cleansing and thinning; garlic specifically lowers blood clotting potential. Soybeans and soy products such as tofu and tempeh may have a positive effect on cholesterol and atherosclerosis; besides all are low in fat and high in protein. Paavo Airola suggests other good foods for reducing CVD risk. These include the grains millet and buckwheat, sunflower seeds, okra, potatoes, asparagus, apples, and bananas, as well as yeast, lecithin, and linseed oil. Linseed (flax) oil has a high amount of the omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, and is a less expensive supplement to help reduce cholesterol levels. Linseed oil also contains the essential fatty acids (EFAs), linoleic and linolenic, which may help reduce blood fat levels and fatty deposits. Cold-pressed flaxseed oil is also readily used by our bodies in the important EFA functions, but it is a very fragile oil and must be fresh and then protected from light, heat, and oxidation.
Fatty Acid Chart
Most of the common vegetable oils are high in the omega-6 fatty acids, as are borage seed and evening primrose oil, though they contain mainly gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). Soybean oil and walnut oil are higher in the omega-3s, and linseed oil is highest. All of the EFAs, both omega-3 and omega-6, help in cell membrane support and prostaglandin synthesis. They also help in the transfer of oxygen in the lungs and are essential to growth in the young.
Fruits are also recommended. They have some nutrients, and are high-water-content cleansing foods that make the diet more alkaline. A diet of only fruit and vegetables for a week or two is a good way to realkalinize our body and blood, which aids detoxification and lowers blood fats. A more acidic, richer diet creates more mucus, and thicker, more viscous blood, and lymphatic congestion.
I think of atherosclerosis as being much like the crud that builds up in water pipes because of various chemical or mineral imbalances that allow particle precipitation. I then think of fasting on juice or water as a means of cleaning that sludge from the blood vessels and organs. Fasting definitely reduces blood fats and blood viscosity so that blood flows be