|10 Tips for Preventing Heart Disease |
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by Elson M. Haas MD.
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Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the most common interference with healthy aging and long life in the modern world. Here are a number of proactive ideas and tips to help you prevent the problems associated with heart disease. The triad of primary risk factors is smoking (nicotine addiction), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Even if your parents had high cholesterol or early heart disease, you can override, or at least delay, these influences with a proactive, healthy lifestyle.
- Maintain your ideal weight as closely as possible. If you smoke, do everything in your power to stop.
- Minimize your intake of saturated animal fats, especially excessive dairy products, as they seem to raise cholesterol more than other foods. Also avoid hydrogenated oils that clog and stress the cardiovascular system. All of these fats increase both total cholesterol and the harmful form of cholesterol (LDL), especially when oxidized.
- Minimize your intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like baked goods, chips, boxed sugared cereals, and other processed foods, as well as the salty snacks from chips to cured meats. These foods contribute to obesity, a leading risk factor for CVD. Avoiding chemical exposure as much as possible will lessen the irritation of the blood vessels, believed to be the main starting point of plaque formation and arteriosclerosis of blood vessels, the beginning of cardiovascular disease.
- Exercise regularly with a balanced program that includes stretching for flexibility, aerobics for endurance, and weight training for strength. This can help to lower body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Exercise also lowers your harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raises your good cholesterol (HDL). And exercise makes your body, mind, and heart happy.
- Eat more high-fiber, high-nutrient, lower-calorie foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. This diet can help you live longer.
- Get good-quality oils by eating nuts and seeds (ideally raw, unsalted, and organic), such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, as well as omega-3 oily fishes that include salmon and sardines (good with green salads). Use olive oil as your main vegetable and cooking oil.
- Nutritional supplements to consider for protection against cardiovascular disease includes vitamins C and E (despite recent controversies), omega-3 fatty acids, and the B vitamins (especially B-6, B-12, B-3, and Folic Acid) to maintain normal cholesterol metabolism and minimize homocysteine levels.
- Special nutrients that can be helpful in preventing and treating early disease include L-carnitine, Co-enzyme Q-10, Chromium, and higher levels of Niacin, mainly as the non-flushing (but not time-released) inositol hexanicotinate.
- Learn to manage your stress, let go of anger and frustrations, and communicate your feelings in a safe and non-aggressive way. Practice forgiveness and moving forward in life, still being aware of what you have learned from your life experiences (to avoid repeating mistakes in behavior).
- Develop close personal relationships that you can count on for support. Continue to expand your ability to give and receive in your friendships/loveships.
About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD
is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more