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How diet can keep arteries healthy

MagazineApril 2004 (Vol. 15 Issue 1)How diet can keep arteries healthy

The standard line tells you to stop smoking, reduce high blood pressure and lower your cholesterol levels if you want to avoid heart disease

The standard line tells you to stop smoking, reduce high blood pressure and lower your cholesterol levels if you want to avoid heart disease. While this may be good advice, half of all heart patients are non-smokers with normal levels of cholesterol and blood pressure, which suggests that this formula fails to meet the challenge of heart disease.

If this is indeed the case, here are some other things you may wish to consider:

Diet
* Three servings a day of fresh fruit can reduce your heart-disease risk by 25 per cent. Similar results have been achieved among people who eat a raw salad every day.

* Lower - or completely eliminate, if possible - all refined sugars and processed carbohydrates from your diet. Serving food with a splattering of fresh olive or rapeseed (canola) oil can also be beneficial, but its good effects are neutralised if you just cook with it.

* Wholegrains and several servings a week of fresh oily fish also play a part in maintaining a healthy heart.

Nutrition
* Magnesium: Low magnesium levels have been linked to heart disease. To prevent this happening, supplement with 50 mg of vitamin B6 twice a day. Following a heart attack, increase the daily dose to 200 mg.

* Vitamin E: This can protect against the buildup of homocysteine in the blood, now recognised as a major cause of heart disease.

* Omega-3: These essential fatty acids, found in fish and flaxseed oils as well as in supplements, can normalise or prevent arterial disease.

* L-Carnitine: This amino acid has been proven to be an effective preventative agent, and can even stabilise the heart after an attack.

* Thiamine: Low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1) have been discovered in heart patients. It's particularly important to supplement if you have had a heart attack as this vitamin can help improve your heart's pumping function.

* Calcium: A lack of calcium may also be contributory to hypertension. Make sure levels of vitamin D3, in particular, are kept high as this vitamin helps the body take up and utilise calcium.


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