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Achieving Good Cardiovascular Health Naturally

By Dr. Kathleen Akin, CCSP


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number 1 killer in America and about 950,000 Americans died last year of this disease, which accounts for over 40 percent of all deaths. This statistic, according to the American Heart Association, is alarming! In order to help prevent this disease and achieve a healthy heart, a person needs to incorporate better food habits, which means choosing the right foods to eat and preparing the foods in a healthy way, a daily routine of physical activity, managing stress, and understanding and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Human diets, especially in the western world, have changed dramatically in the past decade. We are no longer bound by seasonal or indigenous foods, but are capable of eating almost anything naturally or artificially at any time or amount throughout the year. Studies now have shown that these modern changes have been ultimately harmful to the population that consumes them and can lead to increase risks to numerous diseases. People that consume a diet of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated fatty acids, and omega-3 fatty acids, choosing low glycemic foods that are high in fiber and phytonutrients with the least amount of processing, eating fruits, nuts and vegetable consistently lower their risk for cardiovascular disease.

While physicians are increasingly looking to test for and help maintain normal-range lipid related cardiovascular markers, many people are looking for safer and more natural ways to support good cardiovascular health. Those people who are compliant with their diet and lifestyle changes can effectively reduce their cardiovascular risk. However, it may not enough to achieve optimal lipid profiles. Incorporating niacin, pantethine, plant sterols, policosanol and omega-3 fatty acids from fish and fish oil have all been significant in addressing lipid profiles, which can lead to better cardiovascular health.

First researched 40 years ago, niacin continues to be one of the most studied approaches for maintaining blood lipid levels that are already in normal range. To prevent the bothersome side effect of flushing, consider a time-released form. A 1989 study of patients with high cholesterol and established coronary artery disease, niacin at an average dose of 1400 mg/day significantly lowered total cholesterol by 13% and significantly increased HDL by 31%.

Pantethine supports normal platelet function, endothelial responsiveness, and has overall antioxidant benefits. There is numerous research pending which is likely to show pantethine to be a leading natural supporter of cardiovascular health. Administering 900 mg of pantethine per day resulted in average reduction of triglycerides by 23%.

Plant sterols and stanols are compounds from various plant sources, which are structurally similar to cholesterol. Sterols inhibit the absorption of cholesterol from the gastrointestinal tract, which results in reducing the absorption of dietary cholesterol and bile recycling. The FDA permits the following claim: “Foods containing at least 0.65 grams per serving of plant sterol esters, eaten twice a day with meals for a daily total intake of at least 1.3 grams, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

It has been well established that the role of omega-3fatty acids from fish and fish oil has helped prevent cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA with patients with hypertriglyceridemia.

The list of other natural agents addressing good cardiovascular health is exhausting. There are studies on red yeast rice, berberine, artichoke, garlic, fenugreek, walnuts, red wine, pomegranate juice and green tree extracts.

In conclusion, the best tips for achieving good cardiovascular health naturally is to:

  • Eat a diet low in saturated fat, especially animal fats and coconut oils.

  • Add foods to your diet that are high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, and seafood.

  • Eat foods containing polyunsaturated fats found in plants and seafood. Safflower oil and corn oil are high in polyunsaturated fats.

  • Choose a diet with moderate salt and sodium.

  • Maintain and improve your weight.

  • Eat plenty of grain products, fruits and vegetables.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Incorporate supplements.

Remember, it is important to consult your physician before implementing any change to your cardiovascular protocol and the Food and Drug Administration have not evaluated the above statements. For further information or references, please contact Dr. Akin.


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