The Underlying Causes of Heart Disease

Despite the best of medical efforts,  heart   disease  still kills about 2,400 Americans every single day. That is an average of one death every 37 seconds. This includes many kinds of cardiovascular  disease  like  heart  attacks, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis and arrhythmias. The good news is we are doing a much better job of identifying the underlying causes of  heart   disease  through a good diet and lifestyle changes, however, we need to focus our attention on 2 things: inflammation and oxidative damage.

Inflammation occurs when your immune system rushes in to “fix” something gone awry or to get rid of an invader and this very act of protecting you unleashes all sorts of chemicals in the body that can inadvertently damage tissues. Think about what happens when you cut yourself – the cut heals but only after becoming red, warm and swollen. Imagine that effect on your blood vessels – not good!

When injuries occur to your blood vessels, your immune system rushes in with cells to repair the damage, however, the process actually damages blood vessels even further, thickens the blood and contributes to the formation of blood clots. One reason why immune cells rush to the walls of blood vessels is because that is where plaque builds up. This build-up ocurs when LDL (bad) cholesterol becomes oxidized or damaged by free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants). Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals before they can do much damage which is why it is so important to eat foods that help heal the body, reduce inflammation and the oxidation process while supporting your heart.

Here is a list of foods to consider adding to your daily regimen:

1. OLIVE OIL – use olive oil in all your food preparation instead of butter. It will soothe inflammation, reduce oxidation and lower cholesterol levels.

2. BEANS – instead of eating red meat, choose beans – the darker the better. Beans are high in folate, a B-vitamin that works to reduce inflammation. Try lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas to name a few which are also high in fiber.

3. GARLIC AND ONIONS – they both contain sulfur compounds and are part of the Meditteranean Diet that can help prevent  heart   disease , obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension.

4. POMEGRANATES – they lower blood pressure, help prevent atherosclerosis and support the heart.

5. SARDINES – are an excellent source of Co-Enzyme Q10 which is a vitamin-like substance that exists in every cell of your body and is important in supporting heart function. Low levels of Co-Q10 are linked to all forms of  heart   disease  and supplementing with Co-Q10 reduces cholesterol oxidation in the body.

6. WALNUTS – add them to your salad or oatmeal every day because they are clinically proven to protect the heart because they contain Omega 3’s which are known to reduce inflammation. A handful a day should keep the Cardiologist away.

7. WINE – one glass of wine for women and 2 glasses for men reduces heart attack risk by 25-40%. This does not mean start drinking if you do not drink, however, moderation is the still the key.

Foods to avoid include red meat, butter, whole-fat dairy products or foods that are high in saturated fats. Reducing the amount of these foods in your diet go a long way in protecting you against  heart   disease .