Conventional and unorthodox doctors unanimously agree that foods such as seafood, fruits, vegetables, green tea, nuts, grains, legumes, onions, ginger, hot pepper, garlic, olive oil, alcohol in moderation, foods high in Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene preserve the arteries and prevent heart disease and stroke. Meats and dairy foods high in saturated fat, excessive alcohol and smoking, on the other hand, could damage arteries and the heart.
Indeed, simply eating meals that include all ingredients known to individually prevent heart disease could add years to life. According to an international group of experts’ calculations, if men aged 50 and older added almonds, garlic and other heart disease-fighting ingredients to their daily diets, they might increase their life expectancy by more than six years, and spend more time free of heart disease.
Among women, following the same recipe after age 50 could add almost five extra years of life, the authors’ report in the British Medical Journal.
They call their recommendation diet the ‘Poly-meal,’ playing off the ‘Polypill’ idea, which received substantial attention, on the idea of giving everyone a combination pill to prevent heart disease. The ‘Poly-meal’ contains those ingredients that research has consistently shown can decrease the risk of heart disease.
The menu includes wine, fish, dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, garlic and almonds. All ingredients must be consumed daily in the recommended amounts, except for fish, which research suggests should be eaten four times per week.
Also, eating beans, including soya beans, kidney bean and chickpeas, has been shown to actually help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health.
1. What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) in one’s blood. More so, one’s cell, as well as one’s body, makes all it needs. Cholesterol also can get from the food we eat.
If there are too much of cholesterol in the body. It starts to build up in one’s arteries (Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart). This is called atherosclerosis or arteries hardening. This is where some heart and blood flow problems started.
The arteries can be narrowed through this buildup and make it harder for blood to flow through them. The buildup can also lead to dangerous blood clots and inflammation that can cause heart attacks and strokes.
Many things can affect cholesterol levels, including:
i. The food one does eat. Eating too much-saturated fat, Trans fat and cholesterol can raise one’s cholesterol.
ii. Being overweight. This may lower HDL (“Good”) cholesterol.
iii. Being inactive. Not exercising may lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
iv. Age. Cholesterol starts to rise after age 20.
v. Family history. If family members have or had high cholesterol, you may also have it.
There are different types of cholesterol:
i. Low-Density Lipo-Protein Cholesterol. is the “bad” cholesterol. It’s the type that can raise the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
ii. High-Density Lipo-Protein Cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol. It’s the type that is linked to a lower risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
2. High-Density Lipo-Protein Cholesterol and Low-Density Lipo-Protein Cholesterol.
The University of Western Ontario in London, Researchers found that flavonoids and limonoids present in orange juice increases the body’s HDL cholesterol (so-called ‘good’ cholesterol) level, which helps wash out the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (‘the bad’ cholesterol) from the system. Other citrus juices, such as grapefruit, also contain this bio-chemical. Orange juice is also a good source of Vitamin C.
Researchers also suggest that drinking three glasses of orange juice a day increases the ‘good’ High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and lowers the chance of getting heart disease.
In this study, patients with high cholesterol began by drinking one glass of orange juice daily for four weeks, eventually consuming three glasses daily for four weeks. The patients that did not drink any juice for five weeks and had their cholesterol tested again.
The results showed that while LDL cholesterol did not go down, the average HDL cholesterol level rose by 21 percent and the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol decreased by 16 percent. The combination of raising HDL cholesterol and lowering the ratio is known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre say beans increase blood levels of phytoestrogens or plant estrogens in women. According to Dr Bairey Merz. “A very significant relationship between increased phytoestrogen levels and lower cholesterol, this is the results of this study.”
There also may be “positive associations” with phytoestrogens and hormone replacement therapy for women during and after menopause.
3. Changes in diet and lifestyle have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
The next challenge is whether the same benefits can be obtained by taking supplement capsules instead of eating beans themselves. Other studies show that artificial forms produce less positive results. This probably means people should be eating beans as opposed taking supplements in capsule form.
Even modest changes in diet and lifestyle have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease.
In general, eating foods low in cholesterol, saturated fat and salt and taking vitamins and supplements or eating foods containing the essential vitamins and minerals is recommended.
Nutritionists also recommend eating oily fishes for better heart health. Fatty acids in fish contain Omega 3 that was shown to be effective in preventing heart diseases. Fish oil has been discovered some years ago by scientists to contain a kind of polyunsaturated oil that may be especially protective against heart attacks.
Indeed, scientists studying the health of different world population noticed an especially low incidence of coronary heart disease among the Eskimos of Greenland and Japanese people living in fishing villages on the sea. Though widely separated geographically, these two populations had at least one thing in common. Both groups consume the tremendous amount of fatty fish, fish oil, whale blubber and other marine life that fed on fish.
The scientists report that at first, their healthy hearts seemed incongruous since very high levels of fat in the diet-regardless of the source of that fat are considered a risk factor for heart disease.
Further studies revealed that both the maritime Japanese and Eskimos had the low level of triglycerides (a kind of blood fat), high levels of HDL cholesterol and reduced tendency for their blood to clot. All these things are classic signs suggesting a sound, healthy cardiovascular system.
Digging deeper the researchers found that the fish-loving people also had high levels of a class of fatty acid called Omega-3 fatty acids also known as Docosa Hexaenoic Acid (DHA), which comes from fish.
Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring are reportedly the richest sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, but most other fish and seafood contain some as well. Dutch researchers found that those who eat fish regularly have a lower rate of heart disease and stroke than those who do not.
4. Garlic, Ginger prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and heart attack.
Many studies indicate that garlic prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, may prevent the liver from producing excess fat and cholesterol.
Based on one study, by adding to a fatty as little as two ounces of garlic juice, the cholesterol-laden meal was found to actually lower the cholesterol by up to seven percent. Another study found that a day 600-mg of garlic powder could push the total cholesterol down by some 10 percent. According to other research that corroborated these findings reporting that LDL cholesterol while raising the HDL (“good”) cholesterol can be lowered by garlic
Eating three cloves of garlic a day keeps the cholesterol down for extended periods. It is reported that because garlic contains ajoene and other substances, it also helps to keep the blood “thin” and free of potentially deadly blood clots.
Ayurvedic physicians suggest that eating a little bit of ginger every day will help to prevent the heart attack. It reduces cholesterol. It prevents blood clots and reduces blood pressure. Therefore for a healthy heart, ginger is an important herb
Ginger’s heart-helping attributes are reportedly similar to that of garlic. Ginger has been shown to interfere with the long sequence of events necessary for blood clots to form. This reportedly helps to prevent clots that can lodge in narrowed coronary arteries and set off a heart attack.
5. An increase in intake in the number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day decrease in stroke risk and heart attack.
Onions have been shown to contain adenosine and other ‘blood thinners’ that help to prevent the formation of blood clots. To thin the blood, onions reportedly help keep the coronary arteries open and clear by increasing the HDL. Eating half a raw onion every day has been shown to increase HDL by 20 to 30 percent.
In a study of 87,000 nurses conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University, compared with those who ate one serving a month or less, subjects who ate five or more servings of carrots every week had a 68-percent lower risk of suffering stroke. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, all members of the vitamin A family. Eating a lot of fruits and veggies that are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C and E, can reduce the risk of having the stroke by as much as 54 percent if they enjoy carrots often.
Cayenne pepper improves circulation and heart function without raising blood pressure according to recent studies. It also enhances the power of other herbs taken at the same time.
The bromelain the enzyme that present in Pineapple is best known for its ability to break down proteins. It is a key ingredient in meat tenderizers. The bromelain action of anti-clotting might help prevent ischemic stroke and heart attack.
A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that fruits and vegetables are beneficial in combating stroke. It was conducted at Harvard’s School of Public Health where investigators studied the relationship between fruit intake and the rate of stroke in over 75,000 women.
There is a decrease in stroke risk in those who had an increase in intake in the number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
More so, the same Journal of the America Medical Association revealed that eating whole grain bread can drop stroke risk by 43 percent. Dr Simin Liu of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The USA conducted a study that followed the health and stroke frequency of nurses over a multi-year period. The dietary concern has been paid attention to and intake of whole grain bread. Liu said, “replacing refined grains with whole grains by even one serving a day may have significant benefits in reducing the risk of ischemic stroke’. The study concludes, “With a lower risk of ischemic stroke among women higher intake of whole grain foods was associated with this.”