5 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Heart disease is a lifestyle disease. Your diet and lifestyle choices are a major factor in determining your likelihood of developing heart disease.


    Heart disease develops as a result of inflammation and oxidative damage. So, let's cover steps you can take to decrease inflammation and oxidative damage to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.


    1. Decrease your sugar intake.


    When I say sugar, I'm also referring to simple carbohydrates. When you consume carbohydrates the body breaks them down into sugar molecules. Converting simple carbs (i.e. refined carbohydrates) into sugar is a fairly quick process for the body. Simple carbohydrates include potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice, along with your sugar sweetened beverages, candy, and sweets. As these foods are broken down, sugar enters the blood steam and can result in blood sugar spikes. These spikes contribute to oxidative damage and inflammation.

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    Instead select complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, high fiber bread, high fiber pasta, and sweet potatoes. These foods are higher in fiber and fiber slows the process of conversion to sugar within the body.


    As far as sugary drinks, candy, and sweets. . .keep those to a minimum.


    2. Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids.


    You need a regular source of EPA and DHA (two omega 3 fatty acids) in your diet. Omega 3 fatty acids protect against inflammation.


    Additional omega 3 benefits include improvements in blood pressure, lipoprotein(a) levels, HDL cholesterol, arrhythmias, and endothelial function.


    To boost your daily intake of the omega 3's DHA and EPA you need to add fish to your diet, such as tuna and salmon. You may also need to consider an omega 3 supplement. Be sure to discuss all supplements with your doctor.


    3. Correct a Vitamin D deficiency.


    Low vitamin D levels are linked to a large number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease. More specifically, a deficiency of vitamin D affects blood pressure, insulin resistance, and coronary artery disease based on a review of research published in the American College of Cardiology in November 2011.


    Your best source for vitamin D is the sun. Spending 10 to 15 minutes in the sun each day is typically enough to meet your vitamin D needs, depending on where you live.


    Some food sources for vitamin D include fatty fish, fortified dairy products, and fortified cereals.


    4. Limit oils high in omega 6 fatty acids.


    The omega 6 fatty acid tends to be inflammatory, promoting oxidative damage and heart disease. Vegetable oils such as corn, soy, and safflower are high in omega 6 fatty acids. Instead opt for olive oil which is higher in omega 9 fatty acids or canola oil which contains more of the omega 3 fatty acid ALA.


    5. Eat nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory foods

    Consume a diet high in fruits and vegetables. This is one of your best defenses against heart disease. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants. Consume a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack!

  • High blood pressure is an independent risk factor for heart disease. If you have high blood pressure you must take steps to bring it under control. You can access the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.

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Published On: December 15, 2011