Diet and cardiovascular health often go hand in hand. The information below explains in detail the close correlation between the two and proposes solutions to keep a healthy diet for the heart.
A word about cholesterol
An excessive amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood is the main trigger for atherosclerosis.
- Most often, hypercholesterolemia is caused by diet, lack of exercise and other lifestyle habits.
- For most people, a moderately elevated cholesterol level can be lowered by adopting a diet in which less than 30% (but preferably 20%) of its calories come from fat, mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated types present in the diet. vegetable oils, fish, nuts and seeds.
Doctors traditionally advise using margarine, especially that made from corn, safflower and other unsaturated fats, instead of butter.
- But trans fatty acids in hardened margarine can raise LDL cholesterol even more than the essentially saturated fat in butter.
- A soft margarine made from non-hydrogenated fats is probably the best choice. Several margarines of this type are currently available.
Can the supplements help?
Although studies suggest that antioxidants from food sources play a protective role against cardiovascular disease, studies using dietary supplements have been disappointing.
- One test showed that daily supplementation with vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamin C had no significant benefit in high-risk individuals.
- And the relationship between vitamin E and the prevention of heart disease is still uncertain.
- Some studies have even shown that antioxidant supplements can reduce the effectiveness of drugs designed to reduce “statin” cholesterol.
- Some studies show that high doses of beta-carotene can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by about 45%. Carrots are one of the main sources of this important carotenoid.
- However, studies also indicate that high doses of beta-carotene tablet will not help prevent heart disease.
- In Finland, a group of researchers has identified excess iron as another dietary factor that can damage the heart and blood vessels.
While it was already well known that an excessive amount of iron damaged the heart, liver and other vital organs, it was the first time that high-normal iron levels were risk of serious illness.
This reinforces the long-standing advice not to take supplements without consulting a doctor first.
Did you know?
25% of North Americans who die of cardiovascular disease do not have high blood pressure or high LDL cholesterol. They do not smoke and are not excessively overweight. High levels of homocysteine in the blood may be responsible.
- Homocysteine is an amino acid known to damage arterial walls when present in high concentrations in the blood.
Eat a lot of:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables, foods rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other antioxidant nutrients.
- Soy protein.
- Apples, oat bran and other foods rich in soluble fiber.
- Breads and whole grains.
Limit your consumption of:
- Saturated fat in fatty meats, chicken skin, whole milk products, coconut oil and lard.
- Eggs, whole milk, offal and other foods high in cholesterol.
- Fats, especially those that are saturated.
- Trans fatty acids found in partially hydrogenated margarine and fat, processed foods made with partially hydrogenated fats and pastries.
- An excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Tobacco consumption in any form whatsoever.
Salty foods (if you have high blood pressure).