Worried about heart health? Unhealthy cholesterol levels are a major contributing factor of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The body needs cholesterol to function, but too much of it in the blood, or too much of the wrong kind, can be dangerous. The factors leading to heart disease:
High cholesterol, especially high LDL levels. These two factors combine to form a well known risk factor for heart disease. Both lifestyle and genetics can influence cholesterol levels. Treating high cholesterol levels with a high fibre diet and nutritional supplementation can be very effective.
Low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels. This pattern, sometimes called “Syndrome X,” is associated with insulin resistance. It appears to affect about 30 percent of the population and carries with it an increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
Top tips for heart health:
- Watch portion size: Being overweight puts the heart under the pressure and can increase triglyceride levels.
- Load up on fruit and veg: They’re full of antioxidants which protect the cardiovascular system from free radical damage. Plant foods such as porridge, sweet potatoes, beans and berries, are high in soluble fibre which helps excrete LDL (the potentially harmful from of cholesterol) from the body.
- Choose whole grains: Make the switch from bread and pasta to whole refined grains such as porridge, buckwheat, cous cous, quinoa and brown rice. You’ll be consuming much more fibre and nutrients.
- Limit trans fats: Trans fats are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. Trans fats are commonly found in processed food such as margarine, baked goods and fried foods. Trans fats are often labelled as ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ on the ingredients list.
- Use herbs and spices instead of table salt.
- Get moving: Regular exercise such as brisk walking and resistance training, can help increase HDL levels while lowering triglycerides and LDL. Studies show that implementing an exercise routine can improve cholesterol readings in as little as two months.
- Find ways to manage stress: The body produces a surge of hormones when in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase blood pressure by causing the heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. Chronic stress can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels.
Nutrients your heart needs:
- Q10: People with elevated cholesterol levels (especially triglycerides and LDL) have lower levels of Q10 when compared with healthy people. Q10 is a powerful antioxidant which has been shown to help lower the risk of heart failure. It protects LDL cholesterol from being oxidised and distributed in the arteries. Q10 also reduces blood pressure by making blood vessels healthier and less vulnerable to constriction. Multiple studies have found that people who received daily Q10 supplements within 3 days of a heart attack were significantly less likely to experience subsequent heart attacks and chest pain. In addition, these same patients were less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not receive the supplement. Q10 can also reduce side effects of cholesterol lowering drugs such as fatigue and muscle aches.
- Magnesium: Over the past 100 years, our soils have become depleted of magnesium, making it extremely difficult to get sufficient levels through the diet. Magnesium is often referred to as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ as it helps calm the body. Magnesium is effective in treating hypertension as it can help relax blood vessels and regulate heart health.
- Fish Oil: Omega-3 fats have been shown to combat inflammation in the body. They can help prevent arrhythmias, lower triglycerides, slow down the buildup of plaque in the arteries, and even lower blood pressure. Those at risk of cardiovascular disease should take 1 gram of fish oil daily.
- Garlic: Garlic acts similarly to ACE inhibitors to promote healthy blood pressure levels. A recent study found that 2400mg of garlic a day reduced plague build up by 80%.
If you would like more information regarding cholesterol control, please don’t hesitate to call in store where the staff of Conefrey’s Pharmacy will be more than happy to provide you with the help and advice that you need.