If you are reading this, it is possible that you or someone you know or love may need help for their heart! Here’s to a healthy heart!
EAT FISH TWICE A WEEK
Heart disease is quite uncommon among people who eat lots of fish. Certain unsaturated fatty acids unique to fish are thought to be responsible for this protective effect. Eat at least four ounces of fish a week. Best: Rich, oily species like bluefish, mackerel, tuna and Salmon, but before you ingest whatever kind of fish you choose, you would be wise to make sure that fish is not contaminated with any chemicals. Whether you realize it or not, our environment has been compromised over and over. What about fish-oil supplements? There’s little evidence that they’re beneficial.
ALCOHOL AND ASPIRIN
Study after study has proven that an occasional drink raises levels of HDL cholesterol (that is your “good cholesterol”). Men whose HDL is below 30 should consider having one or two drinks daily (one if you’re a woman). One drink equals a glass of wine, a shot of distilled spirits or 12 ounces of beer. A sip of alcohol or one drink a day for women, can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, especially when in combination with healthful eating habits, (more is not recommended) because too much alcohol raises the risk of other diseases that affect your liver or causes cancer. Low-dose aspirin therapy-one-half tablet a day-is proven to prevent heart attacks in those who have heart disease. Aspirin may also be beneficial for individuals at risk for heart disease. That includes men over 50 and postmenopausal women. There’s no evidence that preventive aspirin therapy is beneficial to people with healthy hearts. Word of Caution: If you’re allergic to aspirin, have ulcers or are prone to digestive bleeding, aspirin therapy is not for you. Consult your physician as to other alternatives.
CONSIDER TAKING ANTIOXIDANTS
Cholesterol damages arteries when it has been oxidized, via a chemical reaction analogous to rusting. Fortunately, the body has enzymes that prevent oxidation by “mopping up” the unstable molecules (free radicals) that cause oxidation. Three antioxidant nutrients – vitamins C and E and beta-carotene – give this natural defense system a big boost, especially when taken in combination. Sufficient levels of beta-carotene can easily be obtained by eating green and yellow vegetables, and vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits. But it’s hard to get much vitamin E from dietary sources, so start taking a daily supplement but research what quantities are enough for you, or ask your physician.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER SUPPLEMENTS?
There’s been much less research on chromium than on the “big three” antioxidants. But in one study, volunteers took 200 micrograms of the mineral three times a day. Results: Levels of protective HDL cholesterol rose by 16%. That translates into 20% reduction in the risk for heart disease. If your HDL levels are below 30, and it cannot be raised via weight loss, exercise or moderate alcohol consumption, ask your doctor about taking, chromium supplements.
Important Note for Diabetics:
Glucose tolerance factor (GTF) seems to be safer than the more popular supplement, chromium iodinate. In another study involving more than 15,000 physicians and researchers, it was found that those whose blood contained high levels of the amino acid homocysteine were more likely to have a heart attack. Homocysteine seems to damage artery walls and promote clotting. To keep homocysteine levels down: take a daily supplement containing vitamins B-6 and B-12 and folic acid.
MEDICAL TESTS AND LAB -WORK-UP
Your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar should be checked each time you have a physical exam. However, if you are diabetic, a blood profile and A1C should be checked every three months. Moreover, you should have an electrocardiogram with each check-up. Stress tests aren’t necessary unless you’re having chest pains or other heart disease symptoms.