(NaturalNews) Heart Disease takes the lives of more people in the Western world than any other illness. While up to 90% of heart disease is entirely preventable, the modern lifestyle is out of alignment with true health.
Many people may think the dietary changes recommended in this article are too extreme or require uncommon willpower, but the alternative (a double or triple bypass heart operation), should be viewed as the extreme or uncommon last resort. The dietary and lifestyle recommendations should be viewed as a necessary and appropriate response to the epidemic that currently faces the Western world.
Foods to avoid or cut down:
* Avoid saturated fats (either animal or vegetable), which include butter, cheese, cream, hard margarines, and fatty red meats as they can increase cholesterol.
* Avoid all trans fats and hydrogenated fats - usually found in margarines, processed and refined foods, takeaways and over-heated omega 6 vegetable oils. Avoid all fried foods (use a tiny amount of butter for high temperature cooking), as these create free radicals which can damage the heart.
* Avoid adding salt to your food as it can raise blood pressure; use a low-salt alternative.
* Avoid excess alcohol consumption as it increases the risk of heart disease. One glass of red wine per day is beneficial due to its antioxidant content.
* Avoid sugary foods and refined carbohydrates as they can cause insulin resistance which is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. They can also be converted into fat by the body, which in turn increases blood fat levels (triglycerides).
* Avoid processed and refined burgers, pastries, cakes and desserts as they are usually high in salt, sugar, saturated fat and hydrogenated and trans fats.
* Avoid coffee and decaffeinated coffee since it can increase cholesterol levels and blood pressure through dehydration.
Foods to increase:
* Eat more oily fish as it contains heart protective omega 3 fats. Oily fish include salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, anchovies and sardines. Please note tuna may have a high mercury content due to ocean pollution.
* Eat plenty of heart disease fighting vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, cress, tomato puree, and most green vegetables as these contain anti-oxidants which protect the heart. They contain plenty of magnesium and potassium which help lower blood pressure and can reduce palpitations.
* Eat plenty of fruit but avoid 100% fruit juices and dried fruit as they are very sugary. Red berries, mangos, apricots and bananas contain antioxidants to protect the heart and magnesium and potassium which help lower blood pressure and reduce palpitations.
* Drink at least 12 glasses of water per day as this can help lower blood pressure. Your urine should be a very pale yellow colour if you are well hydrated.
* Use wheat germ oil as it is high in vitamin E which protects the heart and can lower blood pressure.
* Use olive oil daily since it lowers LDL cholesterol.
* Eat more nuts and seeds like brazil nuts and walnuts. They contain omega 6 fats as they lower LDL cholesterol.
* Increase your intake of foods containing soluble fibre which can reduce cholesterol including apples, carrots, oat bran, psyllium husks, linseeds and hemp seeds, red kidney beans and lentils.
* Use plenty of garlic in your daily cooking. It reduces cholesterol levels.
* Use flaxseed (linseed) oils in salads as they contain heart protecting omega 3 fats.
* Stop smoking and avoid smoke filled places as smoking increases the risk of heart disease.
* Learn to deal with stress and have a more positive attitude to life. Having fun lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure Yoga, mediation, tai chi, and massage help you to deal with stress.
* It is important to exercise for at least 3-5 times per week. Walking 30 minutes per day is a good start and can still reduce the risk of heart disease. If you are currently sedentary or have other markers of heart disease or signs of a heart under stress, always begin any seri-ous exercise programme under the supervision of a professional.
Alex Howard is author of "WHY ME? My Journey from M.E. to Health and Happiness" and founder of The Optimum Health Clinic, an award winning clinic specialising in M.E./C.F.S./Fibromyalgia based in Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. The clinic has treated over 5,000 patients with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia in over twenty-five countries around the world, and is currently running a two year clinical trial in conjunction with two top universities. A free information pack, including a 75 documentary about the clinic and its work, can be ordered from www.FreedomFromME.co.uk
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