Health Blog

A Simple Way to Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Posted in Health Articles by Pulse Health Screening on April 23, 2010
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In late March, the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled the widely-prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drug Zocor, after it was found to increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis – a potentially fatal muscle disease. This drug is one of many statins currently being investigated.

All statins hold a risk of muscle injury, called myopathy. However, rhabdomyolysis is the most extreme form and can cause kidney failure and even death.

So where does this leave you if you’re looking to promote heart health and ward off cardiovascular disease?

B vitamins proving to be the key to heart health…

The latest research findings have revealed a simple way to lower homocysteine levels – like raised cholesterol levels they’re another contributing factor that can increase your risk of heart disease.

Japanese researchers, from the Osaka University, found a reduced risk of heart failure in men, and a lower risk of heart disease and stroke in women, whose diets contained high amounts of the B vitamins folate and vitamin B6.

Lead researcher, Dr. Hiroyasu Iso, and his colleagues evaluated data from 23,119 men and 35,611 women, aged 40 to 79, who participated in the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study Group. Dietary questionnaire responses were analyzed for folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 levels. Subjects were followed for 14 years, during which 2,087 deaths from cardiovascular disease occurred, including 424 deaths from coronary heart disease and 986 deaths from stroke.

The study showed an association between increased dietary folate and vitamin B6 intake and a reduction in mortality from coronary heart disease, stroke and total cardiovascular disease in women.

For men, folate and vitamin B6 appeared to be protective against heart failure mortality. No associations with cardiovascular mortality were found for vitamin B12.

The researchers said that folate and vitamin B6 showed the ability to lower homocysteine – an amino acid which, when elevated, has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin B6 is present in potatoes, fish, eggs, spinach, bananas, beans, seeds, red meat, nuts and fortified cereals. Good sources of folate include liver, dried beans and other legumes, green leafy vegetables and asparagus.

Hydrogenated fats and your heart

Whilst we’re on the subject of diet and heart health – one of the best things you can do for your heart is avoid hydrogenated or trans fats.

Trans fats are produced during ‘hydrogenation’, a food manufacturing process where oils are changed from liquid to solid at high temperatures.

We all know that avoiding saturated fats is an important step forward in protecting your heart. Trans fats are like saturated fats in that they raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in our blood, but they also lower HDL (good) cholesterol and increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks even more. Latest research shows that cutting trans fats in the English diet by just 1 per cent could prevent 11,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths each year.

Avoiding trans fats in your diet can be a challenge because they aren’t always listed on food labels. Common foods that contain trans fats are: processed and cured meat, processed cheese and other processed dairy products, cakes, biscuits, pastries, tortilla chips and wraps, chicken nuggets, bought pies and some margarines. These foods are often high in calories and saturated fat, so cutting down on them will not only be a positive step for your arteries but also for your waistline.

Other culprits laden with trans fats and saturated fats are takeaways and ready meals. So instead of eating out, prepare a healthier, low-fat version of your favourite takeaway at home instead. This way you can take control of the type and amount of fat you eat. You can also play around with new ideas and ingredients like fresh fruit and vegetables and healthy cooking techniques like grilling or steaming.

If you are looking for a tasty food that can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and protect against heart disease and stroke, reach for an avocado: It’s a good source of vitamin K, dietary fibre, potassium and folate and can be used in everything from guacamole to soup.

Source: HSI Daily Health 23/4/10

A high level of homocysteine is one of the causes of heart diesease. Get your homocysteine checked at . It could save your life


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