80% of Heart Attacks Could Be Avoided If Everyone Did These 5 Easy Things
Every year, about 1 million people in U.S. die from heart disease, the number one cause of death in both women and men. The most common heart disease form is CAD, coronary artery disease, which can cause a heart attack.
About 920,000 people in U.S. will have a heart attack only this year, and nearly half of them will happen suddenly without any warning symptoms.
Blockage of the blood flow to a part of the heart results in heart attack. This usually happens because of plaque accumulation inside arteries (atherosclerosis), which can rupture and create a blood clot which blocks blood circulation.
If there’s not a quick clearing of the blockage, a part of the heart muscle will start dying and it’ll be substituted with scar tissue that can lead to serious problems later.
For example, a past heart attack is potential risk for sudden cardiac arrest which results from abnormal heart rhythms and can be lethal.
Five Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent 80% of Heart Attacks
Although most of the heart attacks can be prevented, they are still causing so much emotional and physical pain as well as disability. The lifestyle can contribute to the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
In case you need extra motivation, we present you the results of a recent study at the Karolinska Institute, which discovered that almost 80% of the first heart attacks in men can be prevented with just 5 healthy lifestyle choices. The results had surprised even the researchers.
However, this heart disease/attack risk reduction isn’t the first one found. The INTERHEART study in 2004 investigated the risk factors of heart disease in more than 50 worldwide countries. It discovered that modification of diet and lifestyle habits can prevent 90% of heart disease cases.
This study was conducted on men on the age between 45 and 79, and it showed that just 1% of them had all five “low-risk” lifestyle habits which can prevent a heart attack, and these are:
- A healthy diet
- Healthy waist circumference (waist circumference <95 cm or 37.4 inches)
- Being physically active (walking/bicycling ≥40 min/day and exercising ≥1 h/week)
- No smoking
- Moderate alcohol consumption (10 to 30 g/day)
What Is a Healthy Diet for the Heart?
All of these 5 healthy lifestyle habits are pretty much clear, except for the first one- a healthy diet. Although you may assume what a healthy diet is, when it comes to the health of your heart it’s not what majority of you think. The real enemy aren’t the saturated fats in foods like lard, butter, or eggs like most people think, but the sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods.
The confusion about saturated fats is probably because of its influence on LDL cholesterol, usually called as “bad” cholesterol. The popular belief is that high LDL is related to heart disease, but saturated fats don’t increase LDL. Nevertheless, you can now see that there are 2 types of LDL cholesterol particles.
- Large, “fluffy” LDL cholesterol
- Small, dense LDL cholesterol
The first type isn’t actually bad, since according to researches large LDL particles don’t play part in heart disease. On the other hand, small LDL particles bring about plaque accumulation in arteries, and trans fat raises small LDL, while saturated fats raise large, benign LDL particles.
Moreover, according to a research, the small LDL particles are raised by consuming carbohydrates and refined sugar, like bagels, bread, and soda. Refined carbs and trans fats together, cause much more harm that saturated fats can ever cause.
With the appearance of cholesterol hypothesis, the food industry started to focus on low-fat foods, substituting healthy saturated fats such as lard and butter with harmful trans fats like margarine and vegetable oil, as well as lots of processed fructose and refined sugar.
The consequences of this flawed approach are clearly illustrated by the continuous rise of heart disease and obesity.
A True Heart-Healthy Diet Plan
Start avoiding trans fat if you want to take care of your heart, and this includes quitting the consumption of all processes foods, including the food from most restaurants. Moreover, you should address your leptin and insulin resistance, which comes from consuming food too high in grains and sugars. In order to reduce the risk of heart disease, follow the next advices, explained in details.
1.Avoid grains, processed fructose, and sugar, as well as most processed foods
2.Consume whole-foods diet, ideally organic, and instead of grain carbs consume:
- A lot of vegetables
- High-quality proteins in low-to-moderate amounts (consider organically raised, pastured animals)
- Saturated and monounsaturated high quality healthy fat from tropical oil sources and animals. Usually, about 50-85% fats are required in the diet of most people for their optimal health, which is significantly more than the current 10% recommended. Healthy fats sources to include in your diet are:
Avocados, coconuts and coconut oil, grass-fed meats, butter from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, unheated organic nut oils, raw nuts such as pecans, almonds, macadamia, and organic pastured egg yolks, seeds.
Another key for a healthy heart is balancing the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio, since these fatty acids help in the artery-cells building which causes the prostacyclin which keeps the blood flowing without any difficulties. Insufficient intake of omega-3 can contribute or cause severe health problems, both physical and mental, and can be an important factor in up to 96,000 premature deaths annually. That’s why you should avoid consuming vegetable oils and raise the consumption of small wild-caught oily fish like anchovies and sardines, or consider a high-quality krill oil supplement.
More Fruit for Your Heart?
The ESC Congress in Barcelona, Spain presented a study which discovered that those who consumed fruit on a daily basis had reduced risk of heart disease by 40%, and of death from any cause by 32%, in comparison with people who didn’t. Moreover, they showed that the more fruit consumed, the lower heart disease risk. Fruit can be rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals, a lot of which have anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties.
For example, BMJ (British Medical Journal) has published a research which showed that consuming an apple a day can help avoid death related to cardiovascular disease in people older than 50, similarly like using a statin on a daily basis.
However, it’s also recommended to avoid consuming too much fruit, especially the sweeter ones. Great number of the beneficial phytonutrients located in fruits don’t have a sweet taste, but a sour, butter, or astringent taste and can be found in the seeds and skin. But farmers have selectively breed the sweeter varieties to satisfy the nowadays needs, despite the fact that these favored varieties are less nutritious than they used to be.
However, moderate amounts of carefully selected fruit like organic apples, cherries, or blueberries can surely be beneficial. Since the content of fruits includes varying fructose levels, make sure to avoid too much fructose to protect your heart. Here are the suggestions of fruit and fructose consumption:
- Limit your fruit consumption if you are leptin or insulin resistant (hypertensive, diabetic, overweight, or with high cholesterol) like 80% of people in U.S. The recommended daily amount of fructose is 15 grams from all sources, even from whole fruit.
- If you have a normal weight, you’re without hypertension, diabetes, or high cholesterol, you aren’t leptin/insulin resistant, and you engage in manual labor or strenuous physical activity on a regular basis, consuming higher amounts of fructose shouldn’t cause you any health problems. So, you can probably feel free to eat fruit as much as you want.
- If you belong in the second category, the best way is to eat fruit usually after a workout, so that the sugar can be used as a fuel instead of increasing your blood sugar levels. You should do this since the fruit intake can still raise you blood sugar levels, and according to many experts this will cause raising of your protein glycosylation.
- Moreover, people who are endurance athletes, can probably consume pretty large quantities of fruit, as their body will use larger part of the glucose during their workout, and so it will prevent storing it as fat.
In case you’re still unsure about how strict you should be, check your uric acid levels and let that be your guide.
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