Nutrients for a Healthy Heart

Cardiovascular and heart disease are the leading cause of death in the United States, leading to 1 in 4deaths among Americans. Unlike some of the other leading causes of death, most cases of heart and cardiovascular disease can be prevented with proper diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes by the individual. Although there are certain hereditary factors involved with heart disease, these too can be overcome with proper attention to nutrition and healthy living. There are a large number of nutrients and supplements that can help prevent heart disease and improve overall cardiovascular health. Most of these reduce the number of free radicals in the bloodstream that can cause damage to heart tissue or they interact with cholesterol to raise the ratio of HDL Cholesterol (good) to LDL Cholesterol (bad).

Antioxidants are substances that bind and eliminate free radicals. Left unchecked, free radicals interact with the DNA of cells and cause cell death or cancer. The cells of the heart are especially susceptible to damage from free radicals, which make antioxidant nutrients a valuable tool in protecting the heart. There are many different classes of antioxidants including some that are our common everyday vitamins. Vitamins A, C and E are among the most potent antioxidants our body uses. Increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables along with nuts and seeds are a great way of improving your overall cardiovascular and heart health. Nutrients such as Flavonoids, Lycopene and Lutein are also very strong antioxidants which the body can use to eliminate free radicals.

The other significant way that nutrients can help prevent heart and cardiovascular disease is to shift the percentage of HDL to LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is largely responsible for the buildup of plaque on the inside walls of arteries and veins. This buildup leads to high blood pressure and also can result in a complete blockage. The arteries that supply oxygenated blood to the heart tissue are especially susceptable to blockage. When these arteries become blocked, heart tissue dies. This is commonly called a heart attack or myocardial infarction. Vitamin E, along with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids from fish are invaluable nutrients that keep LDL cholesterol percentages decreased.

There are other nutrients including Niacin, Magnesium and Vitamin B that have been shown to reverse damage already done to the heart and to prevent plaque from building up inside veins and arteries. Potassium is another key nutrient as it helps to lower blood pressure by counteracting sodium in the bloodstream.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables will not only help prevent cardiovascular disease by helping to control an individuals weight, these foods also contain enormous amounts of the vitamins and minerals proven to reduce and prevent heart and cardiovascular disease. Along with oily fish such as salmon and nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables will go a long way in preventing you from becoming one of the 25% of people whose death is caused by cardiovascular disease.

by Peter Sedesex