Heart disease and strokes cause nearly half of all deaths in America, and severely reduce the quality of life for many people. Both diseases have the same underlying cause, which is atherosclerosis, a condition in which cholesterol, fat, and calcium harden, narrow, and eventually plug the arteries. This process takes many years and gives virtually no clues until the arteries have 50 to 80 percent blockage.
While there are some risk factors for cardiovascular disease that we can’t change, such as age and sex, there are some that we can do something about. According to the Framingham Heart Study the six most important modifiable risk factors are high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and physical inactivity.
The amount of cholesterol in the blood is one of the three most important risk factors for atherosclerosis.
Research shows that the risk of death from heart disease increases when cholesterol exceeds 150 mg/dl. However that is not the whole picture. Cholesterol comes in two forms; LDL (the bad kind) and HDL (the good kind). HDL actually protects us from atherosclerosis by removing cholesterol from the arteries. An HDL level of 75 mg/dl drops heart disease risk to near zero, while a level of 25 mg/dl or lower raises the risk very high.
An especially harmful type of cholesterol (oxidized cholesterol) is found in Parmesan cheese, lard, dry mixes that contain powdered milk or eggs, such as custard and pancake mixes, and other processed foods containing cholesterol and sugar. Some of the chemicals in oxidized cholesterol are so toxic they can cause irreversible damage to arterial walls in less than 24 hours.
Another factor is the type of fat in the diet Saturated fat (S) is more effective at raising cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol itself is. The type of protein consumed also affects cholesterol levels. Animal protein increases blood cholesterol levels while plant protein decreases it. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats tend to raise HDL (good) cholesterol.
There are eight keys to preventing, treating, and reversing heart disease. They are so effective that if every American followed them 90 percent of heart attacks could be prevented.
1. Reduce blood cholesterol. Levels less than 150 mg/dl will reduce the risk of heart attack by 60 to 90 percent.
2. Eat a plant based diet. All the cholesterol we eat comes from animal products; plant foods contain no cholesterol. To remove all cholesterol from the diet all animal products must be eliminated.
3. Increase dietary fiber. It absorbs cholesterol in the digestive tract and removes it.
4. Decrease blood levels of fat. Sugar, fat, and alcohol increase the amount of fat in the blood. Fat promotes plaque buildup in the arteries and stimulates the blood to clot, increasing the risk of heart disease.
5. Stop smoking. Over a period of five years this will reduce your risk of heart attack by 50 to 75 percent.
6. Start a regular aerobic exercise program. This raises HDL so effectively it can reduce the risk of heart disease by over 45 percent in those who are unfit.
7. Reach and maintain your ideal body weight. Losing weight can cut heart disease risk by 35 to 55 percent in those who are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight.
8. Reduce blood pressure. A ten point reduction in blood pressure reduces heart disease risk 20 to 30 percent in those with high blood pressure.
Many people have experienced very good results from implementing these principles. As results from implementing these principles. As artery blockage reverses, angina pains have cleared up, and an active normal life has again become possible.