Browsing Posts tagged cholesterol

Heart disease is a major cause of death in developed as well as under developed countries. In Europe, especially England, approximately more than 27 % of all deaths are due to coronary heart disease (CHD). Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and can eventually lead to heart attack. High blood pressure, stress, lack of exercise, being overweight, smoking cigarettes, increasing age, being male, heredity and choice of foods are the risk factors that ultimately result in heart diseases.

Research has shown that our diet, especially the amount and type of fat we eat, can increase the risk of CHD. Diets that are high in saturated fatty acids may raise the level of cholesterol in the blood. High blood cholesterol levels are linked to the development of CHD.

Cholesterol is found in some foods, and also made in the body by the liver, mainly from saturated fatty acids in foods. If cholesterol is oxidized (picks up oxygen circulating in the body), it can be deposited in the linings of coronary arteries, which starts to become block.

Antioxidants found naturally in foods, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, B-carotene and selenium help to stop cholesterol picking up oxygen, so that it is deposited less readily in the coronary arteries.

Cholesterol is not made so easily by liver if a person eats foods that contain poly-unsaturated fatty acids and some monounsaturated fatty acids. For example, the poly-unsaturated fatty acids in oily fish (e.g. sardine, mackerel, herring, and pilchards) seem to reduce the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.

Research has shown that when oils are processed to make them into margarine and other cooking fats, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the oil may change to trans-fatty acids. These may increase the amount of cholesterol made by the liver.

Prevention of heart disease should begin in early childhood. Research has shown that fatty steaks have appeared in the arteries of some children as young as 10 years old. To prevent later problems, parents should encourage their children and adults to:

– Eat a variety of foods; eat fresh fruits, vegetables and salads.
– Regular exercise also strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of CHD
– Eat less high-fat food.
– Eat less sweet food, as excess sugar is converted into fat in the body causing weight gain and therefore a strain on the heart.
– Eat less salty food, as too much can lead to high blood pressure and therefore a strain on the heart.
– CHD patients are usually given dietary advice and are encouraged to stop smoking and limit the amount of alcohol they drink.

What is an antioxidant and why is important to heart health? To really understand what an antioxidant is we need to first understand oxidation. Oxidation quite simply is the loss of electrons when two or more substances interact. You can see oxidation take place when you cut into an apple and leave it sitting out. Oxidation can be seen by the browning of the white meat of the apple. Oxidation can also be seen in the rusting of metals. Now that we understand a little about what oxidation is we can move on to an antioxidant. Antioxidants slow down the oxidative damage that is produced naturally. When the cells of our body use oxygen they naturally produce free radicals. These free radicals can cause cell damage. Antioxidant act as free radical scavengers and prevent the damaging effects of oxidation. Oxidation has been linked to such problems as heart disease, diabetes, Cancer, macular degeneration and aging. Foods such as carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and kale to name just a few are high in vitamin A and carotids which act as antioxidants. Super foods like oranges, limes, green peppers, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin C also are antioxidants. Of course, the best source of antioxidants is from our food but we can also obtain antioxidants through supplementation.

Oxidation and Heart Disease
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Antioxidants are important for heart disease because oxidation of cholesterol is believed to be the part of the problem of heart disease. According to Science News oxidized lipids play a major role in heart disease. Oxidized lipids are toxic to arterial cells and in vitro test showed that oxidized cholesterol decreases a cells ability to keep out calcium. Too much calcium kills cells and characterizes advanced atherosclerotic lesions (a hardening and narrowing of the artery). Science news went on to report that low density lipoproteins, (the bad cholesterol) will not enter arterial cells until oxidized. Unfortunately oxidized cholesterol does more than just damage the cardiovascular system. Cholesterol that has been oxidized also inflames the arteries and other tissue of the body as well. So it is not cholesterol that is the problem it is oxidized cholesterol. I hope that oxidized cholesterol sticks in your mind with regards to heart disease. We can lower cholesterol all we want but if it is being oxidized the potential for a cardiovascular event (stroke, heart attack) is still very much a threat. That is why you hear of individuals with normal blood cholesterol having a stroke or heart attack. So what is the answer? Well, with regard to oxidized cholesterol again antioxidants in the diet are the key. Second best is supplementation. There are many super fruits on the market today that are powerful antioxidant. Cardio Cocktail, a nutritious supplement for your heart has three powerful antioxidants.