Clean Up Those Plugged-up Heart Arteries

One hotly debated issue in medicine is whether or not diet changes will actually help clean out the fatty-cholesterol deposits that already exist in the coronary (heart) arteries.

Coronary heart disease (a condition that occurs when the heart arteries become plugged with cholesterol) is responsible for many deaths in our country each year. It is a disease of excess nutrition too much cholesterol and saturated (animal) fat in the diet, too much refined sugar in the diet, and too much animal protein in the diet.

Studies all around the world have clearly shown that there has been a sharp reduction in the health risks of atherosclerosis - heart attacks and strokes - whenever the diet has been changed to one low in cholesterol and animal fat and limited in food energy (calories) so that individuals lost unneeded weight.

That this decrease in heart attacks was due primarily to the diet allowing the fatty-cholesterol deposits to be cleaned out is not clear, at least not in humans. In monkeys, however, it has been demonstrated that the plugging process was reversed when the diet was changed from one high in fat, cholesterol and calories to one low in fat, cholesterol and calories.

Using special techniques, a group of American doctors examined a number of men suffering from atherosclerosis. Each individual had changed his diet so that the amount of cholesterol and fat in the blood had decreased. The blood pressure also decreased. The fatty-cholesterol deposits in their arteries had actually become smaller! This study, along with the results from monkey experiments and trends seen in population groups, suggests that it is possible to reverse atherosclerosis and slow the death rate due to heart disease. It makes good sense to change to a more healthful diet and get more exercise to reduce cholesterol and fats in the blood and to lower blood pressure.

A sensible guide for eating is to select foods from the following six food groups:

1. whole grains, such as wheat, rice, corn and rye

2. legumes (beans and peanuts), nuts, and seeds

3. vegetables, particularly dark green leafy vegetables and root crops like yams, sweet potatoes and carrots

4. fruits

5. vegetable oils and margarine

6. low-fat animal products, such as nonfat milk

Eat for your health. Those plugged-up arteries can be cleaned out!

Health | Nutrition | Respiratory

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