Coronary heart disease includes angina, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest. Many nutrients have been shown to reduce these, including vitamin E, alpha-linolenic acid, folic acid, vitamins C, B6 and B12, unsaturated fats, fruit and vegetables, dietary fiber, whole grains, nuts, alcohol, fish oils and magnesium.
Even today in the twenty-first century, heart disease statistics are frightening: In a study performed in the UK in 1991, 48% of everyone who had a heart attack died within 30 days. Half of those who died had NO prior symptoms – the first warning that they had heart disease was the last! Sadly, this is especially the case when young people have a heart attack. If half of heart attacks are fatal, then waiting until one develops symptoms is much too late for many people. Prevention, therefore, is essential, and good nutrition is a very powerful part of prevention.
Some of the reductions are truly remarkable. These results suggest that relatively simple and inexpensive changes in nutrient intake can dramatically reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, which continues to kill almost one third of the populations of most Western countries.
Sudden unexpected death (cardiac arrest) is very common with heart disease. Many of us have friends, colleagues and even family members who simply dropped dead and who never had the opportunity to reach the high-tech facilities in our hospitals which may have saved them. Because of these horrifying figures prevention is far more effective than waiting until symptoms appear and then starting treatment.
Here are some of the studies showing how coronary heart disease can be affected by nutrition and supplementation:
• Women in the Nurses Study who took vitamin E for short periods shoed almost no benefits; however, when they took it for more than 2 years, the risk of coronary disease was reduced by 41%.
• The USA Male Health Professional Study: 44,000 male doctors and other health professionals were followed for 4 years. Those men who took at least 100iu of vitamin E per day for more than 2 years had 37% less coronary artery disease.
• A study of 11,000 older people aged 67-105 years: taking vitamin E supplements reduced coronary heart disease deaths by 47%, and taking both vitamin C and E by 53%.
• Despite the negative attitude of the medical press, many doctors recommend antioxidant vitamins. USANA Vitamins Proflavanol® C100 is using innovative Nutritional Hybrid Technology to combine two of USANA’s most popular Nutritionals, Proflavanol® and Poly C®, Proflavanol® C100 packs the best of both worlds into a single, powerful pill.
• In a survey of cardiologists in the USA, 44% personally used antioxidant supplements and 37% recommended them to their patients.
• A smaller survey was taken of members of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians: 15% consumed antioxidants and 20% recommended them to their patients. However, when they developed heart disease themselves, 34% of Australasian physicians took antioxidant supplements.
This is one of the few fats our bodies cannot manufacture. This is an omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish and flax seed oils which seems to be beneficial for the optimal function of blood vessels, nerves, skin, hormones and joints.
Women in the Nurse Study who had a high intake of alpha-linolenic acid had 45% fewer heart attacks than those taking only a little or none.
Folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12
These B vitamins help lower the blood homocysteine. High blood homocysteine level is an important risk factor for heart disease. Women in the Nurses Study who took higher doses of folic acid (greater than 700ug/day) had 31% less coronary heart disease. Those who took vitamin B6 (more than 4 mg/day) had a 33% reduction.
Dietary fat intake
We eat four types of fat – saturated fats (animal fats), polyunsaturated fats (vegetable and fish oils), monounsaturated (olive oil) and trans fats (mostly man-made fats). It appears that the trans fats are by far the worst, although most medical authorities recommend also reducing the amount of saturated fat eaten as well.
• Women in the Nurses Study who had high overall fat intakes did not have more heart disease. But looking at the types of fat, there was a difference. Trans fats were the worst – doubling the risk of heart disease to 200%, while saturated fat increased heart disease by 17%. Monounsaturated fat reduced heart disease by 19% and eating more polyunsaturated fat reduced it by 38%.
• Trans fat intake: the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils to produce margarine and shortening produces trans-fatty acids. Women in the Nurses Study who had higher intakes of trans fats had more coronary heart disease. Regular users of margarines for 10 or more years had a 67% increase.
Sugars which are rapidly absorbed into the blood stream cause peaks in blood glucose and insulin. These are called high glycaemic sugars, and have been blamed for obesity, diabetes, and also can aggravate heart disease. Many processed carbohydrates fall into this category: e.g. bread, white rice, sweets, cakes and cookies.
• Women in the Nurses Study who ate high glycaemic foods had more than 2 ½ times the risk of developing coronary heart disease.