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Five Steps to a Healthier Heart
Step 1: Eat five to ten servings per day of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Studies have shown that populations that eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables have half the cardiovascular disease rate of those that don't. So the more fruits and vegetables that you can include in your diet the better. Scientists are discovering new aspects and benefits of foods all the time so although taking supplements like beta-carotene and fiber may be beneficial, they can not give you all the advantages found in a variety of foods.
Step 2: Eat foods high in antioxidants. Supplement your diet with vitamins E and C.
Fruits and vegetables supply many antioxidants but they can also be found in many other foods such as nuts, wheat germ and garlic, and beverages, such as green tea.
Antioxidants protect arteries as well as the heart itself in several ways. They also help prevent the degradation of cholesterol - this is much more harmful than the mere presence of cholesterol in the arteries.
The most important antioxidant is Vitamin E. It is difficult to obtain sufficient amounts of this vitamin to protect against cardiovascular disease from diet alone. So taking a supplement is a good idea. Most experts suggest 400 IU. There is some evidence that natural Vitamin E is preferable to synthetic.
Most nutritionists also suggest supplementing with vitamin C at a dosage of 500mg to 2,000 mg each day, depending on how much you obtained from your diet. As your body cannot store Vitamin C it is best to divide the dose into 2 or 3 equal amounts taken throughout the day.
Step 3: Eat less iron by eating less meat and iron-fortified foods.
Studies have shown that high levels of iron can be harmful to the heart and arteries. Men, over age 20, who have higher levels of stored iron had higher levels of cardiovascular disease. In women increased cardiovascular disease related to stored iron does not become a factor until after age 50, when menopause begins and iron levels rise.
Step 4: Eat plenty of therapeutic nutrients.
Scientists have shown there are many nutrients that can protect arteries and improve cardiovascular health.
Step 5: Keep physically active. Exercising will improve your cardiovascular system. It also uses energy and allows us to eat more of the foods that contain high amounts of therapeutic nutrients.
Disclaimer: The information presented is for information purposes only. It is based on scientific studies or traditional usage. Consult a health care professional before using supplements or making any changes in prescribed medications. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
National Nutrition Month: Raising a Healthier Generation through Diet, Education - USDA.gov (press release) (blog)
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