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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Heart Diseases and Foods

Coronary heart disease is the most common of all heart diseases. It is characterized by blockage in the coronary arteries that result in reduction of blood flows to the heart muscle, depriving it of vital oxygen. The clogging of coronary artery, known as arteriosclerosis, begins with fatty streaks in and under the layer of cells, that line artery walls. Gradually, the streaks are transformed into plaques-fatty scar tissue that bulges into the artery opening, partly choking off blood flow.

If the clot becomes large enough, it can block blood flow, suffocating large patches of cardiac muscle, an event known as a heart attack or angina. Or if a blood vessel to the brain closes off or ruptures, it will result in a stroke. While the exact causes of coronary heart disease are imperfectly understood, certain major risk factors have been identified, including genes, gender, diet, and lifestyle - smoking, exercise, and stress.

Scientific evidence indicates that diet is vital to whether your arteries clog or your heart gives out. Stopping the progression of artery disease in the first place with your diet is foremost in warding off heart attacks and strokes. Even if you already had heart problems, including a heart attack, changing your diet now may prevent future cardiac problems and even halt or reverse arterial damage, helping restore arteries to health.

Foods with anti-heart disease activity can:
Block platelet aggregation (clotting)
Reduce blood vessel constriction
Increase blood flow
Lower fibrinogen (clotting factor)
Increase fibrinolytic (clot-dissolving) activity
Block cell damage from oxygen free radicals
Lower triglycerides
Raise good HDL cholesterol
Makes cell membranes more flexible
Lower blood pressure

However, wrong food choice may do just the opposite of the above.

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