With this February marking American Heart Health month, best-selling author and renowned nutrition expert Jonny Bowden (author of The Great Cholesterol Myth and The Great Cholesterol Myth Cookbook) emphasizes proper nutrition for optimal cardiovascular health.
Surprisingly, most women mistakenly believe that cancer is the No. 1 killer, but they’re wrong—it’s cardiovascular disease. In fact, mortality rates for women show that one out of three deaths of American women this year will be caused by heart disease or stroke. But these stats can be improved significantly.
Bowden brings a healthful dose of clarity and preventive wisdom to the table beyond the CDC’s standard recommendations for controlling risk factors, such as diet, exercise, tobacco, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Check out his tips below and please spread the word!
• Reduce sugar and processed carbohydrates in the diet.
• Stop worrying about fat, including saturated fat. Two major meta-analyses in the last few years have established that saturated fat doesn’t cause heart disease. However, the combination of sugar and fat is a very bad one.
• Do an oil change! Reduce your intake of vegetable oils and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, especially fish oil. The balance between omega-6 (vegetable oil) and omega-3 (fish oil) is one of the most important metrics for human health, and the ideal ratio of these two types of fat in the diet is 1:1. Research shows we consume more than 16 times more (inflammatory) omega-6s than (anti-inflammatory) omega-3s.
• Learn to manage stress. Stress contributes to every disease known to man (including heart disease) and is a tremendous risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
• Get some sun and spend some time outdoors.
• Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, but inflammation does. Foods rich in anti-inflammatories include virtually all vegetables as well as some low-sugar fruits such as apples and berries. And new research shows ‘Bergamot’ citrus to be a powerful balancing agent for the critical triglyceride: HDL radio as well as the lipid profile.
• Supplement wisely. My top recommendations include fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D and, for those with existing heart issues, D-ribose and L-carnitine.
I particularly like two supplements that have wide-ranging, systemic effects on the body—curcumin and resveratrol. They are both in my personal daily regimen. While not usually thought of as a specific “heart” supplement, resveratrol has many benefits that impact heart health—it thins the blood, acts as an antioxidant, is anti-inflammatory, and turns on the SIRT genes (forlongevity). Recent research shows it also improves memory and glucose metabolism. NOTE: The active ingredient in resveratrol is trans-resveratrol, and this is the only part of resveratrol that really matters. As far as I know, Reserveage Nutrition is the only company that makes a 100 percent trans-resveratrol supplement, in doses that are clinically relevant (250 mg and 500 mg).
• Do some kind of exercise every day. For basic heart health and protection, it's hard to beat a daily walk.
• Cultivate nourishing relationships (and not just "Facebook friends"). Friendships, connections and social usefulness have enormously beneficial effects on both the heart and on health in general.
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He is a board-certified nutritionist with a master’s degree in psychology and the author of fourteen books on health, healing, food and longevity, including three best-sellers.