Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the most common interference with healthy aging and long life in the modern world. Here are a number of proactive ideas and tips to help you prevent the problems associated with heart disease. The triad of primary risk factors is smoking (nicotine addiction), high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Even if your parents had high cholesterol or early heart disease, you can override, or at least delay, these influences with a proactive, healthy lifestyle.

There is a cholesterol controversy between integrative medicine and Western-focused doctors. All believe now that inflammation is the key, and oxidation of cholesterol molecules is really the underlying concern. Most docs believe that statin drugs are the answer to CVD troubles, yet PREVENTION is truly the answer. So, let’s take a look at some ideas and actions for preventing these common problems.

1. Maintain your ideal weight as closely as possible. If you smoke, do everything in your power to stop.

2. Minimize your intake of saturated animal fats, especially excessive dairy products, as they seem to raise cholesterol more than other foods. Also avoid hydrogenated oils that clog and stress the cardiovascular system. All of these fats increase both total cholesterol and the harmful form of cholesterol (LDL), especially when oxidized.

3. Minimize your intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods like baked goods, chips, boxed sugared cereals, and other processed foods, as well as the salty snacks from chips to cured meats. These foods contribute to obesity, a leading risk factor for CVD. Avoiding chemical exposure as much as possible will lessen the irritation/inflammation of the blood vessels, believed to be the main starting point of plaque formation and arteriosclerosis of blood vessels, the beginning of cardiovascular disease.

4. Exercise regularly with a balanced program that includes stretching for flexibility, aerobics for endurance, and weight training for strength. This can help to lower body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Exercise also lowers your harmful cholesterol (LDL) and raises your good cholesterol (HDL). And exercise makes your body, mind, and heart happy.

5. Eat more high-fiber, high-nutrient, lower-calorie foods, such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fruits. This diet can help you to live longer.

6. Get good-quality oils by eating nuts and seeds (ideally raw, unsalted, and organic), such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, as well as omega-3 oily fishes that include salmon and sardines (good with green salads). Use olive oil as your main vegetable and cooking oil.

7. Nutritional supplements to consider for protection against cardiovascular disease include: antioxidant vitamins C and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and the B vitamins (especially B-6, B-12, B-3, and folic acid) to maintain normal cholesterol metabolism and minimize homocysteine levels.

8. Special nutrients that can be helpful in preventing and treating early disease include L-carnitine, Co-enzyme Q-10, chromium, and higher levels of niacin, mainly the regular flushing niacin as this may work better to metabolize blood fats, although many people use the non-flushing (but not time-released) inositol hexanicotinate.

9. Learn to manage your stress, let go of anger and frustrations, and communicate your feelings in a safe and non-aggressive way. Practice forgiveness and moving forward in life, still being aware of what you have learned from your life experiences (to avoid repeating mistakes in behavior).

10. Develop close personal relationships that you can count on for support. Continue to expand your ability to give and receive in your friendships/loveships. Love is healing at many levels.

Elson M. Haas, MD

Elson M. Haas, MD is a medical practitioner with nearly 40 years experience in patient care, always with in an interest in natural medicine. For the past 30 years, he has been instrumental in the development and practice of Integrated Medicine at the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (PMCM), which he founded in 1984 and where he is the Medical Director. Dr Haas has been perfecting a model of healthcare that integrates sophisticated Western diagnostics and Family Medicine with time-honored natural therapies from around the world.

This educating, writing doctor is also the author of many books including Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine, 21st Century Edition, The NEW Detox Diet: The Complete Guide for Lifelong Vitality with Recipes, Menus, & Detox Plans and more. Visit his website for more information on his work, books and to sign up for his newsletter.