Heart Saver: Protect Yourself From Heart Attacks and Strokes
Many people have been warned by health authorities that the primary cause ofheart disease is an elevated level of cholesterol, due to either a poor diet or, more often, hereditary factors.
This is largely a myth.
An abundance of scientific evidence indicates that cholesterol itself is not the real culprit in heart disease - and in some cases plays no part at all.
Why is this information being kept secret?
Because the food industry and pharmaceutical companies would otherwise stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue, they continue to promote the cholesterol myth.
By changing the types of fats used in food processing, marketing so-called "heart healthy" vegetable oils and selling drugs that lower blood cholesterol levels, these businesses have reaped enormous profits.
Despite all the warnings about "cholesterol" and the proliferation of statin or anti-cholesterol drugs, some 40 million Americans still suffer from heart disease today.
In this edition of the Blaylock Wellness Report I want to shed light on the lies that have been told about heart disease and stroke prevention. Understanding these lies can protect your heart, reduce stroke risk and possibly save your life!
'Healthy' Vegetable Oils Are Usually Dangerous
Atherosclerosis is the scientific name for the process responsible for hardening of the arteries - the condition that leads to heart attacks and strokes.
Back in the 1930s, studies indicated that elevated levels of cholesterol might cause accumulations of crud in arteries, thus hardening them.
Corn oil was used in these studies to dissolve the cholesterol so that the test animals could eat it, and today, corn oil is even promoted as a cholesterol-lowering oil.
But the irony here is that polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn oil are easily oxidized and produce rancid oils, much like rancid milk.
When oxidized, these oils trigger inflammation and create free radicals. Both free radicals and chronic inflammation have been shown to cause atherosclerosis!
So remember, the chemical composition of polyunsaturated fats found in many vegetable oils oxidizes rapidly, causing inflammation and free radical production.
Research today shows that these early researchers mistakenly assumed it was the cholesterol causing the problem when the corn oil itself was the real cause.
In fact, only when cholesterol is oxidized does it have any relationship to atherosclerosis. When oxidized, cholesterol becomes highly irritating to tissues, including those making up the walls of blood vessels.
So the "healthy" vegetable oils being touted - such as corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower and canola - are contributing to the oxidation of cholesterol.
LDL Cholesterol Is the Real Worry
The news media and many doctors imply that only one cholesterol value is important - total cholesterol. If your total cholesterol level is above 200, most doctors will tell you to take a cholesterol-lowering medication.
But cholesterol comes in many sizes and shapes.
High-density lipoprotein cholesterol, known as HDL cholesterol and sometimes called "good" cholesterol, has been shown to protect against atherosclerosis.
Until recently, assumptions were made that low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol and very low-density lipoprotein, also known as VLDL, cholesterol played major roles in atherosclerosis.
Doctors have confirmed that some studies show high levels of LDL cholesterol to be a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
But recent studies suggest that at least two types of LDL cholesterol inhabit a person's body.
One is a larger molecule and is difficult to oxidize, much like HDL cholesterol, which is considered protective.
Also found is a smaller, dense LDL cholesterol molecule that is very easy to oxidize; consequently, it appears to be the only form of cholesterol associated with atherosclerosis.
As a result, this dense LDL type of cholesterol is the only one that can contribute to atherosclerosis and it is considerably limited.
Thus, what matters in your blood evaluation is the amount of small, dense LDL cholesterol, not the total amount of cholesterol.
For example, if a person's total cholesterol level is 235 mg/dl but less than 20 mg/dl of this consists of small, dense LDL cholesterol and is mostly the large-type LDL cholesterol, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is not elevated.
If a significant portion consists of HDL cholesterol, again the risk will be quite low.
Please remember: Total cholesterol levels reveal very little about risk.
Statistically, when looking at a large number of people having high total cholesterol, the risk will be elevated simply because the odds are that a higher proportion of the total cholesterol will consist of the small, dense LDL cholesterol.
Yet this does not tell you your individual risk. This is why testing must include a breakdown of the various types of cholesterol.
Theses test are available to all doctors. Ask for them.
Viruses and Infections Cause Heart Attacks
A considerable amount of evidence indicates that atherosclerosis is caused by chronic inflammation, which often begins very early in life.
Atherosclerosis has been seen even in babies. One famous study of young soldiers - average age about 20 - who died in the Korean War found that over half had significant atherosclerosis in their coronary arteries and aortas.
The dispute among experts is what causes the inflammation.
One theory holds that bacteria and viruses may cause this inflammation.
So far, several organisms have been discovered to invade the walls of blood vessels, ignite inflammation and therefore accumulate crud along the vessel walls.
These include Chlamydia pneumonia, Helicobacter pylori and a herpes virus called cytomegalovirus. All of these can occur as silent chronic infections.
In addition, several studies have found a strong relationship between a common bacterium causing gum disease and atherosclerosis. In fact, the same bacterium has been cultured from the crud, or plaque, seen in arteries.
A new organism also may play a role: the nanobacterium.
Nanobacterium is smaller than most viruses and can live within the calcium deposits in atherosclerotic crud. It also grows in the mouth and produces dental plaque. What all of these organisms have in common is that they live inside cells and therefore can hide from the body's immune system.
It is the battle between the bacteria/viruses and the immune system, which is in perpetual action to destroy the invaders, that begins the process of atherosclerosis.
When a bacterium or virus invades the body, the immune system sends in its special cells to kill the invaders. One team of special cells, macrophages, does this by releasing a burst of free radicals that destroy the germs long before cholesterol makes its appearance.
This battle at the cellular level between the immune system and the infectious organisms causes great damage and plays a major role in atherosclerosis.
As with any infection, especially one that continues for decades, the body tries to seal off the infection. It does this by building a fibrous wall around the battle zone. Over time, this wall can also contain calcium deposits, and as this battle progresses, LDL cholesterol enters the injured blood vessel wall and oxidizes.
The oxidized LDL cholesterol becomes a very irritating substance, causing inflammation.
White blood cells attempt to rid the body of the cholesterol by gobbling it up like a Pac-Man, but some of these cells become so stuffed with the oxidized cholesterol that they burst, adding to the inflammation.
Immune cells then secrete a number of caustic chemicals that cause intense inflammation. Because the immune cells cannot rid the area of the microorganisms, the immune attack continues over decades.
Recent evidence indicates that other factors may be the cause of the inflammation that starts atherosclerosis.
For example, lead, mercury, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and fluoride can also cause the same set of inflammatory reactions in blood vessels.
Population studies show a statistical association between higher cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Cholesterol has been singled out as the culprit, because examinations revealed that the crud caused by the inflammation contained cholesterol crystals and investigators assumed that cholesterol was the root of the problem.
But later studies show that the fats in the crud were up to 75 percent polyunsaturated fats. These fats, widely found in vegetable oils, are the very type of fats being promoted to prevent atherosclerosis!
Saturated Fats Are the Good Guys
Because the cholesterol theory has held sway over researchers, dieticians and cardiologists for so many years, dietary recommendations for the public followed suit.
A mad scramble ensued to rid the diet of cholesterol-containing foods such as eggs, animal fats and even saturated vegetable fats (such as coconut oil and palm kernel oil).
Some studies indicated that certain animal fats could increase cholesterol levels and therefore, according to the theory, should increase risk. Similarly, a reduction of such animal fats should, in theory, lead to a reduction of risk.
By 1910 vegetable oils replaced animal fats because they were cheaper and more accessible.
But a problem ensued - most people did not want liquid oils. As a remedy the food industry hydrogenated the vegetable oil. By adding these hydrogen atoms, unsaturated vegetable oils were converted into saturated oils and were solid like animal fats or lard.
In response to researchers pinpointing hydrogenated vegetable oils as the cause of the epidemic of heart disease, the food industry then created partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. This was even worse.
By 1965, the American Heart Association encouraged the public to consume partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. At the same time, the AHA removed negative statements about trans fatty acids even though research had found that they played a major role in the increase of atherosclerosis.
Trans fatty acids are formed by partially hydrogenating vegetable oils. They are, essentially, a synthetic fat that is not accepted well by the body.
The controversy continued, and by the 1980s a virtual war broke out, with the soybean lobby opposing the use of healthy tropical oils such as coconut and palm kernel oil.
Though soybeans produce polyunsaturated fats, which are major contributors to heart attacks and strokes, the media blasted the American public with reports that tropical oils were dangerous because they raised cholesterol levels, while numerous studies show quite the opposite.
Once again, the food industry followed the media's lead and led Americans down the wrong path.
The American Soybean Association capitalized on the fear initiated by the cholesterol theory and distributed a "Fat Fighter Kit" to soybean farmers encouraging them to write their congressmen, food regulators and food companies to protest the use of dangerous tropical oils.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest took part in the media blitz and supported the ASA's claims.
The tropical oil market was shattered and the American public was convinced to consume polyunsaturated vegetable oils including those derived from soy, which actually promote heart attacks and strokes.
Health officials, scientists and experts on oils and fats attempted to inject some truth into the barrage of media reports by showing that some of the tropical oils, such as coconut and palm kernel oil, are actually powerful inhibitors of atherosclerosis.
A study of the health and dietary habits of natives living in the Pacific islands by nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price shows those who ate the traditional diets rarely suffered from heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and other degenerative diseases.
Their diet consisted of large amounts of saturated fat - fat from the coconut, such as coconut milk, meat and oils. They also ate a large amount of omega-3 oils from fish, as well as fruit flavonoids.
Interestingly, Dr. Price found that the natives had almost perfect teeth, despite the fact that they never brushed, flossed or used mouthwash. In fact, the tooth decay rate for the islanders eating a traditional diet was substantially less than those eating a Western diet.
Despite claims that coconut oils are bad for people, recent studies show coconut oils being used in hospitals for gravely ill adult patients, as well as for infants.
Despite propaganda by the ASA, palm oil (oil from the palm plant) contains a very powerful group of antioxidant components of vitamin E, known as tocotrienols, which has been reported to protect against atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
Trans Fatty Acids: Check Your Food Labels
A recent study in the 2004 issue of the Journal of Nutrition illustrates the severity of having a high trans fatty acid level in the body.
Fat tissue from 79 participants who had had heart attacks was compared to matched controls free of the disease.
Those who had the highest trans fatty acid levels in their fat tissue had more than two times the risk of developing a heart attack than those with the lowest levels.
Trans fatty acids are created when polyunsaturated fats are hydrogenated in a food processing plant. Because trans fatty acids are not found in nature, they interfere with normal metabolism.
It is important to realize that fat does more than make your feet disappear. Fats form many of our hormones, allow our cells to communicate, make up cell membranes, compose 60 percent of the brain and enhance immunity, just to name a few of their benefits.
Interfering with fat metabolism can have devastating consequences. Fortunately, stopping the consumption of trans fatty acids quickly reverses their harmful effects.
The amount of trans fatty acids in processed food has increased enormously over the past 20 years. Trans fatty acids can be found in abundance in items throughout the supermarket - including cakes, pies and other processed foods. Here are some of the adverse effects of trans fatty acids:
Lowered HDL (good cholesterol)
Elevated LDL (bad cholesterol)
Increased lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)] - a heart attack and stroke risk factor
Elevated total cholesterol
Interference with mother's milk production
Increased risk of diabetes (insulin resistance)
Lowered testosterone in males and increased abnormal sperm
Production of essential fatty acid deficiency
Increased risk of heart attacks and strokes
Increased risk of asthma attacks in children
Studies have shown that the amount of these harmful fats in processed foods can be as high as 45 percent of the fat content.
The amount of these polyunsaturated fats in processed foods has increased 800 percent since 1982, mainly because of the propaganda published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which claims itself to be the watchdog for our food supply.
Fortunately, health officials and researchers are exposing the truth.
Heart Tests: CRP More Important Than Cholesterol
One of the big secrets of the cardiology world is that elevated cholesterol plays no part in over 50 percent of heart attacks and strokes.
Recent studies have shown that four factors play a major role in risk in these individuals: lipoprotein(a), C-reactive protein, homocysteine and fibrinogen.
Your doctor can test all of these factors with a blood test. Any doctor worth his salt will test you for these.
The presence of any of these in elevated levels means increased risk of a heart attack or stroke even when the cholesterol is low.
Should more than one of the factors be elevated - for example, C-reactive protein (CRP) and homocysteine - your risk will be even greater and you most likely will face a heart attack or stroke at an early age.
When you have your physical, you should ask your doctor to do a complete cholesterol check that includes all the types of cholesterol, including both types of LDL cholesterol, HLD levels and all of the independent risk factors, specifically the ones noted above.
This will give you the most accurate picture of your risk.
It also should be understood that, despite what your doctor may say, an elevated CRP is a better predictor of heart attack and stroke risk than is the LDL cholesterol level.
This is because chronic inflammation is the cause of atherosclerosis and not high levels of LDL cholesterol.
In addition, even normal levels of homocysteine in the upper range can substantially raise your risk.
The Japanese Miracle
The companies making huge profits from the soybean trade would have you believe that the Japanese have such a drastically low risk for heart attacks and strokes because of their consumption of soy.
In fact, the average Japanese eats only two tablespoons of soy a day. A new study indicates that other, more important dietary factors play a role.
Japanese people who ate a traditional Asian diet compared with third- and fourth-generation Japanese living in Hawaii who ate a Western diet had higher blood pressure, higher total cholesterol, and smoked significantly more than their Hawaiian counterparts. Much to researchers' surprise, they also had drastically lower cardiovascular disease.
How did their diets differ?
The Japanese living in Japan ate more omega-3 oils (fish oils) and less saturated animal fats and total fats than the Japanese living in Hawaii.
Remember, the traditional Japanese diet has one of the highest intakes of flavonoids (from fruits, vegetables and teas) of any population on earth. These flavonoids have been shown to play a major role in protecting against heart disease, strokes, cancer and degenerative brain diseases.
Flavonoids have been found to powerfully inhibit some of the most damaging of the free radicals (even those not neutralized by traditional antioxidant vitamins), reduce inflammation and protect LDL cholesterol from oxidizing.
Clinical studies have shown that a high intake of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce heart attack and stroke risk. This does not include frozen or canned vegetables and fruits.
They must be fresh and consist of mostly high-density nutrients, such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, blueberries, squash and other deeply colored vegetables and fruits.
Further, more recent studies have shown that unprocessed coconut contains important flavonoids that add significantly to this protective effect.
Coconut and palm kernel oils contain one of the highest levels of medium-chain fatty acids (these are the good type, which are quickly burned for energy) of any of the oils. Soybean contains none of these fatty acids.
These special oils have been shown to enhance immunity and inhibit cancer growth, and are not stored as fats but are burned for energy. In other words, they don't make you fat, they make you healthy.
Your Heart Weapon: Fish Oils
A tremendous number of studies performed on both animals and humans clearly demonstrate that a higher content of omega-3 fats in the diet significantly reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes and lowers triglyceride levels. Triglyceride is a fat that causes the blood to easily form blood clots.
Perhaps the sudden rise in blood triglycerides following a high-fat meal is why so many people suffer a sudden heart attack or stroke right after eating.
Omega-3 oils also thin the blood, improve the strength of the heart muscle, improve blood flow through arteries, reduce inflammation and improve immunity.
One especially important effect is preventing arrhythmias, or irregular heart beats. This is a leading cause of death among heart attack victims. Magnesium, when combined with omega-3 oils, adds tremendous protection as well.
One study shows that eating fish just once a week can reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death by 52 percent, perhaps due to omega-3 oils' anticoagulant properties and ability to prevent arrhythmias.
I would not recommend eating seafood because of the high content of mercury, especially in crustaceans like shrimp, crab and lobster. Rather, take high-quality omega-3 supplements, but not in the form of gelatin capsules since they are high in fluoride and glutamate and considered a high-risk product for mad cow disease.
Another way to get your omega-3 oils is by eating eggs from chickens fed a diet high in these oils.
Christopher Egg Company has the highest levels of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Other brands include Gold Circle Farms, Pilgrim's Pride and The Country Hen.
Two eggs a day will supply the full complement of omega-3 oils for adults. In addition, eggs contain phospholipids that are essential for the brain. Ignore warnings about high cholesterol in eggs; the brain needs cholesterol for normal function.
Newer studies have shown that the component parts of omega-3 fats have differing effects.
The omega-3 fats are composed of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), not to be confused with DHEA, a hormone substance. EPA mainly improves blood flow through blood vessels by slightly thinning the blood, much like taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Unlike aspirin's side effects, omega-3 does not injure the stomach or cause hearing damage.
The DHA component increases blood levels of a heart-protecting form of HDL cholesterol.
All the anti-cancer and brain protecting effects of omega-3 oils come from this component. Additionally, DHA has no negative effects on type 2 diabetes, as does EPA. DHA can be purchased as a powder, and the whole omega-3 oil can be purchased as a liquid. In fact, a pleasant-tasting form called Coramega is available for children.
Key Tips for Your Heart HealthIron
The most prevalent study on human health - the Framingham Study - demonstrates that people with the highest blood iron levels, especially women, had the highest incidence of heart attacks and strokes.
The study confirms that the incidence of vascular disease is usually low in women until they reach menopause.
Previously, it was thought that this was because female hormones, especially estrogens, protected them from atherosclerosis. But the study revealed that female hormones were not the reason; before menopause women did not store iron in their bodies due to menstruation.
After menopause, they began to store iron at a very rapid rate. Men are at a risk because they accumulate iron soon after puberty.
Further conformation came from studies that found that individuals who gave blood once every six months to a year have significantly lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.
In addition, individuals with the disease hemochromatosis, characterized by storage of huge amounts of iron in the tissues, have a very high risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes at an early age. And experimentally, injecting animals with iron accelerates the development of atherosclerosis.
The reason iron causes atherosclerosis is that it triggers a tremendous generation of free radicals, leading to damage to blood vessels and oxidation of LDL cholesterol. It also dramatically increases inflammation.
Infectious microorganisms love iron and thrive when it is present in increased amounts.
Vitamin C greatly increases iron absorption and should not be taken with meals, since the major source of iron is red meat.
Flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and teas inhibit iron absorption, even from red meats. This is why meals should contain plenty of fresh vegetables. The inhibition of iron is not complete, except for teas; drinking tea with every meal can lead to anemia in some individuals. Avoid cooking in iron skillets as well. The iron leaches out of the skillet into the foods.
Most of us have been told at one time or another that we should exercise to prevent heart disease and strokes. But exercise also has many other health advantages.
Exercise increases the antioxidant enzymes that protect us from a number of diseases, including atherosclerosis. In addition, it improves blood flow, protects the brain against degeneration, increases alertness and mental acuity, improves memory, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of diabetes, improves lung function, strengthens immunity and inhibits depression.
One study found that the least fit men were six times more likely to die from a heart attack than the most fit men. Yet an increasing number of studies show that excessive exercise is actually bad for you and can greatly increase disease, even brain disorders.
Careful studies have shown that this is because exercise increases free radical generation and lipid peroxidation, both of which are associated with most diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
During exercise, especially extreme exercise, the body's metabolism is dramatically increased. Since the major source of free radicals in the body is metabolism, the higher metabolism, the greater the generation of free radicals.
Based on these studies, exercise physiologists are warning intense athletes that they should take a higher amount of antioxidants than less active people. Unfortunately, vitamin-based antioxidants, such as vitamins C, E and the carotenoids, do not neutralize some of the more destructive free radicals.
Magnesium plays a significant role in more than 300 enzymes in the body and has been show to be as effective as statin drugs in preventing heart attacks and strokes. That is why extreme athletes are told to take magnesium.
Case studies point out that marathon runners require at least six months to replace the amount of magnesium lost in a single marathon race. Magnesium is vital as it prevents inflammation, improves blood flow through blood vessels, thins the blood, acts as an antioxidant, and prevents coronary artery spasm.
Most of us do not drink enough water, especially pure water. And most people do not realize just how harmful tap water is.
Most municipal drinking water contains organochlorine compounds, fluoride, aluminum, industrial chemicals and some microorganisms. All of these are harmful to health and when combined can produce serious health problems.
Last month's newsletter on fluoride disclosed that when fluoride mixes with aluminum in the concentrations found in drinking water, a powerful brain toxin is created.
Fluoride, aluminum and lead all accumulate in blood vessels and trigger the formation of free radicals, the very process that causes atherosclerosis.
When combined with high iron levels, LDL cholesterol is even easier to oxidize. In addition, well-hydrated blood helps prevent artery spasm, which can cause sudden cardiac death.
We should be drinking at least two 12-ounce glasses of pure water three times a day with meals and two more between meals. This means purified water, but not the water in plastic containers. While this water is superior to tap water, it does contain xenoestrogens from the plastic, which have been linked to increased breast cancer rates in women and prostate cancer in men. Opt for harder-grade plastic (about 5 to 7), as it releases far fewer xenoestrogens.
A solution is to use a reverse osmosis filter. The filters are expensive and must be changed every three months, but most contaminants and fluoride will be removed.
Avoid Smoking and Smoke-Filled Places
Second-hand smoke has been shown to significantly increase free radical generation and lipid peroxidation in non-smokers.
For more than 40 years, we have known that smoking dramatically increases the risk of atherosclerosis with its associated increased heart attack and stroke risk. Some of the worst atherosclerosis I have seen at autopsy has been in smokers. Therefore, seek fresh air.
We cannot avoid stress, and avoiding all stress is actually harmful. Intermittent stress has been shown in carefully conducted studies to actually strengthen the body.
It is chronic, unrelieved stress that causes harm. In fact, stress has been shown to increase free radical generation in many tissue of the body, especially the brain. Knock off one day a week and relax. Doing so allows the body and mind to regenerate.
If you think you can eat junk foods all day, take a few supplements and avoid the risk of disease, you are deluding yourself.
Most disease is the result of years of poor nutrition. It is rare for a disease to just suddenly appear. In most cases, decades of nutritional abuse sets the foundation for the eventual disaster.
The typical American diet is a nutritional wasteland, high in bad fats, soaked with sugar and harmful carbohydrates, and contaminated with excitotoxins and other dangerous food additives.
As a nation, we eat this junk every day of our lives. Restaurants shell out some of the least nutritious foods known, most of which contain deadly additives, bad fats and sugar.
The only way to maintain health is to buy organic or at least locally grown foods. This should include fresh fruits and vegetables, grass-fed animals (free of antibiotics and hormones) and very few grains. Yes, very few grains. Studies show that grains contain a substance called phytate that tightly binds minerals, robbing the body of its nutrition.
The late Dr. Robert Atkins, whose Atkins' Diet still garners widespread attention, forced nutritional scientists to re-examine some of their most closely held beliefs, primarily that fats cause heart disease and strokes.
Recent studies have shown that his high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet lowered cholesterol and corrected other blood lipid profiles. We knew that high-carbohydrate diets increased triglycerides and that elevated triglycerides increased the risk of sudden coronary thrombosis (a heart attack). Other harmful effects of high-carbohydrate diets are now appearing, including an increase in the risk of cancer and degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.
While I discourage the eating of red meats in general, I would make special exception in the case of grass-fed beef in which no hormones or antibiotic were used. Eat red meats with at least several servings of vegetables to reduce the cancer risk associated with red meat consumption.
Remember to avoid foods in aluminum cans, aluminum cookware, iron skillets and Teflon-coated cookware (when heated, Teflon releases toxic fluoride compounds, thus associated with the "Teflon flu"). Use only stainless steel or glass cookware. Avoid all products containing MSG, soy extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, aspartame (NutriSweet, Equal) and Splenda.
Here are a few supplements to help reduce atherosclerosis, heart attack and strokes.
Vitamin E has been recognized for more than 50 years as a supplement that could prevent heart attacks. It is a principal antioxidant for LDL cholesterol and works much better if vitamin C is also present. Vitamin C helps prevent the vitamin E from becoming oxidized itself, making it always ready to protect against LDL.
Vitamin E has been shown to do a lot more than just act as an antioxidant. It is anti-inflammatory, inhibits platelets from becoming sticky, slightly thins the blood, prevents inflammatory cells (macrophages) from sticking to the artery wall, inhibits overgrowth of smooth muscle cells in the artery wall, and stimulates antioxidant enzymes - all things that prevent atherosclerosis.
Some studies have shown little protection with vitamin E, which led to news stories of the vitamin's ineffectiveness. The truth is that the wrong form of vitamin E was used.
The most commonly sold form of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol acetate, a very ineffective and poorly absorbed form of vitamin E. In addition, most are dissolved in vegetable oil.
The type of vitamin E you should take is natural vitamin E, which is a mixture of four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Take 400 to 800 IU of mixed tocopherols a day, but not in a gelatin capsule. Either remove the vitamin E from the capsule by puncturing it with a safety pin or buy liquid forms of vitamin E. Gelatin, high in fluoride and glutamate, is considered a product at high-risk for mad cow disease.
Vitamin C strengthens the walls of blood vessels, acts as an antioxidant, reduces excitotoxicity, supplies energy to heart muscle, prevents the toxicity of homocysteine and inhibits infections.
An early study found that those with the highest intake of vitamin C had an 80 percent reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke. More recent studies confirm that vitamin C plays a major role in protection against atherosclerosis.
I would recommend vitamin C as ascorbate (calcium or magnesium ascorbate), 1,000 mg three times a day, taken between meals to prevent excess iron absorption. This form is also referred to as buffered vitamin C.
There is no need to take the expensive Ester C forms, since they add nothing of value.
Aged Garlic Extract
Garlic is one of the few supplements shown to actually reverse atherosclerosis. This was done by measuring the size of the opening in blood vessels of actual patients over a long period of time.
Aged garlic extract is a special extract in which the garlic is aged for months. It is the most effective form against cancer and effective against atherosclerosis as well.
Garlic is known to slightly thin the blood, is a powerful antioxidant, prevents platelet stickiness, is anti-inflammatory and, most important, is a powerful antibiotic against viruses and bacteria.
Take two capsules of aged garlic extract once a day for prevention and two capsules twice a day for those at highest risk or those with existing coronary or carotid disease.
Because it is an anticoagulant, you should not combine it with aspirin, other anticoagulant medications, Ginkgo biloba, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
Flavonoids are complex chemicals found in all fruits and vegetables.
Dark green, yellow and other highly colored fruits and vegetables contain some of the most powerful flavonoids, even though some have no color.
These chemicals are some of the most powerful and versatile antioxidants. In addition, they are anti-inflammatory, lower blood sugar, protect cholesterol from oxidizing, prevent cancer, improve blood flow, block excessive iron and copper absorption and inhibit certain enzymes associated with atherosclerosis.
Diets high in fruits and vegetables dramatically lower cardiovascular disease risk, studies show. For every additional three servings of fruits and vegetables (up to six servings) scientists found a 22 percent reduction in stroke risk.
Other key studies conveying the importance of flavonoids include:
Tufts University found that high C-reactive proteins (CRP), the major marker for disease risk, was highest in those eating the least amounts of fruits and vegetables. In addition, they had the highest homocysteine levels, another powerful independent risk factor, far more so than cholesterol levels.
The study also indicated that those people with the highest intake of fruits and vegetables were 65 percent less likely to have a high CRP and 54 percent less likely to have elevated homocysteine levels. A further analysis found that for each vegetable eaten there was a 21 percent lower incidence of high CRP and 17 percent lower risk of high homocysteine. It is known that people with hypertension, diabetes and obesity have chronically higher levels of CRP.
The French study, the CARDIO2000 Case-Control, looked at 700 men and 148 women as compared to a normal control population and discovered that those eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day had an incredible 72 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease (heart attack risk) as compared to those who ate only one vegetable a day. In fact, eating five or more vegetables three times a week versus none lowered risk by 70 percent and reduced coronary risk by 10 percent for every piece of fruit eaten.
Other studies have found that various types of flavonoids, including quercetin, hesperidin, luteolin and kaempferol, can also lower risk. The last two are found in high concentrations in artichoke extract and Ginkgo biloba, and all can be purchased as supplements.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural component of all cells and plays a major role in cell energy production. The heart requires a tremendous amount of energy, so coenzyme Q10 is required in large amounts.
Many medications, stress and high free-radical generation deplete the body of this vital nutrient.
Statin cholesterol-lowering drugs are notorious for depleting CoQ10 from the body, even leading to a fatal disorder. There is considerable worry that the large number of people taking statin drugs will dramatically increase the number of cases of heart failure. A recent study has shown that statins offer no protection to elderly patients and in some actually increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks, as well as cancer rates.
In another study reported in the 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers looked at free-radial generation and inflammation in the heart muscle of people who had a heart attack and found that those who later deteriorated and went into heart failure had the highest free-radial generation and inflammation response.
In addition, their heart muscle CoQ10 and vitamin E levels progressively declined. Combining a number of antioxidants, including flavonoids, magnesium and CoQ10 should dramatically protect against this decline, and several studies indicate that they do. Unfortunately, most cardiologists do not use these treatments but instead rely on drugs.
One additional effect of CoQ10 is that it helps prevent arrhythmias, as do magnesium, carnitine and omega-3 fats.
Like CoQ10, L-carnitine is so vital to heart function that the body has a special mechanism that extracts L-carnitine from the blood and concentrates it in the heart muscle. Low levels of L-carnitine can cause heart failure, and taking it as a supplement can mean the difference between life and death for heart attack victims who show signs of cardiac failure. In addition to its beneficial effects on the heart, it also protects the brain as well.
L-carnitine is a protein and should be taken on an empty stomach, about 45 minutes before a meal. It can be taken at the same time as CoQ10. I would advise only those who have had a heart attack or some other cardiac problem to take L-carnitine. Not that it has any toxicity, because it doesn't; it's just fairly expensive.
Like L-carnitine, this supplement should not be taken with meals, since other amino acids will compete for absorption.
Taurine has been known for a long time to reduce atherosclerosis. More recent studies indicate that it does so by reducing total cholesterol, reducing LDL-cholesterol entry into the walls of blood vessels and reducing lipid peroxidation (the oxidation of fats in the walls of blood vessels).
In addition, taurine prevents thrombosis, the blood clots that actually cause heart attacks and strokes. No adverse effects have been seen in taking taurine. It also has been shown to protect the brain. The suggested dose is 500 mg twice a day.
The importance of magnesium in human health would take up several volumes. An extensive number of studies have shown that magnesium plays a vital role in preventing atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Vegetables contain a lot of magnesium, especially leafy green vegetables. Because most people don't eat enough vegetables and engage in activity known to lower magnesium, many are deficient.
Drinking sodas, doing extreme exercise, taking certain medications such as diuretics, birth control pills and certain anti-diabetic medications, and consuming fluoride are all known to lower magnesium in the body. Heart patients are at special risk because of their disease and their medications. Doctors rarely pay any attention to this.
The best-absorbed forms of magnesium (which should be taken with food) include magnesium citrate, magnesium citromate and magnesium ascorbate.
Chelated forms (especially magnesium aspartate) should be avoided since they contain an excitotoxin. Magnesium oxide is a commonly sold form, but it can be poorly absorbed, resulting in diarrhea. Diarrhea is a good sign that you are not absorbing your supplement very well.
Oral magnesium is safe except in those with impaired kidney function or varying degrees of heart block. In these cases, you should seek the recommendation of your physician. The suggested dose is 500 mg twice a day, as magnesium builds up slowly in your tissues and it may take months for it to be completely restored.
Because most foods are so depleted in nutrients, I think people should supplement, especially if you have a pre-existing disease. Key vitamins include:
vitamin B6, pyridoxine (also as pyrodoxal-5-phosphate), 25 to 50 mg vitamin B12, 1,000 ug (methylcobalamin, not cyanocobalamin folate, 800 ug
Make sure the capsule is a vegetarian-based powder in a capsule, and not gelatin. The minerals should not contain iron or copper over 1 mg.
Other Things to Do.
Avoid more than two cups of coffee a day, even decaffeinated. A good substitute is tea, but because tea is high in fluoride you should add calcium oxide 500 mg to each cup to neutralize the fluoride.
Avoid eating chocolate regularly. Chocolate contains a high amount of copper.
Avoid colloidal minerals. They contain aluminum, lead and mercury.
Do not allow your dentist to fill your teeth with mercury amalgam. Use ceramic instead. If you have mercury-containing fillings, have them removed by a dentist trained in safe removal.
Do not take the flu vaccine. It contains mercury and aluminum. A recent study found that people who take the flu vaccine for five years in a row have a 1,000 percent increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. (See the first newsletter on vaccine dangers.
Pearl of the Month: A recent study found that people taking the hepatitis B vaccine were three times more likely to develop multiple sclerosis within three years after taking the vaccine. Yet vaccine policy makers still recommend the vaccine. I guess they think multiple sclerosis is just a minor side effect. Combined with the study revealing a 1,000 percent increase in Alzheimer's disease in those getting the flu vaccine three to five years in a row, we need to question the wisdom of taking these vaccines.
Fats and Oils
Vegetable Oils: There are numerous vegetable oils used for cooking, such as corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, canola oil and soybean oil. These oils are extracted from various vegetables. Canola oil contains a mixture of saturated and polyunsaturated fats, whereas the other oils are mostly polyunsaturated fats. These fats, called omega-6 fats, are harmful when eaten in excess. Most baked goods, breads, cakes, pastries and chips are made with these oils.
Animal Fats: These are all saturated fats, harmful because they accumulate toxins from the environment such as industrial chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and mercury.
Trans Fatty Acids: These are artificial fats created when polyunsaturated oils are partially hydrogenated; very bad for you.
Tropical Oils: These are from tropical plants like the coconut and palm trees.
Soy Oil: This oil is from the soybean and is polyunsaturated. It is bad for your health.
Coconut Oil: This oil is saturated and does not produce atherosclerosis. Both coconut and palm oils have high concentrations of medium-chain fatty acids. Burned for energy and not stored as fats, they also enhance immunity and reduce the risk of cancer.
Olive Oil: Olive Oil is a good vegetable oil. It is graded according to how carefully the oil is extracted. Extra virgin olive oil is extracted at a lower temperature in a press. This preserves the flavonoids in the olive, making the oil much healthier. Extra virgin olive oil has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, as well as lower the risk of cancer.
Fish Oils: These oils are either extracted from fish, especially the larger cold-water, ocean fish, or from algae. Fish in fact get their omega-3 oils from eating algae. These oils are also polyunsaturated, but unlike the polyunsaturated vegetables oils (omega-6 oils), reduce atherosclerosis risk, improve immunity, improve blood flow and are essential for normal brain function.
It is important to buy highly purified omega-3 oils and not take it in gelatin capsules. When highly purified, omega-3 oils have no bad taste and can be taken as a liquid.
Your Medical Exam
With your blood work, ask your doctor to give you:
1. A complete breakdown of your cholesterol, specifically the measure of the two types of LDL cholesterol large, buoyant LDL and small, dense LDL. High levels of LDL cholesterol, especially when mostly of the small, dense type, indicate a significant risk of heart attack and stroke, whereas high levels of HDL cholesterol reduce heart attack and stroke risk. LDL levels should be below 100 mg/dl and mostly composed of the larger molecule. The small, dense LDL level should be less than 20 mg/dl.
HDL cholesterol levels should be over 55 mg/dl. The higher the level, the greater the protection. This should be mostly of the HDL2 type, which should be greater than 15 mg/dl.
2. Lipoprotein(a). This is a hereditary factor. If your fathers or mothers level, for example, was high, yours will also likely be high. Some studies have shown that an elevated Lp(a) increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke by 70 percent. Levels should be less than 10 mg/dl.
3. C-reactive protein. This test is more indicative of heart and stroke risk than cholesterol. This test measures inflammation, a key factor in atherosclerosis. The most accurate test is the highly sensitive CRP, called hs-CRP. Your level should be less than 1.69 mg/l.
4. Homocysteine. This measures a breakdown product found during the metabolism of the amino acid methionine. Even levels that are in the higher ranges of normal put you at a high risk of a stroke or heart attack. Your level should be between 4.72 and 7.0 umol/L.
5. Fibrinogen. This tests measures how easily your blood coagulates. A high level means your blood clots very easily, increasing your risk of a heart attack. Your level should be between 180 and 350 mg/dl.
About Dr. Blaylock
Dr. Russell Blaylock edits NewsMax.com's The Blaylock Wellness Report. He is a nationally recognized board certified neurosurgeon, health practitioner, author and lecturer.
He attended the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed his internship and neurosurgical residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina.
For the past 26 years he has practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice.
He recently retired from his neurosurgical practice to devote full time to nutritional studies and research. Dr. Blaylock has authored three books on nutrition and wellness, including Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, and his most recent work, Natural Strategies for The Cancer Patient. An in-demand guest for radio and television programs, he lectures widely to both lay and professional medical audiences on a variety of nutritional subjects.
Dr. Blaylock serves on the editorial staff of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association and is the associate editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
He recently retired as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi and now serves as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Biology Belhaven College.
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