Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases Nutritionally
Keep C-Reactive Protein Low with Anti-inflammatory Foods
Ischemic Heart Disease
Inflammation and C-Reactive Protein
Elevations in blood cholesterol and C-reactive protein are primary risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Most people are aware of the role of cholesterol in cardiovascular health, but they are not very familiar with C-reactive protein or its role in cardiovascular diseases. Some health care experts regard c-reactive protein (CRP) as a more sensitive indicator of cardiovascular health risk than cholesterol. The key points here, however, are to draw attention to these two cardiovascular risk factors and to present some practical approaches for keeping them under control.
Elevation of plasma cholesterol level often leads to atherosclerosis, a common cause of ischemic vascular and heart diseases. Ischemic heart disease is a leading cause of death and morbidity in most industrialized countries. The risk of atherosclerosis and ischemic vascular diseases rises when total cholesterol is elevated and the level of low density lipoprotein (LDL, bad cholesterol) is high relative to the level of the high density lipoprotein (HDL, the good cholesterol).
You can improve your cholesterol profile nutritionally. You can also improve it by making changes in your life style. Increasing the level of physical activity is one significant life style change that improves the cholesterol profile. Good cholesterol profile and healthy cardiovascular system can also be supported by various healthy foods. Inclusion of good oils such as olive oil and alpha omega3- oils in your diet is particularly effective for improving your cholesterol profile. Shown below are some foods and nutrients that would improve your cholesterol profile.
l Olive oil
l Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
l Fish (omega-3 oil-rich fish such as salmon and sardine)
l Seeds such as pumpkin seeds and flax seeds
l Fruits such as papaya and guava
What is C-Reactive Protein?
C-reactive protein is a protein synthesized by the liver in response to injury, infection or inflammation. This protein is normally absent in the blood. Its blood level goes up when there is inflammation or other factor that activates its synthesis. It disappears from the blood when inflammation or the activating factor disappears.
Inflammation is associated with most chronic diseases, ranging from arthritis to hypertension; and from asthma to Alzheimer's disease. Atherosclerotic condition of the blood vessel can be worsened by inflammation. For example, inflammation can cause the rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary artery. This can give rise to ischemic injuries. The presence and extent of inflammation in the body are reflected with significant accuracy by the presence and magnitude of the CRP in the blood. Many clinicians use CRP as a more reliable indicator of pending cardiovascular adverse event(s) compared to blood cholesterol level.
Using C-Reactive Protein for Assessing Cardiovascular Risks
Although CRP is a reliable indicator of the risk for cardiovascular diseases, it is not routinely used for assessing cardiovascular risks. It is used in subjects with poor cholesterol profile and in people who are at risk for cardiovascular diseases. The suitable subjects for CRP diagnosis include people who have already had one or more heart attacks and people who have family histories of heart diseases.
The above approach is inconsistent with the goal of maintaining optimal wellness and preventive health care. This approach relies heavily on the patient's medical history, and this history may be inaccurate. A better approach would routinely measure CRP when ever cholesterol test is performed. Hopefully, this current approach will change as clinicians start to focus more attention on wellness and disease prevention.
Reducing or preventing inflammation is an important step that one can take to prevent cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases. There are significant overlaps in the approaches for reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol profile. For example, physical fitness is one common effective approach for simultaneously reducing inflammation and improving cholesterol profile. Consequently you can formulate efficient strategies for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Reduce Inflammation Nutritionally
Nutrition can be used to reduce inflammation and support cardiovascular health. Inflammation can be reduced by avoiding foods that promote inflammation such as refined carbohydrates, or with diets that are rich in anti-inflammatory foods and nutrients . Ginger and alpha omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods are examples of well-known anti-inflammatory foods. Some of the foods and nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties are shown below.
l Flax seeds
l Olive oil
l Canola oil
Reduce Inflammation by Life Style Changes
Inflammation can also be reduced by lifestyle changes. Exercise is one important change that can lower inflammation. Some of the life-style changes that lower inflammation are:
l Reduction of excess body fat
l Cessation of smoking
l Being physically fit
l Having adequate amounts of sleep