Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases Nutritionally

Keep C-Reactive Protein Low with Anti-inflammatory Foods

Alpha Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Cardiovascular Health
Credit: KathikDimarkar's Photostream

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 Inflammation

 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   Ginger

l  Turmeric

l  Spinach

l  Broccoli

l  Onions

l  Garlic

l  Pineapple

l  Flax seeds

l  Olive oil

l  Canola oil

l  Almonds

l  Cashews

 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