Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue Let’s Talk Heart Health – It’s For You!

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we often focus on romantic gestures and sweet treats. However, amidst the celebration of love, it’s important not to overlook another vital aspect of our lives – our heart health. This Valentine’s Day, let’s prioritise our heart health by understanding more about heart disease and cholesterol and tips to keep our heart healthy! By prioritising our heart health, we enhance our well-being and cultivate a foundation for lasting love and vitality!

What’s the first image in your head or reaction when you hear the word, ‘Cholesterol’? Most of us imagine blocked arteries and cardiovascular emergencies – a perception that’s been deeply ingrained in our societal understanding. But is this a appropriate perception? Let’s find out…

The Myth Surrounding Cholesterol: The concept attributing dietary cholesterol to elevated blood cholesterol levels, arterial blockages, and cardiovascular ailments originated from the 1950s’ diet-heart hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that cholesterol and saturated fat intake directly lead to heightened cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, while polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) like those present in soybean, corn, canola, and vegetable oils, remain in a liquid state at room temperature and do not contribute to arterial blockages, potentially preventing heart disease.

Accompanying these assertions is the belief that an elevated total cholesterol level, particularly LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, significantly increases the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. However, it’s essential to recognize that these widely held beliefs are not only inaccurate but also overly simplistic. In reality, as per the latest trends and scientific research, they have played a role in exacerbating the current chronic disease epidemic.

Let’s Understand Your Cholesterol Reports…

The idea of LDL being solely ‘bad’ is overly simplified. There are two types of LDL: small dense LDL and large buoyant LDL. While small dense LDL particles can cause damage by puncturing blood vessel linings, large buoyant LDL particles are harmless and may even prevent damage caused by small dense LDL. Therefore, a basic cholesterol test that doesn’t differentiate between these types of LDL cannot accurately predict risk.

What Factors Predict Heart Attack And Stroke?

Low levels of HDL ‘good’ cholesterol, high triglycerides (often indicative of a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates), and elevated levels of small dense LDL are key markers. To truly assess risk, more comprehensive tests are needed.

There are three main important predictors of heart attack and stroke, related to inflammation. Running these tests helps gauge inflammation levels, guiding interventions to reduce the risk of heart disease:

CRP (C-Reactive Protein): Measures inflammation, with levels above 1 mg/L indicating increased risk.

Homocysteine: An inflammatory amino acid associated with heart disease, blood-brain barrier damage, and dementia. The optimal range is below 15 mcmol/L.

Ferritin: Typically used to check iron levels, elevated levels indicate inflammation. Optimal ranges vary by gender and menopausal status.

What Truly Influences Heart Disease?

Cholesterol isn’t the primary culprit behind heart disease – certain dietary components play significant roles in increasing risk. Scientific studies have consistently shown that a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet is not the solution for reducing heart disease risk. Surprisingly, such diets have been found to elevate triglycerides, reduce HDL, and increase levels of small dense LDL and inflammation – all risk factors for heart attacks or strokes.

Preventing Heart Disease – Dietary Strategies

Making simple changes to your diet can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Here are three key adjustments to implement today for a healthier heart:

Opt for Heart-Healthy Fats: Steer clear of inflammatory fats like hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and polyunsaturated industrial seed oils (e.g., corn, vegetable, soy, canola). Instead, focus on consuming heart-healthy fats such as extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, avocados, locally farmed eggs, kefir, homemade or organic ghee, organic butter, nuts and seeds.

Choose Quality Meat: Not all meat is created equal. Opt for grass-fed meat as it’s free from hormones and antibiotics commonly found in factory-farmed meats. Grain-fed cattle produce meat with altered fatty acid ratios, leading to increased inflammation and heart disease risk.

Eliminate Processed Grains And Sugars: Ditch processed grains and refined sugars from your diet to lower your risk of heart disease. Industrialized grains have been genetically modified, refined, and treated with pesticides, compromising their nutritional value and triggering inflammation. Instead, opt for nutrient-dense alternatives like organic quinoa and wild rice. Likewise, reduce your intake of refined sugars, as they can lead to elevated glucose levels, insulin spikes, and chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

By making these dietary changes, you can take proactive steps towards safeguarding your heart health and overall well-being.


Leave a Reply