Cardiovascular Concerns

By Robert Thiel, Ph.D., Naturopath

www.healthresearch.com

 

Dr. Thiel runs a clinic in Arroyo Grande, County of San Luis Obispo, California.

 

He can help you or a loved one.  Call 1-805-489-7188 to schedule an appointment.  

 

 

Cardiovascular problems have been the leading or second leading cause of death in Western societies for decades.  Not surprisingly, the treatment of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia are big business in those societies.

 

What may be surprising is that even many mainstream health authorities recognize that for those with high risk factors, high levels of homocystene may be a more imporant determinant of vascular health than high levels of cholesterol (though high cholesterol gets more of the public blame).  Interestingly, homocysteine levels are often inversely related to HDL.  

 

Smoking, inactivity, and obesity are correlated to cardiovascular disease.  But some common assumptions about diet and heart diesase are simply not true.  For example, properly raised eggs do not seem to raise cholesterol for men at all (and for women, only if they eat them daily) and most people with hypertension will not benefit by cutting most salt out of their diet.

 

Any person with interest in cardiovascular health should try to avoid (or at least severely restrict) transfatty acids [1].  These are the hydrogenated fats often found in margarine, french fries, and certain chips.

 

On the other hand, fish consumption has long been associated with a reduction in cardiovascular mortality.  Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids seem to work by reducing circulating levels of triglycerides; reducing platelet aggregation; improving endothelial function; reducing arterial blood pressure; upregulating lipid oxidation and downregulating lipid synthesis; and preventing arrhythmias.  Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are abundant in marine-based animals, while the precursor of EPA, alpha-linolenic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid, is primarily found in soybeans, flaxseed oil and leafy vegetables.  Very high doses of omega-3 fatty acids (>20 g/day) are associated with increased bleeding times, while 2-5 g/day of EPA have not been associated with increased bleeding time.  Increasing intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, especially longer-chain forms found in fish, might improve the general population health at low cost and little risk [2]. 

 

The American Heart Association's now actually has fish oil guidelines that recommend that patients with coronary heart disease take 1 g/day of omega-3 fatty acids containing 180 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 120 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the diet or as a supplement [3].  It should be noted that one disadvantage of heavy fish consumption involves mercury contamination or other environmental pollutants, which may put children, infants of women who are breastfeeding, sensitive individuals, or pregnant women at risk.  Some companies with supplements have the fish oils molecularly distilled to eliminate this problem.

 

Cholesterol

 

When many think of cardiovascular disease, they seem to think about cholesterol, a naturally occuring substance within the body.  Based on work by the research doctors Alice and Fred Ottoboni, it has been written, “Cholesterol, a sterol (steroid alcohol) found only in animal tissue, provides membrane flexibility for every cell in the body.  Without cholesterol, our bodies could not make steroid or sex hormones, vitamin D, bile acids, or other necessary biochemicals.  Cholesterol combined with the proteins that transport it form LCL and HDL (low-density and high-density lipoproteins).  HDL cholesterol is being carried back to the liver and gallbladder for excretion.  LDL cholesterol is moving to the parts of the body that need it.  The Ottobonis say, ‘Because one of these needs is to deposit cholesterol over inflamed arterial lesions, LDL has been labeled ‘bad’.  This designation is unfortunate because the deposition is a mechanism to protect against further damage rather than a cause of damage’.  Nearly every cell of the body produces some cholesterol, but the bulk of it is made in the liver…A diet that restricts cholesterol-containing foods has little effect on cholesterol levels…the Ottobonis concluded that ‘high blood cholesterol and heart attacks do not have a casual relationship, but rather are co-symptoms of an unhealthy dietray regime’…Although other nutritional studies…have reported a correlation between a high-fat diet and heart disease, the Ottobonis criticize many of these studies for focusing soley on fat consumption while ignoring other dietary factors, such as sugar.  These researchers proposed that sugar, not dietary cholesterol, is the real culprit in heart disease…When a diet is high in sugars and starches (both of which break down and produce glucose), the resulting increase in blood glucose levels triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin.  Insulin helps turn excess glucose into body fat and cholesterol.  Because of this sugar-insulin-fat connection, long-term consumption of sugars and starches promote high cholesterol levels, obesity, insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and other risk factors associated with heart disease…The Ottobonnis urge readers to take personal responsibility for their health and to remember, ‘the human body is a very forgiving creature and will respond favorably to good nutrition, even after decades of abuse.  And to keep in mind…there are no drugs that can cure a nutritional disease!’ ” [4].

 

It should be noted that the consumption of refined carbohydrates was linked to cardiovascular disease decades ago by alternative looking doctors [5].  It should also be noted that the low- carbohydrate diet may not be beneficial for those with familial elevated LDL cholesterol.

 

Here is one view on cholesterol lowering statin drugs from a medical doctor, “The statin drugs’ claim to fame is that they lower cholesterol.  But what is the true risk of high cholesterol?  The Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT), one of the most definitive studies on risk factors for heart disease, showed that elevated cholesterol (along with high blood pressure and smoking) increased risk of heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease.  Individuals with cholesterol levels of 275 or higher had a greater risk of death (1.3 percent) than those with levels of 150 or less (.3 percent).  What this really means is that for every 100 people in each group, one more person in the high-cholesterol group would die from heart disease than the low-cholesterol group…To save ten people in the high-cholesterol group compared to the low cholesterol group, you would have to treat 1,000 people with drugs with known toxic side effects that increase death from other causes.  Is this good medicine?  No, its insanity…These drugs may reduce numbers of death from heart attack and other cardiovascular events, but the risk of death from other causes goes up, canceling out any survival benefit… Statins have also been linked to increased risk of kidney disease, immune system suppression, memory loss, and cancer ” [6].

 

Another medical doctor has written, “Cholesterol is one type of body fat.  The enzyme in the liver that makes sugar into cholesterol turns up its activity when insulin levels rise.  Insulin levels rise following carbohydrate meals or excess mental stress (among other promoters)…Statin drugs work, in part, because they poison this liver enzyme’s ability to listen to the insulin message.  The trouble with poisons concerns their inevitable side effect and toxicities.  One of the nasty side effects from these medications concerns the depletion of Co enzyme Q10 in the body.  The heart needs the lion’s share of this important nutrient.  Deficiency here causes one type of heart failure” [7].

 

It should be noted that Co enzyme Q10 was first isolated from bovine heart tissue.  Heart tissue contain the most Co Q10 in the body.  Bovine heart tissue remains one of the best naturally-occurring food sources of Co enzyme Q10 (high Co enzyme Q10 nutritional yeast is probably the best vegetarian food source of Co Q10).

 

In addition to eating less sugars and refined carbohydrates, trans fatty acids (often found in margarine, french fries, and potato chips) should also be avoided.  Adding two tablespoons to four tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds to the daily diet (they can be sprinkled on cereal or salads) is probably one of the most important dietary changes to reduce cholesterol.  Adding walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, and eating a lot of garlic are also important for people who simply want to try to lower cholesterol via diet.

 

Although niacin can increase HDL cholesterol while lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and lipoprotein (a), it needs to be understood that the type of niacin that has been tested for these conditions is NOT niacinamide that is found in foods.

 

Thyroid support, such as via various herbs and glandulars,  has been found to help reduce cholesterol levels [8].  Nutritional support for the thyroid, which can be a simple as kelp and tyrosine, should be part of most cholesterol lowering plans.

 

Policosanol, which believe or not, is a sugar cane derivative, has been found to help reduce cholesterol [9].  This strongly suggests that if we humans left foods closer to how God made them, that God put in foods many substances to protect us from ourselves.

 

An animal study found that after one month of feeding, a high vitamin C citrus complex induced a significant reduction of 77%, 66%, and 40% in plasma total cholesterol, LDL + VLDL, and triglycerides respectively and that USP ascorbic acid or bioflavonoids alone were ineffective (though isolated USP ascorbic acid did raise HDL).  This same study also found that the natural food complex vitamin C strongly inhibited atherosclerosis [10].

 

In the intestines,  calcium and magnesium can help reduce the absorption of saturated fats and seems to be able to reduce total cholesterol and triglyceride levels [11].

 

Congestive Heart Failure

 

If one has actually had congestive heart failure, lowering cholesterol is NOT necessarily well advised.  One study involving 1,134 patients with advanced heart failure (mean age 52 years) found that those with lower levels of cholesterol were less likley to survive as long.  Patients with low total cholesterol had significantly lower LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, sodium, albumin, left ventricular ejection fraction and cardiac output.  Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides each predicted improved survival at higher levels.  It found that serum total cholesterol was a predictor of survival in chronic, severe heart failure.  Low total cholesterol was a strong, independent predictor of impaired survival in this patient population.  It also concluded that the effect of lipid-lowering medications on heart failure survival needs to be evaluated.  In the total group, the mean total cholesterol was 178 mg/dl.  In survivors (70% of the population), the 1-year total cholesterol level was 185 mg/dl, and in non-survivors, it was 165 mg/dl  [12].

 

In 5 randomized trials involving 24 healthy volunteers and 271 patients with 3 different preparations of hawthorn berry (Crataegus oxyacantha et monogyna), there was orthostatic dysregulation in 24 subjects, no significance in 88 subjects, and a significant improvement in exercise tolerance in 140 patients with congestive heart failure New York Heart Association II (NYHA II).  Good tolerance was found in all studies, and adverse drug reactions to the berries were as low as with leaves and flowers.  The constituents of the berries of Crataegus oxyacantha are: flavonoids and their glycosides, procyanidins at 2.9%, oligomeric proacyanidins at 1.89%, phenols (epicatechin 1%) and triterpene acids at 0.42-0.45%.  Good evidence was found for tolerability and efficacy of congestive heart failure with hawthorn leaves and flowers in systematic reviews and meta-analysis, but for hawthorn berries only, patients' doctors' experience suggested benefit in orthostatic dysregulation as well as in congestive heart failure [13].

 

Furthermore, those who have had congestive heart failure (or conditions similar) often will benefit from bovine heart tissue.  Other nutrients include food B vitamins, food vitamin C, food calcium, food magnesium, Co enzyme Q10, garlic, can also be of help. 

 

Homocysteine

 

Homocysteine is an intermediate sulfur- containing amino acid that is formed during the intracellular metabolism of methionine, which is an essential amino acid supplied by dietary proteins.  When homocysteine is formed, it is recycled to methionine after remethylation by 2 different pathways. The first involves methionine synthase, which is an enzyme that uses vitamin B12 as an essential cofactor and -methyl-tetrahydrofolate as the methyl donor.  The second pathway, which occurs in hepatic tissue, involves the enzyme betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase. Homocysteine may be converted to cystathionine by cystathionine beta-synthase, which is a vitamin B6-dependent enzyme. Cystathionine is then hydrolyzed to form cysteine. Plasma levels of homocysteine refer to the total pool of homocysteine, since there is very little free homocysteine  [14].

 

Excess homocysteine can damage vascular endothelium by increasing oxidative damage, stimulating smooth muscle cell growth, or activating leukocytes, platelets and plasma clotting factors.  Sadly, it is an overlooked marker of cardiovascular health.  The Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association recommends a fasting homocysteine level of <10 umol/l.  Serum levels of folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are inversely correlated with serum homocysteine levels, with folate being probably the most important single nutrient.

 

Elevated levels of plasma homocysteine can cause atherosclerotic vascular disease by increasing arterial endothelial dysfunction.  Elevated homocysteine levels may also increase thromboxane A2 formation in platelet aggregation, proliferation of smooth muscle cells, increase activation of factors V and X, increase fibrinogen levels, reduce serum antithrombin activity and increase binding of lipoprotein (a) to fibrin.  In a paper doing a meta-analysis of 27 studies, the odds ratio for coronary artery disease with a 5-mmol/l increase in homocysteine levels was 1.6 for men and 1.8 for women; the odds ratio for cerebrovascular disease for a 5-mmol/l increase in homocysteine level was 1.5 [15].  The same paper concluded that factors that determine total homocysteine levels include cardiovascular disease, vitamin status, drugs, diabetes, age and gender, sex steroid hormones, renal failure, genetics, lifestyle, thyroid disease and proliferative diseases.

 

One study found that a diet high in intakes of vitamin B-rich foods is associated with a lower total homocysteine level and a reduced percentage of high total homocysteine levels in elderly subjects [16].  Hyperhomocysteinemia has been found to be significantly associated with dementia [17].  One paper concluded that due to genetic variation, B- vitamin therapy that lowers homocysteine levels and omega-3 fatty acids that may have benefit in sudden cardiac death and vascular inflammation may have partial benefit in preventing restenosis after coronary angioplasty [18].  Using a combination of both is probably the best approach and is a low-cost, low-risk preventive approach to restenosis and can be justified ethically.  Another study concluded that coffee abstention resulted in a decrease in total homocysteine of 1.04 umol/l [19], hence coffee may be contraindicated for some with high risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Alfalfa sprouts contain food folate and are considered to be the best food supplement source by some.  Folate deficiency is the most important determinant in high homocysteine levels [20], and supplemental folate is effective in reducing homocysteine [20,21].   Folate plays a role in converting homocysteine to methionine.  Vitamin B12 is an important cofactor in this reaction that turns homocysteine into methionine, but the metabolic impact of mild vitamin B12 deficiency can be largely overcome by high levels folate [22] (though not too high as “high doses of folic acid can mask hemological signs of vitamin B12 deficiency” [23]).

 

Now although it is generally supposed that synthetic folic acid is more bioavailable than food folate, this is based on data that is “quite limited” [23].  It should be noted that high levels of folic acid are suspected to possibly contribute to disorders of folate metabolism [24].  Since the human body can only convert about 266 mcg of folic acid to methylfolate per day, it is probably safer for the human body to take the food form which not only appears to be more slowly absorbed, but which does not have the problem of being foreign to the body as the unconverted folic acid is [24]. 

 

Cyanocobalamin, the common pharmacological (USP) form of vitamin B-12, is essentially cobalamins combined with cyanide [25].  The only two naturally active forms of vitamin B-12 in the human body are methylcobalamin and deoxyadenosylcobalamin and those are in food [26].  An animal study found that food vitamin B-12 was absorbed 2.56 times more into the blood and was retained 1.59 times more in the liver than a USP isolated form [27].

 

Vitamins B-6, B-12, and folate are all important nutrients for healthy blood; the absence of any of them can trigger various forms of anemia (especially pernicious anemia) [26,28].  Subclinical deficiencies in vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, and folate may impair cognitive function [29].

 

Homocysteine responds to vitamin B-12 and folate [21].  Dr. Mason of Tufts University School of Medicine reports that a 20% elevation of homocysteine significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease [30].  Normal homocysteine level is about 12 µmol/L, while cardiovascular risk increases about 14-16 µmol/L [30].  In addition, even if blood tests for vitamin B-12 or folate appear to be normal, this may be because results are masked by an elevated level of homocysteine.  Homocysteine is highly implicated in vascular diseases and is probably a much more reliable indicator of vascular health than cholesterol is.  Homocysteine  can be reduced with sufficient vitamin B-12 and folate, with vitamin B-6 sometimes playing a supporting role [21]. 

 

Hypertension

 

Most of the other comments on diet and cholesterol and triglycerides, also apply to hypertension, so they will not be specifically addressed here.  Though it bears repeating that nutritional thyroid support should be part of many hypertension (and even hypotension) treatments [8].

 

The kidneys can also be a factor in primary, as well as secondary, hypertension.  Also, “Renovascular hypertension should be suspected when diastolic hypertension first develops in patients < 30 or > 55 or when previously stable hypertension abruptly accelerates” [31].  

 

Nutritional support for hypertension includes food B vitamins, food calcium, food magnesium, bovine kidney, and thyroid glandulars, Co enzyme Q10, garlic and other herbs, and of course a good diet.

 

Both thyroid glandulars and kidney glandulars can be helpful for problems with systolic blood pressure.

 

One of the most effective treatments for high diastolic blood pressure is food calcium.  Clinical reports consistently confirm that dietary/food calciums [32-35] are important in the management of blood pressure.  This does not appear to be the case with isolated calcium salts (the results appear inconsistent [33-35]).  One study  that compared 100% food calcium to calcium gluconate found those who consumed the food calcium had an 8.2% decrease in diastolic blood pressure after seven weeks (p<.01) whereas those consuming calcium gluconate had no significant change [32]. 

 

“[D]andelion (Taraxacum officinale) root contains an inulin-like substance that may promote osmotic diuresis, while its leaves are high in potassium and could offset potassium wasting” [36].  This essentially means that, overall, dandelion is a safer diuretic than medical diuretics

 

Garlic “[l]owers blood pressure and improves circulation.  Lowers blood lipid levels’ [37].  “Garlic kills bacteria…Garlic is the ideal natural medicine for resolving high blood pressure” [38].  Garlic has antihypertensive effects [39]. 

 

Gambir exerts hypotensive and vasodilatory effects [40] and is also sometimes used in products for those with hypertension. 

 

Red clover may have preventative properties related systolic hypertension [41].  

 

Hypertension itself is a multifactorial problem from a clinical perspective.  But since most of those problems can be addressed nutritionally, one wonders why dangerous medications are used as much as they are.

 

Hypotension

 

Dr. Harry Eidener once said something to the effect that although you may be healthy if you have hypotension, you might also be miserable nearly everyday of your life because of it. 

 

People with hypotension tend to be lethargic, have cold extremeties, and simply rarely feel all that well.  Nutritional thyroid support should be part of most hypertension (and even hypotension) treatments.

 

If hypotension has been clinically determined, as in a simple blood pressure test, nutritionally support for the heart can almost always help.  Nutritional support for the heart includes food B vitamins, bovine heart glandulars, Co enzyme Q10, hawthorn berries, garlic, and of course a good diet.  If bovine heart containing products are indicated (and they often are if the patient also has complaints of exhaustion), they should be taken no closer than eight hours before bedtime. 

 

Ischemic Heart Disease

 

A study of 350 cases of individuals who were between 21 and 74 years of age who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of first acute myocardial infarction compared with 700 matched controls who were admitted to hospitals for other reasons, there was a significant and dose-dependent inverse association between vegetable intake and ischemic heart disease [42].  The inverse association was stronger for green leafy vegetables.  In individuals consuming a median of 3.5 servings/week, there was a 67% relative lower risk of ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed 0.5 servings/week. Cereal intake was also associated with a lower risk. 

 

Another study evaluated 1,536 Italian males from two rural Italian cohorts who were between 45 and 65 years of age, during 30 years of follow-up, there were 1,096 deaths (308 from coronary heart disease, 325 from cancer, 158 from cerebrovascular disease and 305 from all other causes).  The age-adjusted life expectancy for men consuming more than 60 g/day of vegetables was nearly 2 years longer than for men consuming <20 g/day, with the survival being more striking in smokers than nonsmokers [43].

 

These studies confirm what natural health doctors have long known—diets higher in vegetables result in a reduced risk of heart disease.  

 

Triglycerides

 

People who also have high triglycerides should consider  avoiding all candy, chewing gum, honey, jam, jellies, syrups, carbonated soft drinks, alcoholic beverages (except possibly small amounts of red wine), coffee, tea, and white bread.  Those with more severe concerns may also wish to avoid cooked cabbage, cooked cauliflower, cooked brussel sprouts, and sweet pickles.

 

In a study of 30 overweight adolescents who were 14-15 years of age and were placed either on a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet for 12 weeks (average body mass index 35.5), those on the low-carbohydrate diet were instructed to consume <20 g of carbohydrate per day for 2 weeks, and then <40 g/day for 10 weeks, while adding fruits, nuts and whole grains, and to eat the low-carbohydrate foods according to hunger.  The low-fat group was instructed to consume <30% of energy from fat.  At the end of the 12-week trial, the low-carbohydrate group lost a mean of 9.9 pounds, while the low-fat group lost a mean of 4.1 pounds. Adolescents in the low-carbohydrate group consumed more calories per day than those in the low-fat group, with an average of 1,700 versus 1,100 calories per day, respectively, but still lost more weight.  Both groups reduced total cholesterol levels, although the low-fat group reduced their levels by more than the low- carbohydrate group at -17.3% versus -3.7%, respectively.  There was improvement in LDL cholesterol levels in the low-fat group by - 25.1% versus 3.8% in the low-carbohydrate group.  HDL cholesterol increased by 1.8% in the low-fat group and by 3.8% in the low- carbohydrate group.  Triglycerides were reduced by 5.9% in the low- fat group and by 48.3% in the low-carbohydrate group [44]. 

 

As compared with starches, sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, can increase serum triglyceride levels by approximately 60% [45].  Sedentary individuals with upper-body and visceral obesity who have metabolic syndrome tend to have a higher risk for hypertriglyceridemia in response to high-sucrose and high-carbohydrate diets.  Moderate weight loss can reduce this hypertriglyceridemic tendency.  Hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance may promote higher rates of very LDL (VLDL) synthesis and hypertriglyceridemia in obesity.  Epidemiologic data provide no association of sugar or total carbohydrate intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, but high dietary glycemic load is associated with higher serum triglyceride levels and a greater risk of coronary artery disease in women [45]. 

 

In a randomized, placebo- controlled trial involving 44 Europeans (mean age 48.7 years, 24 men and 20 women) and 40 Indo-Asian Sikhs (mean age 46.9 years, 23 men and 17 women), after a 2-week run-in period, subjects randomly received either 4.0 g of fish oil containing 1.5 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 1.0 g of  docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or 4.0 g of olive oil daily for 12 weeks.  There was a significant reduction in plasma triglycerides, plasma apolipoprotein B-48 and platelet phospholipid arachidonic acid levels, and a significant increase in plasma HDL concentrations and platelet phospholipid EPA and DHA levels seen after fish-oil consumption.  There was no effect of ethnicity on responses to fish oil [46].

 

Fish oil is not the only substance that helps reduce triglycerides of course.  In a cross-sectional study of 2,036 men and 2,404 women who were between 25 and 93 years of age, mean dietary linolenic acid intakes were 0.81 and 0.69 g/day for the men and women, respectively.  Increased intakes of dietary linolenic acid were associated with being young; high intakes of energy, fat, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and fish; low HDL cholesterol; current smoking; and frequent consumption of creamy salad dressings.  High consumption of dietary linolenic acid was associated with low plasma triglyceride levels [47].  Linolenic acid is found in flaxseeds, walnuts, and most nuts and seeds.

 

An exercise program which helps maintain ideal body weight will mitigate the adverse effects of high-sugar, high-carbohydrate diets on serum triglycerides [45].  But, it is always wise to improve one’s diet, even if one is planning to exercise.

 

Speaking of exercise, in a study of 15 patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of <40% with congestive heart failure, subjects were randomized to two 1-hour tai chi classes per week and encouraged to practice tai chi at home at least 3 times per week compared with 15 congestive heart failure patients who acted as controls and received no intervention.  At 12 weeks, the mean walking distance during a 6-minute walk test increased by 277 feet for patients practicing tai chi, from a mean of 1,074 feet at baseline.  The control group had a reduction by 206 feet, from a mean baseline value of 1,116 feet.  B-type natriuretic peptide levels fell from a mean of 329 pg/ml to 281 pg/ml in the tai chi group and rose from a median of 285 pg/ml to 306 pg/ml in the control group.  The tai chi group reported an improved quality of life, while the control group said that their life quality had declined slightly [48].  Of course, other forms of exercise have also been shown to be helpful.

 

Concluding Comments

 

Cardiovascular concerns are quite often truly caused by nutritional influences and nutrition is that logical choice of treatment for many.  Proper nutrition is good for more than just cardiovasculas health, and does not have dangerous side effects.

 

Many nutrients can be involved.  For example, copper deficiency can result in structural weakness in cardiovascular structures. Copper deficiency can result in peroxidation, the interaction of oxygen-derived free radicals with lipids and proteins (possibly DNA); glycation, the nonenzymatic glycosylation of proteins; and nitration, the interaction of nitric oxide and its metabolites with peptides and proteins. These 3 mechanisms can result in significant damage to the cardiovascular system. Copper deficiency can depress antioxidant enzyme functions, which can cause free radical damage to lipids, proteins and DNA. Copper deficiency can impair carbohydrate metabolism, allowing for increases in protein glycation, which can degrade their structure and function. Copper deficiency interferes with enzymes related to nitric oxide-mediated signal transduction. The adverse cardiovascular consequences of copper deficiency are due to deficits in copper-dependent enzymes, peroxidation, glycation and alterations of nitric oxide-dependent processes. [Saari JT.  Copper deficiency and cardiovascular disease: role of peroxidation, glycation, and nitration.  Can J Physiol Pharmacol, 2000;78:848-855].  It may be of interest to not that bovine heart tissue contains copper, zinc, selenium, magnesium calcium [Beef, variety meats and by-products, heart, raw.  NBD No: 13321.  USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 16-1, 2004], and even co enzyme Q10 [Farley TM, Blake J, Folkers K.  An epoxyubiquinone-10 related to beef heart mitochondria and its significance in nutrition.  Int Z Vitaminforsch. 1969;39(2):168-174].

 

Dietary fats that are associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease include trans-fats and saturated fats.  Fats found in olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and those found in fish are normally protective. 

 

Dietary sodium is associated with an increase in blood pressure in only a small amount of cases, while dietary potassium (which is found in fruits and vegetables) lowers the risk of hypertension and stroke. 

 

The bottom line is that the regular, frequent intake of fruits and vegetables is protective against hypertension, coronary heart disease and stroke [49].  And garlic is an herb that not only do many people feel tastes good, but one that has a variety of cardiovascular benefits.

 

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Copyright 2005 by Robert Thiel, Ph.D., Naturopath All rights reserved.