Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death on the planet claiming 17.9 million lives each year. Every year, 29th September is recognised as World Heart Day and through this day, we aim to educate people that by controlling risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, at least 80% of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided.
As per the data, more than 60 percent of all deaths in India is due to lifestyle diseases and out of these, 26% deaths are because of Cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the good news is that coronary artery diseases which is the most prevalent form of CVD is completely reversible and preventable.
Formation of Coronary Artery Disease
Let us understand how blockages in our arteries are created and how food can reverse these blockages. The innermost lining of our arteries is made up of endothelial cells. Experts agree that the inception of Coronary Artery Disease occurs with injury to the endothelial lining of arteries. The first step is the damage to the endothelial cell wall. Now our food is one of the main contributors to the damage of endothelial cells. A diet that is filled with oils, deep fried foods, meat, fish, animal protein, dairy products, sugar and caffeine will initiate endothelial injury and depletes mechanisms that protect endothelium. Why so? Because such a diet diminishes production of nitric oxide, a gas which is the guardian and lifejacket of our blood vessels, which starts a spiralling cascade of injury and disease of the arterial wall. Now because of years of eating such processed, packed and deep-fried foods we develop blockages in our arteries.
Apart from food, lifestyle habits like smoking, being inactive and taking excessive stress can also add up to the formation of plaques in arteries and veins. According to the latest studies on nutri-genomics, we now understand that any food we eat can either heal our arteries or can damage our arteries. This means when we eat foods like fruits and vegetables it can clear our arteries and when we eat unhealthy foods it can trigger more blockages and thereby increases issues like high BP and heart diseases. Nutri-genomics is a science that teaches us how food can change our genes. Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the leading cardiologists of the world who consults people like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He treats all his patients with food and exercise. He has proved in July 1990 that a 3-month plant-based diet i.e. diet surrounding fruits and vegetables and no intake of dairy, animal protein or processed foods can start reversing coronary artery disease. However, we still have so many people suffering from these issues because of unawareness and lack of right knowledge.
I firmly believe that the first step to reversing lifestyle diseases is empowering ourselves with the right information. And today I will be sharing with you 5 foods that you should eat to reverse coronary artery disease and 5 foods you should avoid since they can increase your risk.
5 foods for reversal of coronary heart disease:
Green leafy vegetable: Green leafy vegetables are high in vitamin K and nitrates, which can help reduce blood pressure and improve arterial function.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts and seeds contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for the heart.
Beetroot: Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of nitrates, which help improve blood flow and heart health. As such, the nitrates in beet juice may help improve blood flow and exercise ability in patients with heart failure.
Pomegranate: Pomegranate protects the heart and arteries. It improves blood flow and keeps the arteries from becoming stiff and thick. It may also slow the growth of plaque and build-up of cholesterol in the arteries.
Carrots: As an excellent source of potassium, carrot juice can help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level. Lower cholesterol levels reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
5 foods that worsens coronary artery disease:
Deep fried foods: Fried foods increase the risk of heart attack and stroke due to presence of high saturated fats. And the more fried foods you eat, the greater your risk.
Processed/Junk foods: Trans fats in these foods increase obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidaemia risk and the high salt content increases blood pressure.
Animal protein: Animal foods seem to injure blood vessels as they are very high in chronic inflammation. Hence one should avoid them to minimise their risk of coronary artery disease.
Sugary products: High amounts of sugar overload the liver. Over time, this can lead to a greater accumulation of fat, which may turn into fatty liver disease, a contributor to diabetes, which raises your risk for heart disease.
Dairy products: Milk and other dairy products are the top sources of artery-clogging saturated fat. Milk products also contain cholesterol. Diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease.
Today we live in an age of information and in this age of information, ignorance can only be a choice. Science has proven with enough research papers on how powerful plant-based foods are to prevent and reverse coronary artery disease which unfortunately happens to be our number one reason for deaths across the globe. I sincerely hope we all can understand and apply this information in our lives so that as a community we all can live healthier and happier.
(World Heart Day will be observed globally on September 29)
(Karan Kakkad is an international Nutrigenomics & Disease Reversal expert based in India. He is the Founder & CEO of Reverse Factor. To know more visit: www.reversefactor.in)