7 Ways to Prevent and Even Reverse Heart Disease with Nutrition
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Heart disease, while still the #1 cause of mortality in the developed world, can be prevented and even reversed with nutritional interventions, according to a growing body of scientific research we’re indexing on GreenMedInfo.com.
Considering that heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the developed world, anything that can prevent or reduce cardiac mortality, or slow or even reverse the cardiovascular disease process, should be of great interest to health professionals and the general public alike.
Sadly, millions are still unaware of the extensive body of biomedical literature that exists supporting the use of natural compounds for preventing and even reversing heart disease, which we have indexed on GreenMedInfo.com.
Instead, they spend billions of healthcare dollars annually on highly toxic cholesterol-lowering pharmaceuticals such as statin drugs which have known cardiotoxicity, among 300 other proven side effects, simply because their doctors told them to do so. Bad advice is the rule and not the exception here. For instance, after decades of recommending a so-called ‘low dose’ aspirin to prevent heart disease and stroke, the weight of evidence now points to it being a cause of significantly more harm than good: Doctors Reverse Decades Old Aspirin Recommendation: Deadly Risks Outweigh Benefits for Heart Disease & Stroke.
So, with this in mind, let’s look at a small but significant sample of natural, food-based alternatives to these drugs through the lens of the clinical and biomedical literature itself.
Three Natural Substances that Reduce the Risk of Heart-Related Death
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: There is a robust body of research indicating that the risk of sudden cardiac death is reduced when consuming higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Going all the way back to 2002, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study titled, “Blood levels of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and the risk of sudden death,” which found: “The n-3 fatty acids found in fish are strongly associated with a reduced risk of sudden death among men without evidence of prior cardiovascular disease.” Another 2002 study, published in the journal Circulation, found that Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation reduces total mortality and sudden death in patients who have already had a heart attack.[i] For additional research, view our dataset on the topic of Omega-3 fatty acids and the reduction of cardiac mortality. It should be noted that the best-selling cholesterol drug class known as statins may actually reduce the effectiveness of omega-3 fats at protecting the heart. This has been offered as an explanation as to why newer research seems to show that consuming omega-3 fats does not lower the risk of cardiac mortality.
- Vitamin D: Levels of this essential compound have been found to be directly associated with the risk of dying from all causes. Being in the lowest 25% percent of vitamin D levels is associated with a 26% increased rate of all-cause mortality.[ii] It has been proposed that doubling global vitamin D levels could significantly reduce mortality.[iii]Research published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology in 2009 confirmed that lower vitamin D levels are associated with increased all-cause mortality but also that the effect is even more pronounced with cardiovascular mortality.[iv]This finding was confirmed the same year in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, [v] and again in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.[vi]
- Magnesium: In a world gone mad over taking inorganic calcium supplementation for manufactured diseases such as T-score defined “osteopenia” or “osteoporosis,” despite their well-known association with increased risk of cardiac mortality, magnesium’s role in protecting against heart disease cannot be overstressed. It is well-known that even the accelerated aging of the heart muscle experienced by those in long space flight is due to magnesium deficiency. In 2010, the Journal of Biomedical Sciences reported that cardiovascular risks are significantly lower in individuals who excrete higher levels of magnesium, indicating its protective role.[vii] Another study published in the journal Atherosclerosis in 2011 found that low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.[viii] Remember that when you are looking to ‘supplement’ your diet with magnesium go green. Chlorophyll is green because it has a magnesium atom at its center. Kale, for example, is far better a source of complex nutrition than magnesium supplements. But, failing the culinary approach, magnesium supplements can be highly effective at attaining a therapeutic and/or cardioprotective dose.
For an additional list of compounds that may reduce cardiac mortality, including cocoa, tea, wine and yes, even cholesterol itself, view our Reduce Cardiac Mortality page.
Four Natural Compounds Which May Unclog the Arteries
- Pomegranate: this remarkable fruit has been found in a human clinical study to reverse the carotid artery thickness (i.e. blockage) by up to 29% within 1 year. [ix] There are a broad range of mechanisms that have been identified which may be responsible for this effect, including: 1) lowering blood pressure 2) fighting infection (plaque in arteries often contains bacteria and viruses) 3) preventing cholesterol oxidation 4) reducing inflammation.[x]
- Arginine: Preclinical and clinical research indicates that this amino acid not only prevents the progression of atherosclerosis but also reverses pathologies associated with the process. (see also: Clogged Arteries and Arginine). One of the mechanisms in which it accomplishes this feat is by increasing the production of nitric oxide which is normally depressed in blood vessels where the inner lining has been damaged (endothelium) resulting in dysfunction.
- Garlic: Not only has garlic been found to reduce a multitude of risk factors associated with arteriosclerosis, the thickening and hardening of the arteries, but it also significantly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.[xi] In vitro research has confirmed that garlic inhibits arteriosclerotic plaque formation.[xii] Aged garlic extract has also been studied to inhibit the progression of coronary artery calcification in patients receiving statin therapy.[xiii] And let us not forget, garlic’s benefits are extremely broad. We have identified over 150 diseases that this remarkable culinary and medicinal herb has been confirmed to be of potential value in treating and preventing and which can be viewed here: Garlic Health Benefits.
- B-Complex: One of the few vitamin categories that has been confirmed in human studies to not only reduce the progression of plaque buildup in the arteries but actually reverse it is B-complex. A 2009 study published in the journal Stroke found that high dose B-complex vitamin supplementation significantly reduces the progression of early-stage subclinical atherosclerosis in healthy individuals.[xiv] More remarkably, a 2005 study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found a B-vitamin formula decreased the carotid artery thickness in patients at risk for cerebral ischemia.[xv] Another possible explanation for these positive effects is the role B-vitamins have in reducing the production of homocysteine, an artery and otherwise blood vessel scarring amino acid.[xvi]
For additional research on artery unclogging substances visit our page dedicated to the topic Unclogging Arteries.
Additional Heart Unfriendly Things To Avoid
No discussion of preventing cardiac mortality would be complete without discussing things that need to be removed in order to reduce risk, such as:
- NSAIDs: Drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and Tylenol, have well-known association with increased cardiac mortality. Review six studies on the topic here: NSAID Cardiotoxicity.
- Statin Drugs: It is the height of irony that the very category of drugs promoted to millions globally as the standard of care for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cardiac mortality are actually cardiotoxic agents, linked to no less than 300 adverse health effects. Statin drugs have devastating health effects. Explore the research here: Statin Drug Health Effects.
- Wheat: while this connection is rarely discussed, even by those who promote grain-free and wheat free diets, wheat has profound cardiotoxic potential, along with over 200 documented adverse health effects: Wheat Toxicity. And why wouldn’t it, when the very countries that eat the most of it have the highest rate of cardiovascular disease and heart-related deaths? For an in-depth explanation read our article: Wheat’s Cardiotoxicity: As Serious As A Heart Attack.
Finally, for additional research on the topic of heart health promoting strategies visit our Health Guide: Heart Health. Interested in healing an injured heart? Read about cardiac tissue regeneration: 6 Bodily Tissues That Can Be Regenerated Through Nutrition.
[i] Roberto Marchioli, Federica Barzi, Elena Bomba, Carmine Chieffo, Domenico Di Gregorio, Rocco Di Mascio, Maria Grazia Franzosi, Enrico Geraci, Giacomo Levantesi, Aldo Pietro Maggioni, Loredana Mantini, Rosa Maria Marfisi, G Mastrogiuseppe, Nicola Mininni, Gian Luigi Nicolosi, Massimo Santini, Carlo Schweiger, Luigi Tavazzi, Gianni Tognoni, Corrado Tucci, Franco Valagussa,. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction: time-course analysis of the results of the Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell’Infarto Miocardico (GISSI)-Prevenzione. Circulation. 2002 Apr 23;105(16):1897-903. PMID: 11997274
[ii] Michal L Melamed, Erin D Michos, Wendy Post, Brad Astor. 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and the risk of mortality in the general population. Arch Intern Med. 2008 Aug 11;168(15):1629-37. PMID: 18695076
[iii] W B Grant. An estimate of the global reduction in mortality rates through doubling vitamin D levels. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul 6. Epub 2011 Jul 6. PMID: 21731036
[iv] Stefan Pilz, Harald Dobnig, Giel Nijpels, Robert J Heine, Coen D A Stehouwer, Marieke B Snijder, Rob M van Dam, Jacqueline M Dekker. Vitamin D and mortality in older men and women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2009 Nov;71(5):666-72. Epub 2009 Feb 18. PMID: 19226272
[v] Adit A Ginde, Robert Scragg, Robert S Schwartz, Carlos A Camargo. Prospective study of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level, cardiovascular disease mortality, and all-cause mortality in older U.S. adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Sep;57(9):1595-603. Epub 2009 Jun 22. PMID: 19549021
[vi] Karl Michaëlsson, John A Baron, Greta Snellman, Rolf Gedeborg, Liisa Byberg, Johan Sundström, Lars Berglund, Johan Arnlöv, Per Hellman, Rune Blomhoff, Alicja Wolk, Hans Garmo, Lars Holmberg, Håkan Melhus. Plasma vitamin D and mortality in older men: a community-based prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Oct;92(4):841-8. Epub 2010 Aug 18. PMID: 20720256
[vii] Yukio Yamori, Takashi Taguchi, Hideki Mori, Mari Mori. Low cardiovascular risks in the middle aged males and females excreting greater 24-hour urinary taurine and magnesium in 41 WHO-CARDIAC study populations in the world. J Biomed Sci. 2010;17 Suppl 1:S21. Epub 2010 Aug 24. PMID: 20804596
[viii] Thorsten Reffelmann, Till Ittermann, Marcus Dörr, Henry Völzke, Markus Reinthaler, Astrid Petersmann, Stephan B Felix. Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Atherosclerosis. 2011 Jun 12. Epub 2011 Jun 12. PMID: 21703623
[ix] Sayer Ji, Research: Pomegranate May Reverse Blocked Arteries
[x] GreenMedInfo.com, Pomegranate’s Health Benefits
[xi] G Siegel, A Walter, S Engel, A Walper, F Michel. [Pleiotropic effects of garlic]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 1999;149(8-10):217-24. PMID: 10483684
[xii] Günter Siegel, Frank Michel, Michael Ploch, Miguel Rodríguez, Martin Malmsten. [Inhibition of arteriosclerotic plaque development by garlic]. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2004 Nov;154(21-22):515-22. PMID: 15638070
[xiii] Matthew J Budoff, Junichiro Takasu, Ferdinand R Flores, Yutaka Niihara, Bin Lu, Benjamin H Lau, Robert T Rosen, Harunobu Amagase. Inhibiting progression of coronary calcification using Aged Garlic Extract in patients receiving statin therapy: a preliminary study. Prev Med. 2004 Nov;39(5):985-91. PMID: 15475033
[xiv] Howard N Hodis, Wendy J Mack, Laurie Dustin, Peter R Mahrer, Stanley P Azen, Robert Detrano, Jacob Selhub, Petar Alaupovic, Chao-ran Liu, Ci-hua Liu, Juliana Hwang, Alison G Wilcox, Robert H Selzer,. High-dose B vitamin supplementation and progression of subclinical atherosclerosis: a randomized controlled trial. Stroke. 2009 Mar;40(3):730-6. Epub 2008 Dec 31. PMID: 19118243
[xv] Uwe Till, Peter Röhl, Almut Jentsch, Heiko Till, Andreas Müller, Klaus Bellstedt, Dietmar Plonné, Horst S Fink, Rüdiger Vollandt, Ulrich Sliwka, Falko H Herrmann, Henning Petermann, Reiner Riezler. Decrease of carotid intima-media thickness in patients at risk to cerebral ischemia after supplementation with folic acid, Vitamins B6 and B12.Atherosclerosis. 2005 Jul;181(1):131-5. Epub 2005 Feb 16. PMID: 15939064
[xvi] Claudio Maldonado, Chirag V Soni, Nathan D Todnem, Sathnur Pushpakumar, Dorothea Rosenberger, Srikanth Givvimani, Juan Villafane, Suresh C Tyagi. Hyperhomocysteinemia and sudden cardiac death: potential arrhythmogenic mechanisms. Curr Vasc Pharmacol. 2010 Jan;8(1):64-74. PMID: 19485933
Originally published: 2018-08-05 Aritcle updated: 2019-07-24
Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine,Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.