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Heart Disease: How To Reduce The Risk

Heart Disease: Frequently Asked Questions

Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:53

Here are some frequently asked questions related to heart disease.

Q: Does a diet high in sugar increase the risk for coronary heart disease?

A: There is no evidence that high sugar intake by itself causes coronary heart disease. However, foods high in sugar-such as cakes, cookies, and ice cream are also often high in fat, which does increase risk for heart disease. Further, foods high in sugar displace other more nutritious foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, from your diet.

Q: Does alcohol decrease the risk of coronary heart disease?

A: A a glass or two of wine has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol levels (the good kind of cholesterol that helps clean out blood vessels). But more than two drinks a day can be harmful, raising blood pressure and throwing off cholesterol balance. Alcohol is also a fairly concentrated source of calories and can contribute to weight gain, which increases risk for CHD.

Q: Should I take antioxidant supplements to reduce my risk for coronary heart disease?

A: Antioxidants help prevent against CHD by slowing the depositing of cholesterol in the lining of the blood vessels. Foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and beta-carotene include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Because these foods contain many different antioxidants, dietary fiber, and other vitamins and minerals, it is best to get your antioxidants from food rather than the health food store. These foods are also low in fat and should provide the foundation for your diet.

Q: Once cholesterol-rich deposits form in my arteries, do they ever go away?

A: The artery-clogging deposits of cholesterol and other fat-like substances that cause heart disease can begin as early as childhood and continue to form as we grow older. New research, however, has shown that a very low-fat diet combined with regular exercise and other healthy lifestyle changes can actually help shrink and clear out these deposits in the blood vessels, reversing CHD.

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