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7 Suggestions for a Healthy Heart

Dear Dr.Kim

I have a family history of heart disease and want to make sure I stay healthy?

M.G., Sidney


Dear M.G.

While many people focus on cholesterol levels to monitor their risk of developing heart disease, it is important to take a much broader perspective. One of the most important factors in mitigating risk of developing heart disease is limiting inflammation. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease. Inflammation injures the blood vessel and begins the cascade that leads to blockage. Imagine a vehicle crash that blocks the flow of highway traffic. In the blood vessel, inflammation injures the arterial wall, cells of the immune system come to begin repair and then other molecules (such as cholesterol) begin to stick to the injury site and accumulate, blocking flow. A stroke can occur when there is a blockage that impedes flow to the brain while a heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart occurs.

It is important to point out that consuming dietary cholesterol makes little impact on blood cholesterol. Rather, ‘high cholesterol’ is typically a function of eating a disproportionate amount of refined carbohydrates (including sugar), consuming trans fats (such as found in shortening, some margarines and packaged foods), not enough soluble fiber intake, and/or suboptimal liver function; the liver prepares cholesterol for removal via bile.

Here are seven suggestions to get to the heart of the matter:

  1. Consider supplements that improve liver function such as