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Diet and heart

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in developed countries. For years, various dietary factors, such as cholesterol consumption, have been associated with the development of arteriosclerosis and one of its most dire consequences: coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction . Currently, we know other dietary factors, such as the consumption of various types of fatty acids, beta-carotenes, flavonoid lycopenes, folic acid, etc., which influence the appearance of arteriosclerosis plaque in the blood vessels and mortality due to cardiovascular causes.

In epidemiological studies carried out in the 70s, it was observed that the countries of the Mediterranean area, including Spain, had a lower mortality rate of cardiovascular origin than the countries of Northern Europe or the United States. These data supported the concept of the «Mediterranean diet», based on the consumption of bread, legumes, potatoes, rice, vegetables and olive oil, as a protective or preventive diet for coronary heart disease. With dietary changes in the 1960s and 1970s, mortality from coronary heart disease increased in Spain, in parallel with changes in plasma cholesterol, possibly related to the increase in the consumption of animal fats and cholesterol. Since the 1970s, mortality from cardiovascular diseases has progressively decreased (in men 126 / 100,000 inhabitants up to 109,

Plasma cholesterol and its different fractions (LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol), together with alterations in the wall of the arteries, cause the formation of arteriosclerosis plaque. The consumption of cholesterol in the diet and different types of fats determine the levels of cholesterol in the blood. First, we must limit the consumption of dietary cholesterol (eggs, sausages, organ meats …) to a maximum of 300 mg / day. There are three types of fats in the diet: saturated fats (fatty meats, whole dairy products, butter, coconut and palm oils used in industrial bakery …), polyunsaturated fats (seed oils, fish fat …), and monounsaturated fats ( oleic acid from olive oil).

The consumption of monounsaturated fats (olive oil) improves cholesterol levels, increases the HDL fraction (protective of coronary heart disease) and improves the action of insulin in patients with diabetes . Within polyunsaturated fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acids deserve special attention, present above all in oily fish (mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon …). It has been proven that they lower LDL-cholesterol levels, and act in various phases of blood clotting, improving fibrinolysis. Its consumption should be recommended, since it prevents the appearance of cardiovascular disease.

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The consumption of saturated fatty acids ; present mainly in fats of animal origin (fatty meats, sausages, bacon, sausages, whole dairy products, butter) and certain vegetable fats (industrial pastries); it represents the most damaging factor in the elevation of cholesterol levels in the blood, so we must limit its consumption, especially in people at risk of developing coronary heart disease.

” Natural antioxidants ” are substances that neutralize free radicals produced by metabolic reactions in the body itself or by external aggressions such as tobacco, ultraviolet radiation, drugs … They act as “scavengers” of said free radicals, protecting cellular DNA. Vitamins A, C and E, beta carotenes, lycopenes and flavonoids belong to this group.

In observational studies, the consumption of antioxidants has been associated with lower coronary mortality and a lower incidence of certain types of cancer (colon, lung): Intervention studies, supplementing pharmacologically with these vitamins, yield contradictory and inconclusive results. More recent studies show that the consumption of natural flavonoids and lycopenes, present in high concentrations in certain foods, such as broccoli, cabbages, apples, green tea, tomatoes, onion, garlic, etc., prevent the onset of coronary heart disease.

Currently the pharmacological use of vitamins is not recommended, but increasing the consumption of natural foods rich in antioxidants is.

Folic acid is a fundamental cofactor in numerous metabolic pathways. Its deficit produces an increase in homocysteine, directly related to coronary heart disease. Therefore, an increase in its consumption reduces cardiovascular risk. In addition, in pregnant women it prevents various fetal malformations (meningocele, spina bifida ). It is found mainly in fruits, vegetables and vegetables.

Moderate consumption of red wine, rich in antioxidants of the flavonoid type, can reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease by up to 20%.
In conclusion, to prevent coronary heart disease we must adapt the number of calories and increase physical activity; improve the quality of fats in the diet (increasing the consumption of olive oil and oily fish rich in Omega-3, and decreasing saturated fats); reduce the consumption of foods rich in cholesterol; increase the body’s antioxidant capacity, with an adequate supply of fruits and vegetables; increase the consumption of cereals, sources of fiber, vitamins E and B and consume wine in moderation.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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