Home' Nova National : October 2010 Contents 24 © NOVA OCTOBER 2010
We can prevent heart
attack and stroke, not
with a lifetime supply of
drugs, but with simple
says Dr Peter Dingle PhD.
Over the last year I have
researched and written widely
on how pharmaceutical
companies fool the public
into thinking cholesterol lowering drugs
work when, in fact, that's not the case.
These companies benefit enormously
from huge profits made by depicting high
cholesterol as the cause of cardiovascular
disease (CVD). However, this emphasis on
lowering cholesterol has resulted in a
deviation from the underlying problem
of CVD and its real risk factors. It is not
cholesterol levels that can cause harm to our
hearts, but instead excessive inflammation
and oxidisation of cholesterol that causes
damage to the cardiovascular system.
The problem is one of lifestyle and diet
and needs to be fixed, not with a lifetime
supply of drugs, but with lifestyle changes
anyone can begin today.
CVD is a multidimensional disease, yet
modern medicine looks at it through a
one-dimensional microscope. It cannot be
treated with a single magic bullet -- none
of the chronic illnesses can be. But a multi-
dimensional approach incorporating diet,
environment, attitude and lifestyle will
work. The solution lies in changing our
diet and our lifestyle. It is that simple. It
takes just one step at time.
A nutritionally complete diet is plentiful
in fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, fibre, omega
3 fatty acids, unprocessed and wholegrain
foods, adequate water, antioxidants,
minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals;
all are associated with a reduction in
cardiovascular disease. While this might
seem complex it is, in fact, easy to achieve
with a few small changes. Our research
has shown that you can get significantly
greater benefits from simple lifestyle
changes than from any drug. Just take one
step at a time.
Many studies have confirmed the
benefits of fruit and vegetables in reducing
the risk of heart attack and stroke. In a
study of 43,757 US male health professionals
followed for six years, a daily intake of
more than 100 grams (about a handful --
not much eh) of vegetables was associated
with a 26% lower risk of coronary death
1. One study found that regular fruit
consumers were 24% less likely to die of a
heart attack and 32% less likely to die of a
stroke compared to those people who eat
fruit only rarely 2. I have at last 10 serves a
day of fruit and vegetables. A study looking
at apple consumption found that there
was a 49% reduction in heart attacks for
men who ate more than 110g of apples
(one small apple) a day compared to men
who ate less than 18g per day (about an
apple a week). Perhaps we should introduce
a new saying: "An apple a day keeps the
heart attack away!" Most studies have
found that the fruit and vegetables can be
eaten raw or cooked, but dried or pickled
foods seem to have little or no protective
Legumes such as chickpeas, baked
beans and lentils are some examples of
plant protein products which benefit the
heart and are also examples of soluble
and insoluble fibre 4. Numerous studies
have shown a significantly reduced risk of
coronary disease, around 22%, as well as
a reduced risk of coronary mortality when
legumes were eaten at least four times
a week 5,6. This is a real and absolute risk
reduction, not relative risk reduction such
as those in the statin statistics reported
earlier. All you need to do is have baked
beans for breakfast every day instead of
overprocessed cereals. My preference is
a bit of dahl or even some chick peas for
Legumes are high in fibre, magnesium
and potassium; they are low in cholesterol,
fat and calories. Their rich fibre content
reduces low-density lipoproteins (LDLs)
7. Isoflavones, produced by the legume
family, have significant cholesterol-reducing
effects 8; they bind with cholesterols and
stop the uptake of cholesterol from the
gut 9. Legumes also have the ability to
lower blood pressure 5,10. High ratios
of potassium to sodium in legumes are
linked to a reduction in blood pressure.
An epidemiological study of middle-aged
men over the course of seven years
found that a diet incorporating higher
intakes of vegetables, inclusive of legumes,
led to lower blood pressure over time,
whereas higher intakes of meat and poultry
led to higher blood pressure 11. There
are more than 25 good studies showing
the benefits of potassium (which is rich
in most plant foods) for lowering high
blood pressure. Maybe it's not the salt
we always blame for hypertension, but the
lack of potassium and other minerals in
our modern diets.
A handful of mixed fresh nuts, or just
some raw almonds, has only positive side
effects including weight loss. Nuts provide
the nutrients your body needs to function
effectively, while lowering cholesterol,
inflammation, fats such as triglycerides
and every other risk factor for heart attack,
stroke and other chronic illnesses. A study
of 31,208 Seventh Day Adventists found
that subjects who consumed nuts more
than four times per week had an almost
50% reduction in CVD compared to those
who consumed less than one serving of
nuts per week. That is, the more nuts
they consumed the less death from heart
attack and stroke. Just a handful each day
can make a big difference.
Wholegrains, not wholemeal, are rich
in essential fatty acid, fibre, selenium,
folate, vitamin E and much more 12.
Increasing an individual's intake of
wholegrains and dietary fibre, especially
those found in oats, barley and rice bran,
reduces LDL cholesterol and increases
HDL cholesterol levels; the increase of
these wholegrains also inhibits the
reabsorption of cholesterol, which
consequently improves insulin sensitivity
by lowering the rate of carbohydrate
reabsorption 4,13,14. Fibre also acts as a
prebiotic to feed the good gut bacteria,
One Step at a Time
'A study of 31,208 Seventh Day Adventists
found that subjects who consumed nuts
more than four times per week had an
almost 50% reduction in CVD compared to
those who consumed less than one serving
of nuts per week.'
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