OLYMPIA, WASHINGTON. Almost half of all Americans die of cardiovascular disease and 500,000 new cases of coronary artery disease are diagnosed every year. Dr. Steven Masley, MD of the Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound believes that simple dietary changes could result in a significant reduction in heart disease. Dr. Masley points out that soy products and legumes decrease the level of harmful low-density cholesterol (LDL) without affecting the level of beneficial high-density cholesterol (HDL); garlic decreases LDL and slightly increases HDL, one medium-size clove or capsules with 900 to 1800 mg of dried fresh garlic taken daily is sufficient. Soluble fiber (oat products, barley, fruits and vegetables) decrease overall cholesterol as does monounsaturated fats such as olive and canola oils. Polyunsaturated fats such as corn oil, soybean oil, and many margarines although causing a decrease in both LDL and total cholesterol are not recommended as they increase platelet aggregation, promote the oxidation of LDL, and increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Saturated fats and trans-fatty acids (in margarine) increase heart disease risk and studies have shown that people can reduce their intake of these fats by 50 per cent by cutting out butter, margarine, fatty meats, and dairy products made from whole or 2 per cent milk. Alpha-linolenic acid decreases the risk of heart disease substantially. It is found in flax oil, canola oil, green leafy vegetables, soybeans, walnuts, and hazelnuts. Fish and fish oils (EPA and DHA) have antiarrhythmic activity and an increased fish consumption has been found to reduce the risk of heart attacks and death among people with coronary artery disease. Dr. Masley concludes that relatively simple dietary changes can be highly effective in reducing cardiovascular disease.
Masley, Steven C. Dietary therapy for preventing and treating coronary artery disease. American Family Physician, Vol. 57, March 15, 1998, pp. 1299- 1306