Heart disease can be reversed without surgery and without drugs with five simple steps, says Steven Masley, M.D. He outlines his innovative plan in his best-selling new book, “The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up.”
Dr. Masley, an American Heart Association Fellow and award-winning educator, says that his research and experience shows that conventional heart health thinking – that cholesterol is the primary driver of heart disease – is absolutely wrong.
“In my research I didn’t find that to be the case at all,” Dr. Masley tells Newsmax Health. He says that more than 100 of his patients have successfully made their hearts younger using his plan, which relies on diet and lifestyle changes.
According to Dr. Masley, these patients reversed their heart disease by following what he’s dubbed the five “F” factors: fiber, fish, food nutrients, fitness, and fat.
No. 1: Increase fiber. If you want to reverse existing heart disease, increasing the amount of fiber you eat is “the most critical” factor,” says Dr. Masley.
He recommends soluble fiber, which is found in beans, nuts, oats, vegetables, and fruits. His plan calls for five cups of fruits and vegetables daily, along with a half cup of beans and a handful of nuts.
The heart healthiest fruits and vegetables are those that are brightly colored – deep green, bright red, or yellow – because these are particularly rich in anti-aging antioxidants, he says. Tomatoes, oranges, red grapes, broccoli, peppers, kale, and spinach are all examples.
No. 2: Eat more fish. Eating fish is important because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “Fish can help reduce irregular heartbeat, blood stickiness (which can lead to heart attack-causing blood clots), and triglycerides,” he says.
Dr. Masley recommends cold-water, small-mouth fish — like salmon, sole and trout — at least three times a week because they are highest in “good fats” and less likely to be contaminated with mercury. High-quality fish oil capsules taken daily are fine if you can’t eat enough fish, he says.
No. 3: Increase nutrient levels. Eating a healthy diet will provide most vitamins and nutrients, but not necessarily all that your heart needs, says Dr. Masley.
“Supplements can benefit your heart heath substantially even if you eat well, exercise regularly, and manage stress,” he says.
He recommends taking a daily, well-balanced multivitamin, magnesium (400 milligrams), vitamin D (2,000 mg), and vitamin K (250 mcg). People on blood thinners should consult their doctors before upping their vitamin K level, he says.
No. 4: Reduce body fat. Obesity is an obvious heart risk factor. Therefore, reversing body fat reverses disease, says Dr. Masley.
Excess body fat not only raises cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels, but fat calls produce inflammatory compounds, and these, in turn, accelerate the formation of plaque in coronary arteries. “Inflammation leads to stickier blood, which could cause a heart attack or stroke-causing blood clot to form,” he says.
The good news, Dr. Masley says, is that by following his eating regimen, most people become leaner.
No. 5: Increase your fitness. “People who exercise regularly have 40 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes and cases of sudden death,” says Dr. Masley. “Strenuous exercise is crucial to heart disease prevention.
“Your coronary arteries are just like muscles in that they must be exercised to function optimally. Regular exercise can help turn a sick, stiff, plaque-coated artery into a healthy one.”
Some doctors tell patients what they want to hear when it comes to exercise, recommending just a short daily walk for heart health. The fact is, exercise needs to be intense to reverse heart disease, says Dr. Masley.
“A 20-minute stroll won’t cut it,” he says.
He recommends aerobic exercise, strength training and stretching for flexibility, with intensity and length tailored to a person’s fitness level.
“A really fit person can get a great high-intensity workout in 15-20 minutes, but a coach potato may need 40 minutes to get a modest workout,” Dr. Masley says.
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