If you want to function well and stay healthy, you need a vascular system that can provide good blood supply to all tissue in your body, especially your brain and heart. The reason is that the blood provides nutrients and oxygen to the whole body. Without that, all tissue will degenerate. You can imagine what that would mean to your brain and heart. As we get older the more likely it is that the blood vessels will start to collect deposits and get narrower, that’s called atherosclerosis. There are several blood tests used to determine the risk for cardiovascular disease.
What you really want to know is the health of your arteries.
The following research is very interesting. It included 4184 participants without what’s considered to be conventional cardiovascular risk factors (Fernandez-Friera L, et.al., 2017). The status of their vascular system was evaluated by ultrasound detected carotid, iliofemoral and abdominal aortic plaques and coronary artery calcification. The researchers also included a lot of different blood tests as well as lifestyle evaluation.
Plaque or coronary artery calcification was present in 49.7% of the participants.
The real value of this study is the identification of the most relevant risk factor which was found to be LDL cholesterol.
The results indicate that atherosclerosis in both men and women develops above an LDL cholesterol threshold of approximately 50 to 60 mg/dl. This is much lower than what was thought necessary for a healthy cardiovascular system.
This means that if you want to have arteries free of deposits, you need to implement a diet and lifestyle that has shown to do that. This is not impossible and does not have to be that difficult.
What you eat is the most important factor.
When people eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet for one year were compared with a group eating a plant-based diet also for a year, this was the results. All the participants were evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the study using myocardial perfusion imaging, echocardiography and several blood tests (Fleming RM, 2000).
The group eating the plant-based diet improved their cardiovascular function and had less plaque in their arteries a year later when measured.
The group eating a high protein, low carbohydrate diet had more plaque than when they started a year ago, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease like fibrinogen a clotting factor, Lp(a) and CRP an inflammatory marker were all worse.
Fernández-Friera L1, Fuster V2, López-Melgar B3, Oliva B4, García-Ruiz JM5, Mendiguren J6, Bueno H7, Pocock S8, Ibáñez B9, Fernández-Ortiz A10, Sanz J11. Normal LDL-Cholesterol Levels Are Associated With Subclinical Atherosclerosis in the Absence of Risk Factors. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017 Dec 19;70(24):2979- 2991. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.10.024.
Fleming RM1. The effect of high-protein diets on coronary blood flow. Angiology.2000 Oct;51(10):817-26.
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