Coronary heart disease

What is coronary heart disease? It is caused by the build up of fatty deposits in the walls of the coronary arteries. These walls become narrowed or ‘furred up’ to the point that not enough blood reaches the heart. This condition is called atherosclerosis.

And, if the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen because of these narrowed arteries then angina is the result. This is characterised by pain in the chest, neck or arm which tends to disappear after a short period of time. It can be controlled with medication and a healthy diet.

Another risk with this is if this artery becomes blocked by a blood clot which then causes a heart attack.

Another equally serious illness is cardiovascular disease. This is a wide ranging term that includes coronary heart disease, strokes and heart failure. It is another major cause of death in the UK and is caused by a variety of factors which include a poor diet and high cholesterol levels.

Not all fats are bad. We need a small amount of fat in our diet to help with the normal functioning of the body. So include ‘good’ fats (polyunsaturated or monounsaturated) such as omega 3 fatty acids found in sardines, tuna and mackerel and omega 6 fats found in nuts, seeds and olive oil.

The ‘bad’ fats and the ones to avoid are saturated fats which are present in many processed foods. These include hard fats which are found in animal sources and trans-fats which are formed as a result of hydrogenation.

These fats cause the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol or LDL (low density lipoprotein) to rise which can build up in the coronary arteries, causing them to narrow or become blocked.

The following foods are high in saturated fats:

  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Lard
  • Biscuits and cakes
  • Cakes
  • Chocolate
  • Pastries
  • Pies
  • Sausages, burgers and other fatty meat products
  • Cream
  • Any foods that contain palm or coconut oil

Try to avoid these foods or if you find this difficult, have them in moderation only.

Heart Health Guide Index:

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