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After more than 100 years of increasing, the heart attack rate is slowing down. The drop may be explained by North Americans eating less saturated fats found in meat and chicken and dairy products and eating more mono- and polyunsaturated fats in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts. They are exercising more, smoking less and trying to avoid being overweight; and legislation now requires folic acid to be added back in to refined flour.

BUT not all polyunsaturated fats prevent heart attacks. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats help prevent heart attacks, while omega-6's do not (1). Deep-water fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, but they are not necessary; if you eat lots of whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts, you will get all the omega-3 fatty acids you need and obtain no extra known benefit by eating fish. Seeds are particularly rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids: flax, pumpkin and canola seeds, whole grains such as wheat berries, beans such as soybeans and nuts such as walnuts.

Recent research shows that L-arginine, a protein building block found in most plant and meat sources of protein, helps to widen arteries and prevent heart attacks (2).

1) GC Leng, GS Taylor, AJ Lee, FGR Fowkes, D Horrobin. Essential fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: the Edinburgh Artery Study. Vascular Medicine, 1999, Vol 4, Iss 4, pp 219-226.

2) EC Ray, ME Landis, VM Miller. Effects of dietary L-arginine on the reactivity of canine coronary arteries.Vascular Medicine, 1999, Vol 4, Iss 4, pp 211-217.

Checked 8/31/05

May 29th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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