Find out why this illness is the leading cause of death among Americans in the United States and what you can do to decrease your risk of developing it.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of nearly all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. While high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking are known as risk factors, other medical conditions can also play a part. The health agency noted that those living with diabetes or obesity have an increased risk of heart disease, as do those with unhealthy diets (this includes excess alcohol use) and sedentary lifestyles. With that being said, there are ways to combat this disease and promote a healthy heart. Ahead, a cardiologist further explains the prevalent causes of heart disease and how to improve your overall heart wellness.

The Origins of Heart Disease

"Heart disease remains the number one killer in America despite decades of advice to avoid saturated fats and record sales of statin drugs, like Crestor and Lipitor, to lower cholesterol numbers," says Dr. Steven Gundry, a cardiothoracic surgeon, the founder of GundryMD, and the author of Unlocking the Keto Code ($14.99, amazon.com). "This should cause all of us to reassess the real factors causing strokes and heart attacks." He notes that the key contributor to the sky-high rates of heart disease across the country is inflammation of the blood vessels, which is caused by a leaky gut (also known as intestinal permeability). Diets comprised of highly-refined grain and corn products can lead to leaky guts, as well as glyphosate-centric herbicides that are sprayed on most conventional farm products that people consume, Dr. Gundry adds.

Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart

Consuming foods rich in healthful fats, such as olive and canola oil, in place of butter or shortening can decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein. The cardiologist notes that consuming one to two tablespoons (though no more!) of olive oil per day can help prevent cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol levels. Dr. Gundry explains that eating foods with these types of oils can prevent recurrent heart attacks better than low-fat diets. "Polyphenols dramatically decrease inflammation makers and improve flexibility in blood vessels in humans, which is exactly what we want to prevent heart disease," Dr. Gundry adds. They can be found in everyday foods and ingredients, like fruits, vegetables, and spices, such as oregano and thyme.

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