Heart disease runs in my family, like it does in many families. Few people are immune to the insidious accumulation of arterial plaque. Known risk factors include smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, age, and type-2 diabetes. Dietary factors are acknowledged, but there is no consensus regarding which dietary factors are actually risky. The stale conventional wisdom regarding cholesterol, meat, and saturated fat being bad for your heart is rapidly giving way to a more nuanced view that considers systemic inflammation, blood sugar regulation, and calcium metabolism. Starchy foods (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), fructose, and other high glycemic-index foods are now viewed with more suspicion than the once-maligned rib-eye steak and scrambled eggs. Many doctors still consider arterial hardening to be irreversible, but a new breed of cardiologists has a different view; arterial plaque can be measured, controlled, and even reversed.
What can you do to reduce your own risk of heart disease (or even reverse it if it has already progressed)? Well, don’t listen to me — I have no medical credentials whatsoever. But you might talk to your doctor about some of the evidence presented below.