Health Column: 5 steps to improve cardiovascular health |

Health Column: 5 steps to improve cardiovascular health

Christoper Lepisto, N.D.
Free Press Health Columnist

Conflicting dietary recommendations can be annoying. The amount of faddishness is astounding, and many of these diets are difficult and far too extreme. I often wonder about the latest “miracle food” and whether or not someone just decided that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Instead I’d like to offer five practical and perhaps surprising ways to improve your cardiovascular health.


That’s really all it takes. Essentially, eat more nutritive foods 80 percent of the time, saving all the rest for the moderate 20 percent. The Mediterranean approach has the best research backing cardiovascular benefits and it’s a fine place to start.

A healthy diet includes good hydration, drinking 1/3 of your body weight in ounces of water every day (i.e. – 50 oz. for a 150-pound person).

One should also remember that good oils are good for you; make olive oil your primary fat. Extra virgin olive oil does not tolerate heat well, so either buy “light” olive oils or coconut oil, which will tolerate heat better (no oils should smoke).

Wild caught salmon adds even more of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and helps round out the important proteins.

Add dark leafy greens as much as you like and round out your nutrition with whole grains such as oats, rye, barley, brown rice, millet, spelt, amaranth and quinoa.

Keep salt moderated to less than 2000 mg. daily and utilize a sea salt with a nice pinkish or grayish color to ensure trace mineral presence.


It only takes 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week for benefit, or up to five times a week before diminishing returns on your efforts. A related factor here is that meditation really does work. Research has shown that meditation programs may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and reduce heart attack risk. However, it’s arguable that many of these benefits are obtainable by simply relaxing and enjoy something. In other words, walking the dog could be a perfect form of meditation.


Research demonstrates that supplements really do work. The following summary is provided by Robert Kachko, N.D., Lac.:

CoQ10: This is an essential nutrient for the health of your heart muscle, as it plays a vital role in energy production in your mitochondria. It is also a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger.

Taurine: This amino acid helps to protect the heart and to improve the symptoms related to heart failure.

Propionyl-L-carnitine: This nutrient is cardioprotective, vasodilatory, lipid lowering, and improves energy production of the heart.

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha): This herb relaxes blood vessels, increases the strength of the heart muscle, and controls heart rate.


This follows the naturopathic principle of “Remove Obstacles to Cure.” The underlying causes of sleep apnea are many, but improving the quality of sleep and oxygenation of the blood overnight is a significant reduction of inflammation in the heart and vessels of the body.


This is related to the sleep apnea in that both are causes of chronic inflammation. People who have had rheumatic heart disease (a bacterial affectation of the heart) must take antibiotics because of the amount of bacteria released into the blood stream with any dental cleaning or procedures. In other words, addressing any bacteria presence in the mouth can prevent an inflammatory process in the rest of the body.

Christopher Lepisto, a Free Press health columnist, graduated as a naturopathic doctor (N.D.) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit or call 970-250-4104.

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