Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Homocysteine and your heart

Homocysteine is an intermediate, a chemical released when you metabolize (digest) protein. Unlike other amino acids, which are vital to your health, homocysteine can be hazardous to your heart, raising your risk of heart disease by attacking cells in the lining of your arteries by making them reproduce more quickly (the extra cells may block your coronary arteries) or by causing your blood to clot (ditto).
Years and years ago, before cholesterol moved to center stage, some smart heart researchers labeled homocysteine the major nutritional culprit in heart disease. Today, they’ve been vindicated. The American Heart Association cites high homocysteine levels as an independent probable (but not major) risk factor for heart disease, perhaps explaining why some people with low cholesterol have heart attacks. But wait! The good news is that information from several studies, including the Harvard/ Brigham and Women’s Hospital Nurses’ Health Study in Boston, suggest that a diet rich in the B vitamin folate lowers blood levels of homocysteine. Most fruits and vegetables have plentiful amounts of folate. Stocking up on them may protect your heart.

No comments: