Since the 1950’s the medical industry has been selling the myth that high cholesterol causes heart attacks. But here’s the truth. As cholesterol levels in American citizens have gone down, heart disease has not. It remains the number one cause of death in the United States.
However, there is a better warning system for heart attacks – measuring telomeres.
Telomeres are the little countdown clocks at the end of the chromosomes. They prevent DNA strands from unraveling.
During young age telomeres are long, but every time a cell divides the telomeres get shorter. Cells die when telomeres are too short to protect DNA. Consequently, you start to develop the signs and diseases of old age – including heart disease.
Telomeres are one of the best signals if someone is at risk for a heart attack according to recent studies.
Researchers measured the telomere lengths of nearly 4000 heart attack patients within 24 hours of their attacks. They discovered that the heart attack victims had shorter telomere lengths when compared to a healthy control group.
In fact, every time telomere length decreased by one unit, heart attack risk more than doubled.
How to protect your telomeres and keep your heart healthy
Here are four things you can do at home to keep your telomeres long and your heart healthy:
1. Take more omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids activate an enzyme called telomerase that helps repair and rebuild your telomeres.
That can lead to longer telomeres. One study discovered that people with the lowest levels of omega-3 fats had the fastest telomere shortening over a 5-year period. Those with the highest levels had the slowest shortening.
The best animal sources of omega-3s are wild, cold-water, fish like pollock, salmon, tuna, lake trout and herring. Great plant sources are raw nuts and seeds, like walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds.
However, it’s almost impossible to get enough omega-3s from your diet. You’ll want to supplement. Try to get 3 grams of omega-3s every day.
See also: Your body will give you these 10 signs if your kidney is in danger
2. Take a potent antioxidant
Vitamin C in your cells can slow down the shortening of telomeres up to 62%. It also stimulates telomerase activity.
To protect telomeres, start taking 5,000 mg to 8,000 mg vitamin C every day. Be sure to divide that amount into smaller doses throughout the day.
3. Boost folic acid
Folic acid or folate is one of the B vitamins (B9). Studies show men with the highest folic acid levels have longer telomeres than those with low folate.
Folate works by countering the effects of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine in your blood can triple the speed at which your telomeres shorten.
Start taking 800 mcg of folic acid every day for your telomeres. Calf’s liver is one of the richest sources with 215 mcg in just three ounces. Dairy, poultry, meat, eggs, and seafood are other good choices. Among vegetables, dark leafy greens are a good source. Try spinach, broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.
See also: 10 Signs you may have a thyroid problem
4. Exercise more
Studies show people who do little or no exercise have the highest risk of short telomeres. A study of 2401 twins found vigorous exercise can lead to longer telomeres. Their telomeres acted nine years younger.