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Eating Right for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

Author: Mansour Assar, M.D., FACC

Considering the fact that 12 to 20 percent of individuals over the age of 60 have PAD (peripheral arterial disease), older Americans should be especially diligent about doing everything they can to prevent this disease. PAD, which causes blockages in the lower legs and prevents healthy blood flow back to the heart, can lead to a number of health problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

Today, I’d like to share some information with you about eating a healthy diet for PAD. In addition to quitting smoking and lowering your blood pressure, eating a PAD-friendly diet may reduce your risk and symptoms – without the use of medication.

Two Top PAD Diet Culprits: Fat & Sodium

Blood lipids (fats) and sodium are two things you should focus on when eating a diet that prevents peripheral arterial disease. These two dietary culprits can have major adverse effects on your arteries. Find out how…

Blood Fats include triglycerides and cholesterol. Cholesterol, which is produced in the liver, is a waxy substance in your bloodstream. HDL “healthy” cholesterol helps transport blood cholesterol back to the liver where it’s removed from the body. Having a healthy amount of HDL cholesterol isn’t just good; it’s necessary.

LDL “bad” cholesterol, on the other hand, can build up inside the arterial walls, blocking blood flow and increasing your risk for peripheral arterial disease. Diet and exercise can help reduce LDL cholesterol buildup.

And those triglycerides? They’re also fats, which are stored in the bloodstream and used for energy. Like cholesterol, having a certain amount of triglycerides is a healthy thing. But too many triglycerides can lead to heart disease and PAD.

When you do eat fat, eat a PAD-friendly diet that includes unsaturated fats like fish, nuts, and seeds. Avoid foods high in saturated fats (red meat, butter, and whole milk).

Sodium is another top dietary culprit behind PAD. However, eliminating sodium is about more than replacing your saltshaker with low-sodium seasonings. It’s also important to cut back on your intake of processed meats, fast food, and other convenient foods like canned soup and processed cheese.

As I tell my patients, making healthy dietary changes is easier now – before PAD develops – than having to make changes later on down the road. Why wait?

For more information about eating a healthy diet with PAD, call Advanced Heart & Vascular Institute at (602) 507-6002.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.


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