Take It to Heart By Pamela Serure

(Pages 185 through 190)

Nutrition for Heart Disease

By Sally Kravich, holistic nutritionist, author of Vibrant Living: Creating Radiant Health and Longevity

I’ve studied health and longevity modalities from around the world: the Amazon, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Fiji, India, and here in the United States. In my bicoastal practice, I’ve worked with women for over twenty-five years to improve and integrate the health of body, mind, and soul. Usually, I meet with these women in person to find out their goals and put them on a program of stress management, exercise, food, and nutrients for optimum well-being. Here I’m going to present you with a few general rules that apply to most women with heart disease. However, please consult a physician before implementing any major lifestyle changes.


The food that you eat must have the ability to be broken down, absorbed, and eliminated by your body. Here are a few rules to live by, which I call nonnegotiable.

Get rid of all man-made products. Avoid all fake sugars, fake sweeteners, fake creamers, fake ice cream, and margarine. These products don’t have the enzymes contained in real foods, they are insoluble fats, and so our bodies can’t break them down. As a result, these fats tend to clump up and form cysts, contributing to illnesses like heart disease, tumors, and cancer.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. I recommend consuming at least six to eight servings of veggies and two to three servings of fruit per day. Veggies are the repairers. They build new cells and provide nutrients to ensure healing. Fruits are cleansers. One word of caution: People on heart disease medications (e.g. Coumadin, which is a blood thinner) sometimes are told not to consume a lot of dark, leafy greens, such as spinach, dandelion greens, and kale, because these are blood thickeners. However, these veggies are a great source of nutrients, some of the best. So I recommend counteracting the blood-thickening effect by upping your intake of olive oil, fish oil, and sesame seed, which are natural blood thinners. Please be sure to talk to your doctor about this.

Consume good bacteria. Your body needs healthy bacteria to help you digest your food and absorb all its nutrients. I recommend that my clients consume these bacteria daily. They are found naturally in yogurt. If you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, you can take an acidophilus supplement.

Eat whole grains. Avoid all products made from white flour, such as white bread and regular pasta, but even keep your consumption of whole wheat low. Try to eat more brown rice, quinoa, millet, rye, and corn-meal instead.

Consume foods to get your circulatory system moving. Specifically, try to add more cayenne pepper, garlic, and parsley to your diet to help naturally reduce your blood pressure.

Avoid processed sugar and caffeine. Women these days are generally so stressed that we burn out our adrenal glands, which is terrible for our health. It throws our hormones out of balance and makes us feel exhausted all the time. The usual response to being tired is to consume caffeine and sugar, but the more you do, the worse it gets. You get a temporary rush, but then you come crashing down harder than ever. I advise that you avoid processed sugar and caffeine as much as possible, although it’s okay to drink a cup or two of green tea each day.


You can’t get all the nutrients you need from our over-farmed, overdepleted soil and foods that have been picked, processed, and shipped too often and too soon. So I recommend that you supplement your diet with the following substances.

Vitamin B complex. These are the antistress vitamins. They nourish the nervous system, help us manage stress and anxiety, and balance our hormones. They’re like the electrical wiring in our bodies. Take at least one hundred milligrams per day of vitamin B complex. You may also want to add a little extra B12 in order to help your body turn the greens you consume into usable iron, and a folic acid supplement, which promotes heart health. B6 acts as a natural diuretic, so try to avoid taking it if you’re on medications that are diuretics. You should take these vitamins during the day.

Fatty acids (omega-3, -6, and -9). If B vitamins are the body’s electrical wiring, then fatty acids are the insulation tape. The best kind of fatty acid for the heart is fish oil, with flaxseed oil as a second choice. I recommend trying to get your fish oil from wild-caught fresh fish, or frozen if you must. I advise against canned fish because these tend to absorb aluminum from the can. However, you can also take fish- and flaxseed-oil supplements if you don’t want to eat fish. It’s best to take these at night because they tend to cause burping. Freezing them first and taking them with food will also help alleviate this unpleasant side effect.

Calcium. Calcium is the grounding cord for your nervous system. It’s an emotional and structural support, and it’s very important for the heart muscle. Magnesium works well with calcium to help relieve stress, so you can also take a calcium-magnesium supplement. Take these pills at bedtime to help promote good sleep.

CoQ10. This enzyme helps keep your circulatory system in excellent working order. Take fifty to two hundred milligrams per day, depending on your state of health. Please consult with a health-care specialist to determine how much is right for you.

Natural substances to reduce cholesterol. Most women with heart disease have high cholesterol levels. To bring your cholesterol levels down naturally, consume plenty of dark, leafy greens and grapefruit, but also try these herbal preparations: Chinese red yeast rice extract and guggal lipids (used in Ayurvedic medicine).


In addition to eating right and consuming the proper supplements, it’s crucial to your overall health and wellness that you take care of your body by moving and breathing. I’m a big fan of yoga, which accomplishes both at the same time, and helps reduce stress. Some people enjoy doing cardio exercise as well, which is great. You should exercise at least thirty minutes most days of the week. I also consider massage and deep body work a necessity, not a luxury.

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Sally Kravich

M.S. Holistic Nutrition
Author & Speaker
Body & Soul Nutrition

New York + 1-212-946-1623
Los Angeles + 1-310-285-3528

Contact Sally

As seen in

Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Essence, Natural Health, Better Nutrition, Dateline, Donny&Marie, W.B. News, WOR Radio NYC, KPFK Radio LA, The Hair Bible, Take it to Heart, and Self-Seduction. You will also find her referenced in upcoming books in Fall 2011 as the nutritional expert on foods for children and a beauty book.