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Top 5 Pros (and Cons) of Alternative Therapies for Maintaining Heart Health


Pro: General Wellness

Antioxidants may improve heart health, but vegetables definitely promote wellness.
Antioxidants may improve heart health, but vegetables definitely promote wellness.
Harrison Eastwood/Lifesize/Getty Images

An alternative treatment like yoga or dance (dance therapy is in the group of creative outlets for stress reduction) has the exercise component that we all need. Some alternative treatments work major muscle groups, an exertion that can help the body supply oxygen to tissue more effectively and keep your weight down. This is good for both the heart and overall health. Cells can do their jobs better when they've got all the oxygen they need. These types of therapies can also improve mood and energy level.

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But what about all the foods you're supposed to eat to help your heart stay healthy? There's plenty of evidence that soy, certain vitamins and antioxidants and various enzymes can benefit the heart. For instance, beta-carotene (found in carrots and other orange vegetables) is often recommended for heart health for its antioxidant effects. Some research shows that eating one cup of carrots every day can decrease the risk of developing heart disease by up to 60 percent [source: WHF].

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­While the scientific jury is still out on whether this effect should be attributed to antioxidants, especially when it comes to using supplements instead of natural antioxidant supplies, eating fresh vegetables has definite health benefits even if those benefits don't come from antioxidants. Vegetables help keep weight down and supply the body with essential nutrients. There's no downside. It's similar with olive oil -- even if the oil's antioxidants aren't the heart heroes, it's still healthy in a conventional way due to its monounsaturated fats, which lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and raise HDL "good" cholesterol.

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­And speaking of olive oil -- a bottle of the good "extra virgin" stuff can cost as much as $15 at the grocery store. That's steep for a bottle of oil, but it's cheap compared to prescription cholesterol-lowering drugs.


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