Ken Babal, staff nutritionist, Erewhon Natural Foods, Los Angeles on the use of nutritional therapy as an alternative treatment for heart disease:

Well, it was Dr. Dean Ornish at UC San Francisco who actually showed to the medical establishment that you can reverse the plaque that corrodes arteries. It used to be we thought this was something that was irreversible. He has shown that with a near vegetarian diet, stress management and exercise, that you can actually reverse the plaque buildup. But we have many supplements that are very valuable. Because we don't eat a perfect diet, we're lacking these things.

If we look at some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease like high cholesterol, for example, one of the most powerful things we have, drug or vitamin, is niacin which happens to be, a B vitamin for lowering cholesterol. In fact, the government's own recommendations advise doctors first try diet. If that doesn't succeed, try niacin therapy to bring down the cholesterol level. And vitamin E. The level of vitamin E in your bloodstream may determine your risk factors more so than the cholesterol.

What about high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is another risk factor. Calcium and magnesium can be of benefit there. You have muscles around the vasculature that squeeze and make the blood pressure go up. Calcium and magnesium have a relaxing effect on that. And of course getting lots of potassium in the diet is going to oppose the sodium for those that are sensitive. Best way to do that is get your four or five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday.

See more alternative therapies for heart disease.