Recommendation

Notes

Rationale

Eat foods high in essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel) and flaxseed and hempnut seed oils are omega-3-rich foods.

Omega-3 fats are heart-healthy fats, improving cardiovascular health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and blood pressure. No need to supplement with arachidonic and linoleic acids, EFAs already abundant in the average diet. Avoid or reduce consumption of saturated fats.

Eat potassium-rich foods.

Virtually all fruits and most vegetables contain potassium.

Increasing dietary potassium can alleviate hypertension, or high blood pressure, by improving the balance between sodium and potassium. Bananas have only about 10 percent more potassium than other fruits, such as oranges.

Use garlic.

Because garlic is a natural blood thinner, discuss its use with your doctor if you take other blood-thinning agents, like coumadin or aspirin.

Garlic (Allium sativum), from the lily family, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, stimulates the immune system, and may help prevent cancers of the gastrointestinal tract and prostate.

Eat foods rich in zinc.

Seafood and liver are excellent sources of zinc. Brewer's yeast, milk, beans and wheat germ also contain some zinc.

Zinc is an essential mineral for human health, especially for prostate function, helping regulate cell division, growth, and the immune system. It is involved in sperm formation and testosterone metabolism. There is no scientific evidence to support the long-standing notion that eating oysters, a zinc-rich food, improves potency.

Take vitamin E supplements.

The antioxidant vitamin E appears to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease and may, in conjunction with selenium, reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

In conjunction with vitamin C, vitamin E inhibits the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. Vitamin E may also reduce the blood's ability to clot, lowering the risk of heart attacks. Vitamin E may reduce inflammation associated with coronary artery disease. It's difficult to obtain enough vitamin E through dietary measures only. Look for "natural" vitamin E (preferably containing mixed tocopherols).

Get enough selenium.

A diet rich in fish, whole grains and nuts is likely to provide enough dietary selenium.

Selenium, a trace mineral and an antioxidant, appears to play a key role in reducing the risk of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. Make sure the supplement is an organic form from yeast, not sodium selenite.

Sources: Natural Therapeutics Pocket Guide, by James LaValle (Lexi-Comp 2000); UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, www.berkeleywellness.com.