Breast milk is well known to be one of the best sources of nutrition for baby. Now, recent studies are showing that mom’s milk can also be an excellent option for fighting heart disease in both mom and baby. One of the leading causes of heart disease is a high amount of fat or cholesterol in the blood. This fat and cholesterol builds plaque in the heart vessels (coronary arteries). The plaque can harden, block the arteries and cause a heart attack. It is now known that this plaque can start to build and damage heart vessels as early as the age of two. Currently, medications called statins are prescribed to reduce the levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood. However, multiple studies are providing evidence that breast milk may work better than cholesterol-lowering medication in reducing heart disease.
Mom’s Heart Health
Research done in various countries indicates that babies fed with Mom’s breast milk for at least three months have a 10% less chance of experiencing cardiovascular incidents such as stroke or heart attack. Also, breastfeeding itself lowers mom’s risk of the following diseases:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia)
All of these illnesses are leading factors known to increase the risk of heart disease.
Baby’s Heart Health
Breast milk protects baby from a host of illnesses. Babies that are breastfed exclusively for six months or more seem to receive the most protection. Large studies have shown that the benefits for breastfed infants may carry on well into adulthood by continuing to reduce the risks associated with heart disease.
How does this work? Scientists are not sure, but suggest the following possibilities:
- Mom’s first milk, called colostrum, possess immune factors that coat the mucous membranes of the infant’s nose, throat and intestines. This provides a protective layer of “disease fighting” immunity.
- Breastfed babies have reduced levels of proteins which may be associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Breast milk may also help reduce baby’s chance of developing high-risk factors leading to heart disease such as hypertension, type II diabetes, hyperlipidemia and obesity.
Continue Fighting Heart Disease: Vitamins for the Heart
Continue fighting heart disease with heart healthy vitamins. As baby grows, his need for healthy nutrients increases. Mom can ensure the healthy nutrition she’s getting is passed on to baby through breastfeeding. Supplements that can promote heart health may include vitamin E, beta carotene, and antioxidants. Taking supplemental vitamins for the heart can benefit both mom and baby for years to come.
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death in the United States and other developed countries around the world. Breastfeeding is a natural, healthy option to reduce the risk factors associated with heart disease. Combined with vitamins for the heart, breastfeeding may be a way to fight the epidemic of heart disease.