6 MEN’S HEALTH One diet that has proven effective is the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in minimally processed plant foods and omega-3 fatty acids. This way of eating is so effective that it’s been favorably compared to drug treatments in The American Journal of Medicine for reducing high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. The other diet that has been proven to be of benefit is a modified low- carbohydrate diet, which reduces carbohydrate intake from starches. Coronary Artery Calcification Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is the result of calcium being deposited inside the coronary arteries. As calcium gradually builds up in the endothelium, it forms layers of plaque that eventually cause arteries to harden and become narrow. Several factors can increase your chances of having CAC.These include high cortisol levels, smaller, more dense LDL cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. CAC is also more common after the age of 45. Heart-Smart Supplements A healthy lifestyle can help protect your cardiovascular system and enhance circulation. But adding the following supplements can give your arteries the extra protection they need as you age. Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) may have the single biggest impact on heart health of any known dietary supplement. Research suggests that it supports healthy blood pressure and reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol levels, lowers homocysteine levels, and improves elasticity of blood vessel walls. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial recently found that AGE, when combined with other nutrients, can significantly reduce coronary artery calcification that contributes to reduced blood flow and less vessel flexibility. The study, which was conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, involved 65 cardiac patients who were given either an AGE supplement that also contained vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, and l-arginine or a placebo daily for one year. By the end of the study, those taking the supplement had significantly less plaque buildup in their coronary arteries, lower total and LDL cholesterol, and lower homocysteine levels. Plus, their HDL levels had gone up. Coenzyme Q10 is a cofactor for producing energy to all the cells in the body. It also supports healthy circulation by inhibiting the formation of blood clots and acts as an antioxidant. Recent findings in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry show that CoQ10 protects arteries by preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Plus recent findings from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center report that a combination of Aged Garlic Extract and CoQ10 reduced the progression of CAC in the arteries of firefighters 3.99 fold compared to a placebo. Since this is a fat-soluble nutrient, you can enhance absorption by taking it with a meal containing a little bit of fat. Testosterone and Your Heart Research shows that many men with low testosterone levels have also a higher risk of being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Coincidence? Not according to studies conducted at the University of Sheffield, U.K. that linked low testosterone to an uptick in atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, and heart attack. If you are at a higher risk of heart disease, ask your doctor to check your testosterone levels.