THE 30-DAY HEART TUNE-UP:A Breakthrough Medical Plan to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Steven Masley, M.D., Center Street, 386 pp., $16.

 

Dr. Steven Masley, a Florida physician and a fellow with the American Heart Association -- whose "30 Days to a Younger Heart" was a popular PBS special last year -- says that he wrote this book to help people reverse arterial plaque, which he calls "the real culprit" behind heart disease, this country's largest killer.

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He takes a four-pronged approach: diet, exercise, stress management and supplements.

Masley's "five easy-to-remember categories of heart-healing foods" are fiber (30 to 50 grams a day, including nuts, beans, oats, fruits and veggies -- but not most grains); healthy fats; "clean" proteins (grass-fed, etc.); "beneficial beverages," such as green tea, and "fabulous flavors," including fresh garlic, dark chocolate and turmeric.

THE SCOOP Masley suggests talking to your doctor about taking some diagnostic tests, including the carotid intimal medial thickness (carotid IMT) test, which he writes can assess future cardiovascular disease risk -- and also be a baseline to see if your heart is getting healthier. Or sicker.

THE BOTTOM LINE Masley writes that reducing stress is key: "Excessive unmanaged stress increases cortisol and adrenaline hormone production, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes." Massage, yoga -- and even hot baths -- can help.