Though doctors aren’t sure why, arthritis and heart disease seem to go hand-in-hand.

A 2009 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found that arthritis affected 57 percent of adults who had been diagnosed with heart disease, compared with just 27 percent of adults in the general population.

And previous research has found that a diagnosis of systemic, inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, doubles the risk of having a heart attack within 10 years.

So, even though day-in and day-out, it’s your hinges that are hurting, you should pay as much attention to your heart as you do to your joints. Having healthy cholesterol levels is a good place to start.

There are three main types of blood fats that doctors worry about. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol is the “bad” cholesterol that can stick together and build up on the inner walls of the arteries. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, on the other hand, is the “good” cholesterol, cleaning harmful cholesterol out of the arteries. Triglycerides are a common form of fat in food and also the kind storied by the body. The American Heart Association says optimal cholesterol numbers are less than 100 for LDL; more than 40 for HDL in men and more than 50 for HDL in women; and less than 150 for triglycerides.

While nothing can replace prescription medication if your cholesterol is dangerously high, you could be able to cut back on the medication you currently take by incorporating some of the natural solutions that follow. And if your cholesterol numbers are already good, adding some of these power foods and supplements to your diet can help keep your heart strong for years to come.

But remember, adding any new food or supplement to your diet may interfere with your current medications or cause other reactions. Be sure to talk to your doctor before incorporating these into your daily regimen.

Soy

What it is: Soy is a particularly versatile protein from the soybean plant, a species of legume native to Southeast Asia.

How it can help: You may remember the buzz, about a decade ago, about soy improving heart health. That’s when products containing soy began to have labels stating 25 grams of soy protein daily could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol.