The heart is the key organ in the circulatory system. Almost like a pump, its main function is to propel blood throughout the body via the circulatory system, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and removing carbon dioxide and other wastes. So, obviously, it's imperative that we keep this organ healthy.
However, there can be a lot of obstacles involved that can prevent us from keeping our heart at a 100% all the time, especially as we get older. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is considered to be one of the biggest disease-related causes of death around the world. People are constantly reminded and encouraged by their doctors to eat well and exercise regularly in order to maintain a healthy heart. Some patients are even prescribed heart medications from their doctors that can be pricey and sometimes come along unwanted side effects.
But there are cheaper alternatives that are easily accessible and that can be utilized. Dietary supplements can often be a powerful, affordable weapon in the fight against Cardiovascular disease (CVD). Here are some of the best.
1. Omega-3s: Omega 3 fatty acids are awesome! They not only help with the heart, but also have been shown to help with brain health, fighting depression and anxiety, eye health, skin health, and much more. Omega-3s have been found to improve numerous heart disease risk factors. However, omega-3 supplements do not reduce the risk of heart attacks or strokes. The two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are good for your health—especially your heart health. This is because of these acids' ability to reduce the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and maintain healthy blood pressure. The issue with most American diets is that they don't have enough omega-3 and instead have way too much omega-6's, which can actually increase the risk of inflammation and heart disease. So make sure to get in your Omega 3's. A healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is around 2:1. Some great sources of Omega 3's include: Salmon, Fish Oil supplements, Cod Liver Oil, Atlantic Mackerel, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Herring, Flaxseeds, Albacore Tuna, Hemp Seeds, Omega 3 Eggs, and Sardines. If you don't eat fish a couple of times a week, consider supplementing with 500 milligrams EPA and DHA to protect your heart.
2. Thiamine (Vitamin B-1): Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) a.k.a. the "anti-stress" vitamin is crucial for strengthening the immune system and improving your body's ability to deal with stress. Thiamine has also been shown to helps keep the heart muscles flexible and working smoothly so your heart can pump at maximum efficiency. A 2012 study done by Schoenenberger on patients with chronic heart failure found that thiamine improved cardiac function in as little as four weeks. If your diet is low in meat, dairy, or grains fortified with B-1, try supplementing with a multivitamin that contains around 100 milligrams of thiamine. Some examples of food high in Thiamine include: beef, liver, dried milk, nuts, oats, oranges, pork, eggs, seeds, legumes, peas and yeast.
3. Magnesium: The highest levels of magnesium in your body are found in your heart, so it's no surprise that low levels of magnesium are closely associated with cardiovascular disease. A 2013 study (from Qu, X., Jin, F., Hao, Y., Li, H., Tang, T., Wang, H. & Dai, K.) of data from more than 500,000 participants found those who consumed more magnesium had a lower risk of developing atherosclerosis, hypertension, and heart disease. Some great sources of food that have magnesium include: Whole Grains, Spinach, Swiss chard, Dark Chocolate, Pumpkin seeds, Almonds, Black beans, Avocado, Dried Figs, Yogurt or kefir, & Bananas. If you are not getting enough magnesium (which is most likely the case in most people), take a magnesium supplement of 400-800 milligrams a day, you can make sure your heart has the magnesium it needs to work well.
4. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): This vitamin is found in almost every cell in your body, it helps convert food into useable energy. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your heart against potential damage caused during periods of high stress. Your body naturally produces small amounts of CoQ10. This however decreases with age, so taking a supplement may help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease. Although more research is needed in this area, supplementing with 100-200 milligrams of CoQ10 per day may help offset a natural decline in production levels and support a healthy heart.
5. Green Tea: Green Tea is high in antioxidant properties of polyphenols (a fancy name for the compounds found in green tea) that help reduce free-radical damage to cells. Polyphenols also inhibit the development of plaque on the walls of the arteries, potentially decreasing your risk of heart attacks and stroke. You should try to get in at least 3 or more cups of green tea a day, if you can't make that happen then try supplementing with 300-400 milligrams of green tea extract should produce the same benefits.
6. Beetroot: Beetroot are packed full of nitrates that improve exercise performance. They can give your muscles that fuller look and can reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health. Beetroot juice is one of the richest dietary sources of nitrates and has been shown in multiple studies to lower blood pressure in healthy adults. Making high-nitrate foods such as beets and leafy greens part of your diet may be enough to decrease your risk for hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Try supplementing your diet with 100 milligrams of beetroot extract per day.
So these are just some of many helpful supplements, vitamins and minerals that can aid in keeping your heart healthy. But at the end of the day these are just supplements and should not be solely relied upon. These are tools one should unitize for sure, but a healthy diet and working out regularly will the best bang for your buck in order to be healthy on an overall level!