The heart may be the most important organ in the body, though I’m sure your brain would disagree. It pumps tirelessly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide much needed blood. Many factors can weaken the heart such as age, poor dietary choices, sedentary lifestyle, and others.
Around 30% of all global deaths are a result of heart disease and related illnesses. Almost 1/3 of people will experience it, which means it is a certainty that you know someone for whom heart disease was their end. This is why it’s so important to maintain good heart health. There are many supplements for heart health that we can take, and these also provide other health benefits as well. Read on and check out the best supplements you can take for optimum heart health.
Best Supplements for Heart Health
Named after the protagonist of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, arjuna is an ancient tree whose bark has been found to possess properties, flavonoids, and active ingredients that are highly beneficial for cardiovascular health. Arjuna works by regenerating heart muscles and stimulating proper heart function, while preventing arrhythmia and minimizing risk of blood clots. Clinical trials in India show that arjuna is more effective than the prescribed drug for treating angina and for ensuring proper heart pumping. Aside from its antihypertensive and cardio-protective properties, arjuna also has strong antioxidant capabilities that protect not only the heart but the entire body from the ravages of free-radicals. Health stores, especially those with herbs that come from Ayurvedic medicine, sell dried bark and powdered forms of arjuna aside from the usual capsule and extract. The powder form can be stirred into beverages and drank, while the dried bark can be soaked and ground to squeeze out the juice from within.
Present in virtually every kitchen worldwide, garlic is also a staple when it comes to keeping a healthy heart. The herb is proven to keep blood pressure levels under control, bolster the immunities against heart diseases, and eliminating the amount of bad cholesterol in the body (also known as LDL cholesterol). Its potent benefits for the heart are believed to originate from allicin, an active ingredient in garlic that gives it that distinct taste and smell. There are many ways to prepare garlic and dishes that make use of it, but a specific method of preparation is important in order to make the most out of its health benefits. Chop or crush the herb and let it sit for a little while to allow its active ingredients to work, as immediately tossing it to boiling water or changing its temperature in any way will weaken the herb’s properties for the heart and body. There is yet to be a final say regarding which method of taking garlic is the most ideal way, whether by eating it or taking a supplement, but regardless its benefits for the heart are beyond any doubt.
An alkaloid found in many plants that has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is well-known for its potency in maintaining proper blood sugar levels and lipid metabolism, and its efficacy often puts it in comparison to the drug metformin. Its other celebrated benefit is its enhancement of hormones such as adiponectin, leptin, and insulin, or better known as the hormones that keep fat in check. With the intake of berberine, coupled by a healthy diet and regular exercise, weight loss follows. Various studies have shown that the alkaloid also possesses protective properties for the heart by lowering cholesterol levels and blood triglycerides. As berberine tackles weight loss and proper blood sugar and cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease is greatly lowered. Dosages of berberine are recommended to be taken thrice a day due to its half-life that lasts only several hours. 500 mg is the most common recommended dosage, but of course coordinate with a doctor to see how much you specifically need.
An excess of sodium in the body is a major contributor to heart disease, and nowadays it seems virtually impossible to eat without the presence of salt in the ingredients of our food. To reduce the accumulated amount of sodium, the intake of potassium in supplement and dietary forms is of utmost importance. Potassium facilitates the elimination of sodium through urine, however a deficiency in the mineral can cause sodium levels to spike hence maintenance is very crucial. Foods rich in potassium include papayas, bananas, raisins, kiwis, potatoes, and watermelons. Eat more of these foods and limit your intake of sodium-packed chow.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is crucial in the maintenance of healthy skin, teeth, and bones, for proper wound healing, and for the bolstering of the immune system. As an antioxidant, vitamin C reverses the damage wrought by free radicals and protects the body from future attacks from these toxins. Proper levels of the vitamin in the body are linked to lower risk of heart disease and spiking blood pressure. It is believed that the vitamin keeps the arteries flexible which prevents blood clots and plaque from building up. Get your fix of vitamin C by eating green vegetables and citrus fruits.
Guggul is derived from the gum resin of the mukul myrrh tree and is part of the Ayurvedic system due to its therapeutic properties especially for the heart. Similar to omega-3, guggul lowers triglyceride and high cholesterol levels and it has the additional benefits of enhancing immunities and helping in weight loss. How exactly guggul works in lowering cholesterol is still not completely determined, but so far it is believed that this process is done by improving the liver’s breakdown of cholesterol and its excretion through bile. Guggul is available mostly in capsule and powder form, while its resin is sold in ounces online.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and sudden cardiac death. Low levels of the vitamin can trigger an increase in the buildup of calcium which then leads to arterial plaque. Aside from that, deficiencies in vitamin D increase the risk of the other triggers of cardiovascular problems like obesity and diabetes. Begin your D-Day against heart disease by consuming more fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and milk. Spend more time under the sun, or better yet do regular exercise while in sunlight to further bolster heart health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be among the best supplements for heart health. It gets the job done by reducing the levels of triglycerides, as having too much of it can greatly increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. Aside from that, omega-3’s decrease blood pressure and clotting, ensure proper heartbeats, and maintain high levels of good (or HDL) cholesterol. Flax seed oils and fish oils are rich in omega-3, followed by certain seafood like halibut, mackerel, tuna, and salmon. Two servings a week is the recommended intake set by the American Heart Association, or more if you happen to have an existing heart problem or excessive triglyceride levels.
Dong quai is commonly known as the “female ginseng” due to its benefits that mostly address health problems that women face. However, for both men and women, dong quai ensures better blood quality and heart health thanks to its good number of antiarrhythmic compounds. Not only blood flow is enhanced, the contractions of the heart are also normalized. Dong quai can be purchased in root and dried leaf forms which are used for tea or tinctures. Always check the ligustilide of dong quai when you’re out to buy it in pill or liquid form, make sure that it is around 0.8 to 1.1 percent. Ligustilide is dong quai’s component that is linked to the herb’s heart-friendly benefits.
Remember that this article is written for informational purposes only and is based on research. Never substitute actual medical advice with the things that you read online. Always seek first the opinion of an expert regarding these supplements to determine which of them is right for you, what dosage you might need, and to avoid possible complications.
Have you tried any of these supplements? Do you know other supplements that are good for heart health? Let us know in the comments.