10 Powerful Ways to Improve Heart Health
It goes without saying that the health of your heart should be a major priority of any choices we make for our body. It is our engine room – we need it to keep pumping and pumping strongly, to ensure a long and healthy life. There are four important ways to improve heart health. First, we need to make sure our cholesterol levels are low. Then, we should take care to make sure our blood pressure is healthy – which can be helped with the better health of our blood vessels in general. Third, we need to control the amounts of free radicals in our cells – which can cause damage to our DNA and stop important maintenance and cell renewal. Finally, we need to take control of inflammation in our body. Chronic inflammation is thought to be the major cause for many life threatening diseases, including heart disease.
Therefore, when looking for supplements to help your heart you need to choose options that will control these elements in your body. Let’s begin with the most obvious – the control of blood pressure.
High blood pressure increases your chances of a heart attack because it puts blood vessels under great pressure. So, choosing supplements that can calm the body and ease open the blood vessels can only be a good thing.
Tip Number 1: Valerian Root
So, number one in this top ten of powerful aids for your heart is Valerian Root. Valerian Root is known best for helping us cope with anxiety. However, it also has a calming impact on the body, as well as on the mind. Some studies have been confident in Valerian Root’s ability to lower blood pressure. Gymnema Sylvestre is a woody plant that is also thought to help with blood pressure. However, it is also good for controlling weight – as it stops us craving sugar. This in itself will have a secondary effect of helping the heart as you lose weight.
Tip Number 2: Garlic: However, Garlic is number two in the list of heart helping supplements. This is nothing new – garlic has long been known to help the heart – and is an important ingredient in the famous health properties of the Mediterranean diet. However, if you worry about the impact of garlic on your breath, then you should consider the odourless Garlic supplement. This creates Hydrogen Sulphide in the body – well known to help with the reduction of blood pressure. Basil, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger are also known to help blood pressure. So, maybe moving to the Indian sub-continent will be a real plus for your heart. Alternatively, if a move seems drastic, these can all be purchased in supplement form!
We are all told the importance of low cholesterol for our heart. We are aware that a high number is bad for us and some oils – particularly omega fish oils – can help to lower the number. These can be bought as supplements and taken regularly.
Tip Number 3: Green Tea
However, number three on the list of powerful supplements for our heart is Green Tea Extract. Green Tea contains many vitamins, including B vitamins, manganese, and potassium – all of which help with both cholesterol and blood pressure. 11 studies involving nearly a thousand people proved there to be a positive correlation between drinking Green Tea and a lowering of cholesterol – to the point where health organisations are willing to accept that it is something of a super supplement.
Tip Number 4: Apple Cider Vinegar
Number four on our list also helps with cholesterol – whilst having wonderful effects on our breath, our teeth, and our stomach. Apple Cider Vinegar has been found to have a positive benefit on cholesterol – for instance – in a 2006 study acetic acid was seen to help levels in rats and then a further study showed that an ounce of Apple Cider Vinegar a day could help to a significant degree.
Tip Number 5; Red Yeast Rice
However, it is statins that are prescribed by doctors as a preventative measure for heart disease, as caused by cholesterol. A great supplement comes in at number 5, as a natural provider of statins. Red Yeast Rice extract has about a dozen chemical compounds that are shared with statins. In addition, Red Yeast Rice contains good cholesterol – HDL – which is proven to help heart health. So, the supplement helps to fight LDL – the bad cholesterol and then offers good cholesterol. Quite the superstar for the heart.
When we get into the world of anti-oxidants we are into the real world of preventative heart damage. Our body is under attack every day, without us realising it. Free radicals are a type of highly reactive metabolite that is naturally produced by your body but whose production is increased by smoking, alcohol, and pollution in the air. Free radicals essentially steal electrons from the proteins in our body – as they do not have oxygen of their own – so they do a smash and grab raid on other electrons that do. This raid causes damage to cells at the level of DNA. This means that your body is less adept at healing itself – as important maintenance is interfered with. This maintenance is important to prevent aging – and nowhere more so than in the heart.
Some medics have called the impact of free radicals on the body as a “trail of biological carnage.” They literally eat away at the major organs – including the heart. Yes, it is the means by which we age and completely removing free radicals from our body would be the elixir of youth. However, modern life increases the free radicals in our body and causes such devastating problems for the health of our heart.
So, what is the answer to these criminals of our underworld? Well, the answer is anti-oxidants, which are electron donors and they are known to break down free radical chain reaction in the body. Organic Green Tea – which has already been said to help with cholesterol is also pretty good at breaking down free radicals. It contains – are you ready for this – epigallocatchin-3 gallate – or EGCG if the mouthful causes a headache! This is a catechin polyphenol – the most powerful anti-oxidant available – and known to lower the risk of heart attack.
Tip Number 6: Astragalus
Number six on our countdown of powerful heart helpers is Astragalus; it is also known as Huang Qi or Milk Vetch and is a bean or a legume. This boosts the immune system and is also known to help heart systems because it is an antioxidant that inhibits the damage to cells caused by free radicals.
Tip Number 7: Bilberry Fruit
Number seven on the list is Bilberry fruit. This is a relative of the blueberry – which is also felt to be a superfood because of its attack on free radicals. Furthermore, the bilberry has been known to help because of the bilberry bioflavonoids, which are beneficial to the connective tissue that lines blood vessels. So, not only good for the protection of DNA and major organs but helpful with the flow of blood in and out of the heart.
Along with free radicals, another villain to the heart is inflammation. When we injure ourselves, the body creates inflammation to protect the part of the body under repair. In this respect, it is an important benefit of our system – and one we cannot do without. However, chronic inflammation is very very bad. It is thought that chronic low-level inflammation is the major cause of almost every chronic Western disease in modern times – including heart disease. Therefore, any supplement that claims to be an anti-inflammatory will be of major benefit to the health of your heart.
Tip Number 8: Curcumin
Number eight on this list of heart health super powers is not only an anti-inflammatory but also an anti-oxidant too. Curcumin is the part of Turmeric that makes it that vibrant yellow colour. In turmeric it is only 3% of the active ingredient – therefore – you are unlikely to get enough from eating the spice alone. Therefore, Curcumin supplement is a real benefit to our health.
Curcumin blocks NF-kB, which is a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on the genes related to inflammation. Medics claim that NF-kB is the main villain in the increase in chronic inflammation and therefore the main contributor to chronic heart disease. Amazingly, Curcumin also stimulates the body’s natural process of creating anti-oxidants. So, it not only contains anti-inflammatory agents, and anti-oxidant agents but also encourages your body to fight the causes of heart disease using its own resources too.
This means that Curcumin is something of a wonder supplement. The problem is the body’s ability to absorb Curcumin is pretty limited. Nutritionists note that the bioavailability of the supplement is helped with black pepper – so some even go so far as to eat peppercorns with Curcumin supplement. If that seems a little extreme, then eating fatty meats is also a good option – as Curcumin is fat soluble. So, if we put these ideas together then eating a fatty steak with a peppercorn sauce, topped off with some Curcumin supplement ought to help with absorption. However, let’s get real, fatty red meat is reported to be one of the major contributors to poor heart health. So, sticking to supplements and seeking advice from your doctor might be a better option.
Tip Number 9: Ginger
Number nine on our list has already been mentioned as a supplement that reduces blood pressure, but Ginger is better known as an anti-inflammatory. It contains gingerols, which inhibit a number of biochemical elements that promote inflammation, including COX and lipoxygenase. Therefore, taking a ginger supplement is a helpful addition to your regimen.
Tip Number 10: The Awesome Foursome
At the end of the list, at number 10, is a combination of four supplements that some doctors call the awesome foursome. These are Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose – which together can do all that the others do and more. The health of the heart is not only maintained but improved – with the taking of amino acids – as the heart is essentially a muscle – as well as supplements to improve blood flow through the health of the vessels. Some nutritionists also point to the importance of nitric oxide to help blood vessels and the flow of blood. Ultimately anything that can make it so the heart can work a little easier is going to prolong your heart’s health.
So, in short…
So, what does this list of the ten powerhouses of heart supplements tell us? There are some supplements that work very specifically on ailments that can impact the heart, such as cholesterol and high blood pressure. The more powerful impact could be argued to be given by anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants. Inflammation and free radicals are seen as the major causes of Western heart troubles. This would suggest that using supplements that fight inflammation and free radicals will have the most impact.
This means the king of the supplements ought to be Curcumin. This is a superfood that helps in both important influences on poor heart health. The big but comes in the difficulty for the body to absorb the supplement without the help of fat or without the help of black pepper. Fish oils should help with Curcumin absorption and Omega-3 is also mentioned as a helpful supplement for the heart. This suggests that a combination of the two supplements would be a magic formula.
However, let’s not underestimate the role of Red Yeast Rice, which mimics the role of statins. As the known preventative treatment for heart disease by doctors today is the statin; therefore, a natural supplement that has so many shared compounds to the drug of choice has to be a serious contender for the title of super supplement. It not only decreases cholesterol but also provides HDL, which fights the effects of heart disease. This means it should be considered as part of a supplement regimen.
Ultimately, you need to live a healthy life with a good diet and a good exercise program. Taking supplements to fight the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle might be counter-productive. So, here is one last radical suggestion. Why not take whey protein supplement – a protein that helps the muscle of the heart but will also make your exercise program more effective. Just a final thought.