Best Supplements for Your Heart, According to a Dietitian
Navigating which supplements to add to your daily routine may feel overwhelming and daunting given the endless options available. Supplements can be a great compliment to a well-balanced diet and help fill gaps in nutrient intake, and, in some cases, may be able to provide disease-prevention benefits, too.
When it comes to heart health, there are supplements that may reduce disease risk factors and lessen your chances of developing a cardiovascular condition in the future. While diet, exercise, and stress management play major roles in heart health, here are five supplements that may benefit your cardiovascular health as well. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don't miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
More frequently referred to as CoQ10, this nutrient is consumed in small amounts via meat and seafood and is naturally produced in the body. Enzymes act as a catalyst to carry out the numerous biochemical reactions that are constantly occurring in the body. Coenzymes are compounds, often derived from vitamins, that are necessary to the functioning of these enzymes. While there are many, many coenzymes, CoQ10 is one that is thought to also have antioxidant functions and play a role in heart health. While the mechanisms of these interactions aren't concretely understood, and more research is needed to solidify its role, we do currently know enough to recommend it as a supplement that is likely beneficial for cardiovascular wellness.
One study notes that three out of four patients with heart disease have low levels of CoQ10, showing a possible link that a deficiency of this nutrient may increase the risk of cardiovascular illness. Another study notes those who received CoQ10 shortly after having a heart attack had a lower rate of subsequent heart attack over the following year. Additional research suggests supplementation of CoQ10 can reduce blood pressure, a form of cardiovascular disease that also serves as a risk factor for many other forms of heart disease.
This is likely not the first time you have heard of this nutrient. In fact, you may already be supplementing this healthy fat into your diet for other reasons, like to reduce joint pain, improve anxiety, or reduce inflammation. While research does support the use of Omega-3s for these conditions, and more, this form of fat is also thought to play a role in heart health. Cholesterol, triglycerides, and arterial plaque build-up are three risk factors identified for developing heart disease. Luckily, current research show Omega-3 can play a positive role in improving these metrics.
High-density lipoprotein, otherwise referred to as HDL cholesterol, is the "good" form of cholesterol that helps to get rid of LDL, the "bad" form of cholesterol. One study found that supplementation of Omega-3 resulted in higher levels of HDL cholesterol and lower levels of triglycerides, another form of blood lipid that serves as a risk factor for heart disease. Additionally, research also suggests supplementation of Omega-3 can improve the integrity of vessel walls which can improve vessel dilation, blood flow and reduce the impact of plaque buildup. In addition to supplementing Omega-3, you can also find this nutrient in several food items, like salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts.
Another nutrient you are likely familiar with, fiber plays several important functions in the body. Many people are familiar with the digestive benefits associated with fiber intake but are not as familiar with the heart health benefits. Whether consumed through fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, or in a supplement, insoluble fiber is known to add bulk to stool, allowing for quicker transit and healthier bathroom habits. While this is the function of insoluble fiber, soluble fiber plays a completely different role and is the form of fiber thought to benefit heart health.
Soluble fiber becomes very viscous when combined with liquid, and this texture is one of the unique properties that allows it to improve heart health metrics. Plenty of research supports the idea that this can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. One study notes the use of psyllium husk—a form of fiber you can easily add to smoothies, oatmeal, and any liquid—can reduce total cholesterol levels by decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol synthesized. While this supplemental form of fiber may benefit your heart health, it is important to introduce supplemental fiber slowly into your diet and drink plenty of water to allow your body to acclimate.
This mineral is commonly found in many food sources, like nuts, seed, legumes, and some fruits and veggies, yet research suggest up to 50% of adult American's are deficient in Magnesium. While magnesium plays a role in supporting bone health and reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fracture, there is research to support its function in heart health as well. In fact, low levels of blood magnesium have been found to be inversely associated with blood pressure. In relation to this finding, additional research has noted that supplementation of magnesium has been found to reduce blood pressure levels, in turn, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Because magnesium is widespread in food sources, eating a well-balanced diet can help minimize a magnesium deficiency. However, for those with food sensitives, allergies or strong aversions who may not be getting a broad spectrum of nutrients from their food, taking a magnesium supplement is a sure way to avoid a deficiency that could impact health in the future.
This B vitamin is naturally found in green, leafy vegetables, like lettuce, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, and is thought to lower to risk of heart attack and stroke in individuals with high blood pressure. One of the specific mechanisms for how folate can improve cardiovascular health is its role in the breakdown of homocysteine, an amino acid that can build up within the body. High levels of blood homocysteine is thought to be a risk factor for heart disease and is often associated with low blood levels of vitamins B6, B12, and folate. In addition to the leafy greens that contain folate, many processed food items, like bread and cereal, are often fortified and enriched with folate, too. Eating a balanced diet and taking a general multivitamin is a sound plan to ensure adequate consumption of folate.