7 MEN’S HEALTH Fish Oil protects blood vessels thanks to two omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Numerous studies show that these two omega-3s help reduce blood pressure as well as triglyceride levels. They also modulate many of the mechanisms of atherosclerosis, including inflammation, blood clotting, and platelet aggregation (stickiness). To truly reap all of the artery-healthy advantages fish oil has to offer, it’s smart to add an EPA/DHA fish oil supplement to your supplement routine every day. L-arginine is an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide levels. This causes blood vessels to relax, permitting improved blood flow throughout the body. Some researchers also suggest that the uptick in arginine-induced nitric oxide may increase exercise capacity in people with heart disease while also acting as a pro-erectile agent. Nattokinase is a powerful enzyme that can enhance circulation by thinning the blood and preventing blood clots. In addition to thinning the blood, this soy-based enzyme reinforces the actions of plasmin, your body’s own enzyme that breaks down fibrin (the body’s clotting agent), thereby preventing abnormal thickening of the blood. Recent studies also indicate that nattokinase helps lower both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure by 10.9 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively. Niacin is an old nutrient that has discovered new life after a number of studies linked it to improved vascular health. In one analysis of seven trials involving more than 5,000 patients, researchers at Chicago Medical School confirmed that niacin can raise HDL levels by up to 35 percent in people with coronary artery disease. Other studies suggest that niacin prevents cells from clumping together and sticking to artery walls. This may effectively reduce arterial plaque. Other recent studies suggest that niacin dilates blood vessels and enhances microcirculation. This is indicated by the famous flush that can occur after taking a niacin supplement. L-theanine is best known for its ability to calm the mind. But this amino acid, which is found in green tea, can also help maintain blood pressure health. Japanese researchers have shown that l-theanine reduces blood pressure in a dose-dependent manner.While these results are preliminary, they are very promising. But even if you like green tea, you would have to drink copious amounts to get these potential benefits. Opt for a supplement instead. Omega-3s can also bring immediate benefits to your arteries. According to a 2010 trial at the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign, when 20 volunteers were fed a high-fat meal designed to dampen endothelial function and boost arterial stiffness, those who took 1,000 mg of fish oil after eating, appeared to be protected against the dietary- induced damage. Of course, this doesn’t give you an excuse to dive into a fast food feast. It’s simply an example of the protective properties fish oil has on your circulatory system.