A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. There is no “magic supplement,” that can protect you from certain lifestyle choices that negatively affect your cardiovascular health. With that said, when combined with a heart healthy diet and regular exercise, there are some supplements that can support and even improve cardiovascular health.
Before we get into the best supplements for your cardiovascular health, let’s take a closer look at some basics regarding eating well for a healthy heart. Now, you may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, fats and carbohydrates, and are generally lower in calories. They may help you to manage your weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. Overall, a heart healthy diet emphasizes eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, nuts and legumes. Try to limit saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available. One diet that fits this pattern is called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)1. Most healthy eating patterns can be adapted based on calorie requirements and your personal food preferences.
Top Supplements for Heart Health
In addition to eating well, you may need to consider adding a few heart healthy supplements to your routine to help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Aged Garlic Extract (AGE)
Aged Garlic Extract is one of the most heavily researched herbal medicines today and is among the most commonly used supplements in people with heart disease. In studies, AGE is the type of garlic supplement that has been most consistently shown to have favorable effects on heart health. Kyolic AGE is produced through a proprietary aging process that eliminates garlic odor and harsh side effects. A heart-healthy dose is 1,200 mg daily. AGE can support healthy blood pressure levels, keep bad cholesterol in check, protect LDL (bad cholesterol) from oxidation, increase adiponectin (a hormone that helps protect against inflammation), thins your blood, and staves off plaque in your artieries2.
CoQ10 is a natural compound made by your body that has antioxidant properties. It is considered an “energy generator,” that enhances your heart’s pumping ability. Your body naturally makes some CoQ10, but it only makes a limited amount. CoQ10 is especially important to take if you are on a statin drug, because studies show that when you take a statin drug to lower cholesterol, you deplete CoQ103.
Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice is a fermented rice supplement produced by growing red yeast on white rice. Red yeast contains a small amount of a naturally occurring statin that lowers cholesterol. So it works like a statin drug by blocking an enzyme that is involved in making cholesterol4. If you’ve had side effects from taking a statin drug though, such as muscle aches and weakness, you should be cautious with red yeast rice, especially high doses, as you may experience the same side effects from the supplement. It is always best to talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement regimen.
Phytosterols are compounds naturally found in the cell membranes of foods from certain plants, and they have a chemical structure that’s similar to cholesterol. Because of that, they can compete with cholesterol for absorption in your gut, which may help lower LDL in your bloodstream5. You consume small amounts of phytosterols when you eat vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Foods containing at least 0.65 grams per serving of plant sterols, eaten twice a day as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. Adding a supplement with Phytosterols can ensure that you are doing all you can to keep your cholesterol levels in check.
Take charge of your heart health by eating well, keep exercising and working some of these cardiovascular supplements into your daily routine.