Food for the Heart: Knowing Some Key Heart Nutrients in Supplements

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With people taking more interest in their health, drugstores and pharmacies are flooded with brands over brands of food supplements, vitamins and minerals with varying blends of nutrients. When choosing your brand of nutritional supplement, it is good to know at the outset which part of your health or body you want to focus on. If you want to show your heart some love, here are some HEART NUTRIENTS to look for in choosing your supplement:

 

Vitamin E

With promises to make your skin look healthier, Tocopherol, fondly known as Vitamin E, is often touted for its dermatologic properties. But there is more to this potent antioxidant than what meets the eye. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E has been shown to reduce blood viscosity and prevent fatty acid oxidation. This in turn helps prevent cholesterol plaque formation in the blood vessels that can potentially block arteries in the heart, which may later lead to a heart attack. Studies show that consuming Vitamin E-rich food is associated with lower risk for coronary heart disease in middle-aged to older men and women.

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Don’t let the “fat” in “fatty acid” mislead you. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are good for your heart health. Also known as fish oil or EPA and DHA, these are your healthy fatty acids found in fish. If you look at some of the experts’ recommendations for cardiovascular health, you would probably see omega-3 fatty acids as part of the treatment in lowering bad cholesterol. A daily dose of this nutrient can help prevent cholesterol build-up thereby decreasing the risk of heart attacks especially for the elderly population.

 

Co-Q10 or Coenzyme-Q10

Co-Q10, both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient, has been extensively studied for its use on coronary heart disease. Some researchers reported that daily supplementation with Co-Q10 significantly helped in lowering elevated blood pressure. Recent findings have shown that Co-Q10 helps improve the performance or functional capacity of the heart, especially in patients with heart failure.

 

Lecithin

Although naturally found in the body, some supplements offer this important nutrient because of its cholesterol-busting properties. Also known as phosphatidylcholine, lecithin plays an important role in metabolizing cholesterol, thus helping against cholesterol build-up and plaque formation that could lead to coronary artery disease.

 

Folate

Vitamin B9 or Folate is not only for expectant mothers, but also for those who want to reduce their risk for heart disease. Folate helps lower homocysteine, a by-product of metabolism and an important risk factor in artery wall thickening. Adequate folate intake may help prevent excess accumulation of homocysteine in the blood, and hence, lower your risk for stroke and coronary heart disease. If you want the benefits of folate, don’t forget to spot “Folic Acid” in your supplement’s list of ingredients.

 

Magnesium

Considered as a trace mineral, magnesium is shown to be important in keeping a healthy heart rhythm. Studies have found that low levels of magnesium are associated with the development of heart disease. Low magnesium levels have been linked to several risk factors that could lead to heart disease such as high blood pressure, arterial plaque build-up, increase in cholesterol and hardening of the arteries. Intake of magnesium may help decrease the development of these risk factors

 

Vitamin C

It is no secret that Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and great for your immune system. But do you know that Vitamin C is also good for your heart? Researchers found out that intake of Vitamin C is linked to a reduced risk for heart disease by its ability to help lower heart disease risk factors, including high blood levels of LDL, the bad cholesterol, and triglycerides.

 

Lycopene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin

You may have heard of this nutrient to be present in your tomato products. Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that provides the red color in your fresh tomatoes. Lycopene provides protection for the heart by lowering blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure which are both risk factors for coronary heart disease. Similarly, lycopene also lowers C-Reactive Protein, a substance associated with heart tissue inflammation or damage.

 

Some emerging studies suggest the potential roles of lutein and zeaxanthin in supporting cardiovascular health. Lutein has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects on the heart by decreasing inflammation. It was said to resolve chronic inflammation in coronary arteries of patients. Results of studies also suggested that lutein may help prevent clogging of the neck arteries. Zeaxanthin reduces blood vessel stiffness and protects the blood vessels against atherosclerosis.

 

It must be remembered though that these nutrients may only help lower the risk of heart disease and must be combined with other approaches such as proper diet and exercise. If you have existing heart problems or symptoms, it would be best to consult your doctor on the proper supplements that you should take. Listen to your doctor’s advice and take the right nutrients for your heart.

 

References:

 

Link, Rachael. 15 Incredibly Heart-healthy Foods. Healthline.com March 5, 2018

 

Datta, Rupali. 8 Most Essential Nutrients of a Healthy Heart. October 16, 2019 <https://food.ndtv.com/health/8-most-essential-nutrients-for-a-healthy-heart-1756676>

 

Getqardio.com. Ten Nutrients for your heart health you’ve probably never heard of. https://www.getqardio.com/healthy-heart-blog/ten-nutrients-heart-health-youve-probably-never-heard/

 

Ayers J, Cook J, Koenig RA, Sisson EM, Dixon DL. Recent Developments in the Role of Coenzyme Q10 for Coronary Heart Disease: a Systematic Review. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2018 May 16;20(6):29. doi: 10.1007/s11883-018-0730-1. PMID: 29766349.

 

Gebhard C, Rhainds D, He G, Rodés-Cabau J, Lavi S, Spence JD, Title L, Kouz S, L'Allier PL, Grégoire J, Ibrahim R, Cossette M, Guertin MC, Beanlands R, Rhéaume E, Tardif JC. Elevated level of lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) is associated with reduced coronary atheroma burden. Atherosclerosis. 2018 Sep;276:131-139. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2018.07.025. Epub 2018 Jul 19. PMID: 30059844.

 

Mares J. Lutein and Zeaxanthin Isomers in Eye Health and Disease. Annu Rev Nutr. 2016 Jul 17;36:571-602. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-071715-051110. PMID: 27431371; PMCID: PMC5611842.

 

Chung RWS, Leanderson P, Lundberg AK, Jonasson L. Lutein exerts anti-inflammatory effects in patients with coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis. 2017 Jul;262:87-93. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2017.05.008. Epub 2017 May 6. PMID: 28527371.

 

Ribaya-Mercado JD, Blumberg JB. Lutein and zeaxanthin and their potential roles in disease prevention. J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6 Suppl):567S-587S. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2004.10719427. PMID: 15640510.

 

American Heart Association. A new vision of lutein: Heart disease prevention. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2001-06/AHA-Anvo-1706101.php

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