Heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. and it’s important to have a heart protection strategy, especially as you get older. It should include exercise and a healthy diet, plus supplements for heart health as needed. All of the supplements we recommend here are proven helpful for heart health. Most can be safely taken in combination. However, red yeast rice and high-dose niacin are best used with medical supervision.
1. Fish Oil
Fish provides both primary and secondary protection—that is, it can help prevent a first heart attack, or a second one. Fish oil provides omega-3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation that can cause harmful clotting, reduce high triglycerides that can lead to fatty liver, reduce the risk of clogged arteries after angioplasty or bypass surgery, lower your risk for an irregular heartbeat, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for stroke.
Recent study findings also indicate that fish oil may protect against aging in heart cells by preserving the length of structures called telomeres, which determine cellular lifespan. Researchers found that the more omega-3s coronary heart disease patients consumed, the slower their cells aged.
Adding this natural, energy-boosting biochemical to other treatments for congestive heart failure improves quality of life, such as breathlessness, swollen legs, enlarged liver and insomnia. Taking CoQ10 along with blood-pressure lowering drugs improves their effectiveness and may allow you to reduce dosages. Taking CoQ10 after a heart attack significantly lowers your risk of another heart attack. CoQ10 helps to reduce muscle-related pain and weakness that are side effects of statin drugs.
3. Bergamot Orange Extract
Bergamot offers a variety of cardiovascular health benefits, stemming from the five active ingredients it possesses — neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, melitidine, and bruteridine — and the fact that it blocks a key enzyme in cholesterol production. More specifically, bergamot works to improve cardiovascular health by reducing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, while increasing HDL cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides.
According to a review published in the International Journal of Cardiology , even those looking for the basic cardioprotective perks of natural foods and ingredients can benefit greatly from curcumin’s anti-thrombotic, anti-proliferative, and powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Chronic, body-wide inflammation, the kind that slowly but surely results in unseen damage to the heart and blood vessels, is one of the known risk factors for worrisome heart complications. But when it comes to supporting heart health, studies have shown that curcumin’s powers extend far beyond its anti-inflammatory properties. Some have even said curcumin’s positive impact on heart health is as powerful as exercise.
5. Olive Leaf Extract
Recent research is showing that the olive leaf has truly remarkable effects on health, thanks to a compound called oleuropein that’s found in both olive oil and — in particularly high concentration — in olive leaves.
Scientists have long known about oleuropein’s ability to fight free radicals and support healthy blood vessels, but only recently has research revealed how effective a highly purified olive leaf extract rich in this amazing plant compound can be at promoting balanced blood pressure, normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels and optimal overall cardiovascular health.
In one study , researchers looked at 20 sets of identical twins (to minimize any differences in response based on genetics), with each twin assigned to a different group. Two experiments were conducted.
In the first 8-week test, one group was given a daily dose of 500 mg of a purified olive leaf extract, while the other group only received advice on lowering blood pressure with lifestyle changes.
Reductions in both systolic (the first number) and diastolic (the second number) blood pressure were observed in the group receiving olive leaf, while the control group actually saw slight increases . What’s more, the olive leaf group began to see improvements in as little as 7 days!
6. Vitamin D
Low levels have been linked to significantly increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease including heart attacks, stroke and heart failure. People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have the risk factors that cause heart disease: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Vitamin D also affects how well your body absorbs two minerals important for a healthy heart: calcium and magnesium.
Research has shown that resveratrol, the compound known to be the secret behind red wine’s heart health benefits, affects age-related gene expression changes in heart tissue. Like calorie restriction, resveratrol switches the body’s biochemical pathways towards tissue maintenance, which confers an advantage when the body is under the effects of stress. (Resveratrol is produced in plants when they are under stress.) This unique effect has been found to protect cardiovascular health and extend life by cutting down on the degenerative diseases of aging.