Supplements can help your bones, your muscles, and many other parts of your body. What about your heart? Research shows that some of them may help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and other things that put you at risk for heart disease.
Here are six nutrients that can be a good addition to your heart-healthy lifestyle.
Found naturally in fruits, grains, vegetables, and legumes, fiber cuts down the amount of cholesterol your body soaks up from food. Try to get at least 25 to 30 grams of it every day. Men younger than age 51 should aim for 38 grams a day. It’s best to get your daily dose from your diet, but supplements are another option. There’s good evidence that psyllium husk – common in fiber supplements – can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. It can also raise the “good” kind, HDL. Other fiber supplements include methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and calcium polycarbophil. If you take a fiber supplement, increase the amount you take slowly. This can help prevent gas and cramping. It’s also important to drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake.
Not only does it make just about anything taste delicious, it could also slightly lower blood pressure. It may slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries, lowering your risk of blood clots. Research shows that both garlic in food and in supplements may help.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Your body naturally makes small amounts of this enzyme, also known as ubiquinone and ubiquinol. CoQ10 may help lower blood pressure, either on its own or along with medications. Other studies have found that adding it to heart failure drugs may help people feel better day to day.
CoQ10 pills are also popular as a treatment for the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. Why? These meds can sometimes lower the amount of CoQ10 the body makes on its own.
Full of omega-3 fatty acids, it can slash levels of triglycerides – an unhealthy fat in your blood – by up to 30%. It may also improve blood pressure. But it’s not clear if non-prescription fish oil supplements lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Your best bet may be to eat fish with omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week.
Magnesium not only helps us cope with stress; it also makes sure our hearts keep a healthy beat. By helping transport other electrolytes like calcium and potassium into cells, magnesium helps our nerves signal our heart muscles to contract normally. Magnesium is also known to help lower blood pressure. Low levels of Magnesium is associated with hypertension and is linked to heart diseases, particularly heart attacks. Magnesium-rich foods include dark chocolate, spinach, nuts and bananas.
Safe Supplement Use
Don’t take a supplement just because it’s labeled “heart healthy.” Not all of them are guaranteed to help you, and it can be dangerous to get too much of some of them.
Pay attention to what the supplement does, and make sure you really need it. Ask your doctor which product is most likely to help. If you have a heart condition or for a high risk for a heart attack, you must follow your doctor’s advice. It’s way too risky to try to treat a serious health condition on your own with over-the-counter supplements.