February is National Heart Month; an annual campaign from the British Heart Foundation that aims to raise awareness of heart disease here in the UK. It is crucial that we all take good care of this vital organ, especially as we age.
The most important lifestyle factors for a healthy heart are a balanced diet and a regular exercise regime. These provide the foundation for a healthy heart. In addition to these, nutritional supplements can offer many added benefits.
What can damage the heart?
Arteries carry blood around the body that contains oxygen and nutrients. Unfortunately, there are many things that can damage the arteries that supply the heart. These include high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, blood pressure, the ageing process, diabetes, and tobacco smoke.
Too much fat, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, can build up in the arteries and heart. Over time this begins to clog up the bloodstream and can lead to serious problems for the heart. When arteries become clogged they become narrower, which reduces the oxygen that reaches the heart. As a result heart cells begin to die.
Damage to the arteries can cause debris in the bloodstream to stick to the artery walls and form a plaque. This plaque causes the arteries to become less elastic and as result they are more prone to damage. As plaque grows it can also become dislodged, which further narrows the arteries and increases the risk of a blood clot.
Nutritional supplements can help to provide extra support for the health of the heart by protecting the body from damage and helping to treat inflammation. Certain supplements offer promising evidence to show that they can help to protect against heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure. It is believed they may also have a protective effect against angina.
Supplements that have proved to be most effective include:
- Flaxseed oil benefits
Flaxseed oil is often seen as a fish-free alternative to fish oils for beneficial levels of omega 3. The oil contains omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, in particular ALA. It is high in fibre and has been shown to help support the maintenance of healthy heart function.
Omega 3 fatty acids may also help to relieve inflammation. Inflammatory reactions in the body can lead to poor circulation and the increase the production of plaques that cause the arteries to harden. More.
- Garlic health benefits
Garlic has many different benefits, which include the ability to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The main active ingredient in garlic is allicin. Experts believe that allicin reacts with red blood cells in the body to produce hydrogen sulphide. This helps to relax blood vessels, improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. More.
- Co Enzyme Q10 benefits
Co Enzyme Q10 is a fat-soluble vitamin-like substance found in the mitochondria. It is concentrated in the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas. It plays an important role in the production of ATP that provides the energy for heart function. As a result it is often referred to as the body’s “spark-plug”. The body’s natural production of Co Enzyme Q10 declines with age, and this is when supplementation may become beneficial.
Experts believe that Co Enzyme Q10 may help to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure. There is also evidence to suggest that it may help to reduce the risks associated with congestive heart failure. Preliminary studies also suggest that people with hypertension often have low Co Enzyme Q10 levels. More.
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