By Tracy Shields - Here are the top five best vitamin and mineral supplements to help prevent heart disease.
When I talk about heart disease, I like to mention that it’s preventable. Your environment, much more than your genes, is a key factor in this top killer—and by environment, I mean what you eat, what you don’t eat, if you exercise, smoke, drink, the stress you incur, and so on. In fact, most of the risk factors associated with heart disease can be changed:
- Quit smoking
- Limit alcohol intake
- Manage stress
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise routinely
- Remove trans fats from your diet, and drastically reduce animal proteins, salt, sugar and saturated fats
- Eat more plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains
Without making those changes, your risk for heart disease is high. But, while you’re working hard at all of these new improvements, here are some of our best picks for heart- healthy supplementation that can boost your heart health:
1. EPA and DHA: The Omega-3 Fatty Acids
No other vitamin or mineral has ever been determined to do more for your heart than omega-3s. The molecules EPA and DHA have been vastly studied; as published by Medscape: “To date, the strongest evidence showing a cardiovascular benefit from omega-3 fatty acid intake derives from three large controlled trials in which a total of 32,000 participants were randomized to a control group or to receive omega-3 fatty acid supplements containing DHA and EPA. In these trials, the supplemented group had a 19% to 45% reduction in cardiovascular events versus the control group.”1 Pure and potent omega-3s work. And because many of us do not add enough fish to our diets, it is essential that we supplement.
Antioxidants are, according to Medterms, “any substance (such as vitamin E, vitamin C or beta carotene) that reduces oxidative damage (damage due to oxygen) such as that caused by free radicals.” Sound too technical? How’s this: Eat more blueberries, pomegranate, kale, red cabbage, peppers, parsley, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, spinach, lemon, walnuts, ginger and red beets. And if you can’t get all of those in your daily diet, look into these antioxidants that come in supplement form:
- Coenzyme Q10 is a great antioxidant that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the oxidation of LDL
- Selenium, a trace mineral, provides antioxidant action by creating an enzyme that converts peroxide into water.2
- Açai berry is Brazilian fruit from the Açai palm. Its rise in popularity may be due to studies that reveal that the Açai berry is the most potent and effective antioxidant for neutralizing specific types of free radicals having “exceptional activity against superoxide” and the “highest of any food reported to date” for having the most antioxidants.3
- Pomegranate is a potent antioxidant and maybe moreso than apple juice, black cherry juice, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, Concord grape juice, orange juice, and red wine. Pomegranate juice was tested against other fruit juices and found to be more potent, about “20% greater than any of the other beverages tested.” 4
- Green tea is a great antioxidant and detoxifier. The detoxification properties of green tea include inhibiting formation of free radicals, such as radical oxygen species from metals such as iron. Due to the hydroxyl structure of green tea, it is able to bind and neutralize free radicals effectively.5
3. Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is “a substance that’s extracted from rice that’s been fermented with a type of yeast called Monascus purpureus. It’s been used in China and other Asian countries for centuries as a traditional medicine.” Research discovered that not only does red yeast rice serve general medicinal purposes, it also naturally lowers cholesterol. Red yeast rice only comes in supplement form, though, and buying a brand that works can be tricky. Be sure to do your research. A really potent red yeast rice has the power to lower cholesterol within about 30 days.
Magnesium is good for heart pumping functions and heart energy. It is effective for rhythm, blood pressure and heart pumping and one of the key cardiac nutrients in that it is extremely important to prevent irregular heart rate, arrhythmia and rapid heart rate. Magnesium is also extremely helpful in lowering high blood pressure. Where does magnesium come from and how can you add it to your diet? Spinach, halibut, pumpkin seeds and black beans are all rich sources of magnesium. But how often do any of us snack on pumpkin seeds? Supplementing with magnesium is probably more doable.
5. A Multivitamin with Plenty of Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid
According to the British Medical Journal, “a daily dose of at least 0.5 mg of folic acid, along with a similar amount of vitamin B-12, would produce a proportional reduction in blood homocysteine,”7 which means a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. And according to the American Heart Association, the dietary components with the greatest effects [for lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease] are folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12.8 Besides, a good multivitamin is as important to overall health as water is to a fish. We need these nutrients not only to survive, but to thrive.
2 Prevention’s Guide to Reversing the Aging Process
3 Scientific Abstract, J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Nov 1;54(22):8604-10
4 J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 27;56(4):1415-22. Epub 2008 Jan 26.
5 Green Tea Summary Report: Includes Alternative Medicine Review.