29 September is World Heart Day and obviously, everyone is talking about things you can do for heart health.
When we think heart health, we all think cholesterol first. Only, ask any cardiac patient and they’ll tell you – there’s a lot more to feeling better on cardiac health than just better cholesterol numbers.
In the world of dietary supplements, the fantastic benefits of things like Omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10 and Nattokinase are known to people who follow cardiac health research.
Here are 3 more fantastic heart-support supplements that don’t get enough attention. They are backed by research studies and have been used safely for decades to help with heart health.
It doesn’t get simpler than the good ol’ C. Is there anything it isn’t good for? We all know walking is good for the heart. Research has shown that walking has several benefits for our health, including the way it positively influences a particular protein in the endothelium, the inside walls of our arteries. This protein, called Endothelin-1, constricts our blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Vitamin C has been shown to have the same “relaxing” effect on the arteries as walking.
A paper presented at the American Physiological Society’s 14th International Conference on Endothelin highlighted this when they studied 35 sedentary, overweight adults. They divided them into two groups. One group began to walk regularly while the other began having of 500 mg of Vitamin C daily. Both groups experienced the same benefits of arterial “relaxation”. Two-time Nobel Prize winner Dr. Linus Pauling believed, as a result of his clinical research that Vitamin C, taken in high doses, had the ability to reverse arterial hardening or atherosclerosis.
It turns out the reason fresh vegetables and fruits are great for our heart is because they are fabulous sources of Vitamin C. The brightly colored vegetables and fruits – from
- Bell Peppers
- Brussel Sprouts
- Grapefruit and
Be aware, be safe: Vitamin C may cause some loose stools in some people. Those with poor stomach acid may notice acidity issues at higher doses.
The Maritime Pine Bark extract that been studied for four decades and is the subject of hundreds of studies can be a great support for your cardiac health. In a study of patients with stable coronary artery disease (heart attack survivors, folks with chest pain, etc.), supplementation with Pycnogenol showed a 32% improvement in endothelial function. In simple language that means that walls of their blood vessels began to function more like they are meant to – relaxing more and allowing for greater blood flow.
Another remarkable study showed that pycnogenol was able to slow down progression of cardiovascular disease. Plaque formations in the arteries of the leg and neck of 1363 adults were measured as part of the San Valentino cardiology epidemiological study. The plaques narrow blood vessels and reduce blood flow. The groups were then divided into various cohorts that received either different doses of pycnogenol or placebo or aspirin. The group that got 100 mg per day of pycnogenol had the most significant benefits when ultrasonic imaging was repeated over a 30-month period.
Since pycnogenol improves circulation, men who are suffering from cardiac disease can also expect benefits in the erectile dysfunction department
Be aware, be safe: One of the ways Pycnogenol works is by thinning your blood. If you are on blood thinners or use medication for blood pressure control, use with care and involve your medical practitioner. Best had with meals.
This is a rather unique dietary supplement. It is an extract from Cuban sugar cane and for that reason, almost all the research that talks about this supplement come from one institute in Cuba. Other labs that have tried to replicate the same effects have reported mixed results. However, if you go by the number of people swearing by it for its effects in lowering LDL and its effects on a condition called intermittent claudication, you simply can’t ignore it. We don’t believe that cholesterol-measurements are the way to go, so we are including it among the lesser know heart helpers for its effects on intermittent claudication.
In plain speak, this is a condition that many heart patients are familiar with – coldness and pain in arms and legs due to poor circulation. When they walk distances, they feel moderate to severe pain in their legs. They also feel a loss of energy and inability to walk, since poor circulation results in lowered oxygen supply to their legs. In two studies on policosanol involving patients with this problem, supplementation with 10mg, twice a day, for six months showed substantial improvement in distance covered before pain set in. Patients also reported lesser coldness of legs. The follow-up study, over two years, showed that these benefits held and many of the patients were even able to witness increases in wrist and ankle pressure, a relevant improvement in patients with the problem.
Be aware, be safe: One of the major ways Policosanol works is by reducing platelet aggregation – preventing your blood platelets from sticking to each other. This is what blood thinners like aspirin also do. Be sure to involve your medical practitioner if you take any blood thinners.