Omega-3 oils, plant sterols and even antioxidants have heart-healthy benefits. These nutrients can lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood pressure. Decreasing the amount of trans fats and salt is can also help in lowering your heart attack risk, as does including more exercise into your routine.
If you’re looking to reduce your risk of a heart attack, it is important to do so in a holistic manner. Remember that if you already suffer from heart problems require on-going treatment and monitoring, you should comply with your doctor’s prescribed treatments and should not self-treat.
Supplements and nutrients
- Reduce the levels of oxidised cholesterol – a risk factor for heart and blood vessel problems – with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to inhibit the oxidation of LDL–cholesterol
- Supplement your CoQ10 intake with omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA from fish oil. This decreases fat (triglycerides) in the blood in healthy people. Omega-3s also help to maintain the flexibility of the blood vessels, help maintain healthy heart rates and help maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Plant sterols (phytosterols) may help to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels and improve the LDL:HDL ratio within the healthy range. They work by lowering cholesterol absorption and reabsorption. Take a daily dose of 2 to 3 grams of plant sterols per day, as recommended by the National Heart Foundation of Australia. Choose a formula that also supplies a healthy dose of betacarotene, which may become depleted when taking plant sterols.
- Antioxidants are often taken with folic acid and the vitamins B6 and B12. Deficiency in B vitamins is a common cause of elevated plasma homocysteine, a risk factor for heart attacks.
- Olive leaf extract is traditionally used to maintain healthy blood pressure and a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Maintaining adequate magnesium levels helps regulate the contraction of the heart muscle and maintain healthy cardiovascular function. Magnesium may also be beneficial in times of stress. It is often taken in a powdered form with the amino acid taurine, which also plays a role in maintaining cardiovascular health.
Diet and Lifestyle Suggestions
A healthy diet and lifestyle are essential to a healthy heart. Work with your healthcare professional to develop a plan to achieve and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, body weight, and blood sugar balance, as all of these contribute to your heart health.
If you are already undergoing medical treatment for a heart-related condition, do adhere to your doctor’s instructions. Talk to your doctor before taking any natural health supplements or changing your diet or lifestyle; such changes may mean that your medicine or its dosage needs to be monitored.
Embark on a heart-healthy journey with these lifestyle changes.
- Reduce high-cholesterol and saturated and trans fat foods in your diet by avoiding animal fats (meat and full-fat dairy products) as well as fatty foods (deep fried foods, confectionary, pies and fast food).
- Increase the amount of steamed, grilled or pan fried fish in your diet and eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains.
- Enrich your diet with both soluble and insoluble fibre in the form of vegetables, whole grains, legumes, oats and psyllium.
- Include moderate amounts monounsaturated fats from nuts (especially walnuts), seeds and olive oil.
- Decrease the amount of sodium in your diet. Avoid processed meats (e.g. bacon, ham and salami), packaged foods, and junk foods. Buy low salt alternatives of any tinned foods, sauces or other processed foods.
- Opt for low-fat dairy products as calcium is beneficial for your blood pressure. Aim for three serves a day.
- Include antioxidant-rich foods such as garlic, green tea and tomatoes.
- If you drink, do so in moderation, and favour antioxidant-rich red wine.
- Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking significantly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other health problems, and can exacerbate the negative effects of high cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Regular aerobic exercise can help to maintain a healthy heart. As little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise (for example, brisk walking) per day may help to improve your cardiovascular health, but seek the advice of your healthcare professional before commencing a new exercise programme.
- Practice techniques to lower your stress levels and improve your ability to cope under pressure. Yoga, meditation, tai chi and qi gong may all be particularly beneficial.
- Avoid consuming large quantities of liquorice confectionary or the herb liquorice (Glycyrrhizaglabra), as it may increase blood pressure in some people.
The following information refers to supportive therapy only and should not replace medical advice. Do not take any natural health supplements without discussing them with your doctor first, as some supplements may interact with your prescribed medicines or may not be suitable for your personal circumstances. Heart problems are serious and require professional treatment and monitoring. Do not make any changes to your medication use, supplements, diet or lifestyle without prior consultation with your healthcare professional.
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This article is published courtesy of Blackmores Singapore Pte Ltd.
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