Green tea, fish oil, hawthorn berries and garlic are just a few among a myriad of supplements said to be able to improve heart health. But do they really work?
According to Web MD, research shows that some supplements, along with lifestyle changes and medical treatment if needed, may help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure and reduce other risk factors causing heart disease.
“We offer many types of supplements including multi-vitamins that are geared for heart health,” says Leslie Gillham, promotions director for Baum’s Natural Foods with locations in Munster, Merrillville and St. John. “We also have cardio-vascular formulas as well.”
One of those, Complete Cardio contain ingredients which studies indicate may improve heart and vascular function, protects against oxidative stress and reduces the risk of heart disease.
For high blood pressure, Baum’s has a supplement featuring such ingredients containing magnesium, hawthorn berries, apple pectin and celery seed extract. Anti-cholesterol supplements have plant sterols (substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds which have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties), guggulipid—a guggul extract from the resin of the mukul myrrh tree which grows in India, garlic, oat bran and Coq 10.
Guggulipid, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, decreases the risk of additional heart problems in people who have had a recent heart attack (myocardial infarction or MI) if started within 72 hours of the MI and then taken for a year. It also may decrease high blood pressure and help significantly lower the risk of heart-related events.
Gillham says that Baum’s staff is educated to assist people in picking out the right heart supplements depending upon their issues and health histories, creating an individualized regime.
“We have a whole section filled with heart supplements,” she says.
“The two big ones for heart health are magnesium and Omega-3,” says Karen Jensen, a certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais and Anat Baniel Methods, techniques for improving function and pain-free movement for infants, children and adults who has an office in Miller Beach.
Supplements containing fish oil high in Omega-3 fatty acids can drastically lower levels of levels of triglycerides, the unhealthy fat responsible for causing clots in the arteries. Fish oil supplements may also improve blood pressure. Magnesium is a key mineral in human metabolism and is found in nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables particularly green leafy ones such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale and turnip, mustard and beet greens.
Other heart healthy supplements include garlic,which lowers blood pressure and may slow the build-up of plaque in the arteries, while lowering the risk of clots. Green tea is also thought to lower bad cholesterol and raise the levels of good cholesterol.
Though many nutrients—such as garlic, magnesium and fish oil—are available in foods (and food is the best source of minerals and vitamins), often the amount needed for good nutrition is not large enough to provide the appropriate levels. That is when supplements can boost those necessary nutrients.
Jensen says that many people with high blood pressure and cholesterol choose not to go natural. Getting everything needed from a standard diet often means changes in life choices that are not always feasible, at least short-term. Some clients are looking at major changes in eating habits, exercise, diet and stress levels so their bodies can heal. She works with people to calm their nervous systems which in turn is an aid to lowering high blood pressure which is caused by stress. Calmness and serenity are good for a healthy hearts too.