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Heart Health Supplements: Can They Prevent Cardiovascular Diseases?

Many people use dietary supplements to increase the intake of certain vitamins, minerals, herbs, or amino acids to help boost their heart-healthy diets and exercise routines. Research has shown some supplements may help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce stress which can all help reduce the risk of heart disease. None of these supplements are meant to treat, prevent, or cure heart diseases, but when added to diet and exercise they may help improve heart health.

Key takeaways:

Can heart health supplements actually prevent diseases?

Numerous factors, such as high blood pressure and bad cholesterol, can lead to heart disease by inducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.

Thus, studies have been done to find supplements that, by promoting antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, may help prevent the development of additional pathological mechanisms that result in cardiovascular disease. Some supplements have the potential to encourage a heart-healthy lifestyle by offering these advantages. For example, polyphenol supplements may have a relaxing effect and reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure.

Supplements are not FDA-approved and are not intended to prevent, cure, or treat any diseases, despite all the encouraging research. So, in order to decide if a supplement is right for you, it is crucial to go over the advantages and disadvantages with your physician.

Supplements that might support a healthy heart

Several studies have found connections between different dietary supplements and a lower risk of heart-related issues. However, it can be challenging to distinguish supplements made to support a healthy heart due to the deluge of advertising and information available. We looked at recent studies and created a list of supplements that have been shown to support healthy cardiovascular function.

Omega-3 fatty acids

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Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids found in various seafoods, algae, and seeds. The two most commonly researched omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and are often provided together in supplements.

The exact role of omega-3 fatty acids has not been completely defined, but many researchers believe EPA and DHA have roles in reducing blood triglyceride levels, reducing inflammation, improving blood pressure, and improving the function of blood vessels. These functions have linked omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases.

Eating fish and other seafood is the best way to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, if you choose to take a supplement, talk to your doctor first.

Potassium

High blood pressure is the number one risk factor for cardiovascular complications such as strokes. Potassium-rich diets have been demonstrated in one meta-analysis to lower the risk of stroke by up to 21% and may also help lower blood pressure. Numerous additional studies investigating the general effects of potassium on the outcomes of cardiovascular disease have been spurred by this.

Overall, research indicates that potassium has positive effects. Because of this, the World Health Organization advises adults to eat 3.5 grams of potassium-rich foods daily to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease. Using potassium-containing salt substitutes in addition to meals is a good way to increase intake without suffering from the side effects of sodium.

Magnesium

An increased consumption of magnesium has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease death, stroke, and cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension. It is advised to add supplements to your diet, particularly if testing has shown that you are deficient in magnesium. This can be achieved by eating more foods high in magnesium, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, or by taking a supplement.

Note
Patients with kidney disease should use caution when taking supplements because this can result in excessive blood levels of magnesium, which can also have negative effects. Furthermore, common side effects like diarrhea may make it difficult to use the supplement form.

Fiber

Plant components that the digestive system is unable to process or absorb are known as dietary fiber. The two main types of fiber are soluble and insoluble. In the intestines, soluble fiber gels and lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol while controlling the absorption of dietary sugars.

High-fiber diets have the potential to both improve heart disease outcomes and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Good sources of soluble fiber include vegetables, beans, nuts, and oats. For individuals who have trouble consuming enough fiber in their diets, supplements are another option.

Supplements lacking evidence for heart health

Many people have the misconception that all supplements are good for their health and wellbeing, especially those that contain vitamins and minerals. However, if taken in excess, some compounds may be harmful to heart health. In order to avoid taking more of these substances than is advised, it is crucial to read the ingredient labels on supplements.

Vitamin C

Since the human body cannot produce ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, we must get it from our diet. Vitamin C supplementation can be beneficial and lower the risk of certain diseases. Nevertheless, a number of studies have demonstrated that adding vitamin C to the diet does not prevent cardiovascular disease.

Eating foods rich in vitamin C is important to prevent any diseases associated with a deficiency. However, adding additional vitamin C may not provide any heart-healthy benefits.

Selenium

Ferrous selenium is a trace mineral that is essential for both the normal operation of the cardiovascular system and its antioxidant qualities. It is crucial to include a selenium supplement in your diet if you have a deficiency.

On the other hand, adding selenium to a diet with adequate intake may not provide any additional benefits. Foods such as red meat, breads, cereals, eggs, and chicken are high in selenium and are good sources to maintain adequate levels within the body.

Vitamin E

Consuming too much of the fat-soluble vitamin E can cause it to build up in the body. Excessive doses of vitamin E can be hazardous in addition to the conflicting data regarding its potential to help heart disease.

Excess vitamin E supplementation might be associated with an increase in total mortality, heart failure, and stroke. Due to these risks, the American Heart Association does not recommend the use of vitamin E supplements for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. However, vitamin E should be consumed through the diet in amounts satisfying daily recommended values.

Betaine

Trimethylglycine, or betaine, is a substance that the body typically produces to support liver function and homocysteine metabolism. Foods such as wheat germ, spinach, beets, and fish are good sources of betaine.

Although needed for various functions in the body, excess consumption of betaine can raise cholesterol levels.

People with heart disease or at risk of heart disease should not take betaine supplements without first consulting their healthcare provider. Patients with obesity and those with a history of heartburn or stomach ulcers should also use caution before starting a supplement containing betaine.

How to choose the supplements you really need?

Rather than purchasing a supplement for heart health just because it looks good on the surface, it is vital to look at the product's ingredients and dosages. Some natural ingredients can be detrimental or ineffective. You can avoid these products by identifying these ingredients by reading the label. It also gives you the option to choose products that contain the particular substances you want to consume more of.

Examine the nutrients in your diet to see if you are not getting enough of any that are good for heart health. If you are unable to eat more foods high in these nutrients, think about taking a supplement to help you consume more of some of the essential nutrients.

Before starting any supplement talk with your doctor to determine if you would benefit from the use of a supplement. If at any time you have questions or concerns regarding supplements, talk with your healthcare provider immediately.

Tips how to keep your heart healthy

Lifestyle and dietary changes are important to help support a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease and its complications. Although some supplements can help support heart health, they are not a substitute for developing a healthy lifestyle and diet.

Exercise

The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (swimming, jogging, or biking) five days a week in combination with two days a week of strengthening or resistance training exercises.

Exercise has been shown to help reduce blood pressure, improve good cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, help maintain a healthy weight, and reduce inflammation within the body. Together these benefits can help lower the risk of heart disease and its complications.

Healthy diet and weight loss

Consuming a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats, trans fats, and processed foods can help reduce cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Diets such as the Mediterranean diet that incorporates healthy fats from fish and oils can provide additional benefits.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to reduce the risk of diabetes, improve blood pressure, and lower the risk of complications such as heart attacks and stroke. If you are having trouble with your weight, a dietician may be able to help.

Reduce sodium intake

Heart disease risk is increased by 6% for every gram of dietary sodium ingested on a daily basis. Following a low-sodium diet can provide significant benefits and improve heart health. Tips to reduce sodium intake are to eat fresh fruits and vegetables rather than canned ones and use a salt substitute to season your foods.

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