8 Evidence based foods and supplements that are good for your cardiovascular health - Baobab Health

8 Evidence based foods and supplements that are good for your cardiovascular health

Cardiovascular disease is one of the most common causes of death in the western world. It used to be thought that dietary saturated fat, and cholesterol were the main drivers behind this growing epidemic, however recent evidence has shown otherwise.

I wrote a 3 part series about cardiovascular disease and explained why saturated fat and cholesterol are not the main drivers behind heart disease. I also outlined how our conventional treatment of the disease using cholesterol-lowering drugs (i.e. statins) is inadequate and we need to rethink how we approach this disease from a diet and lifestyle perspective.

If you are at risk of heart disease or already have heart disease, I believe it is important to seek a qualified health professional who is aware of the current research and is willing to help you make diet and lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk of any cardiovascular events. These changes should first start off with addressing the 4 pillars of health, diet, sleep, exerszie and stress management.

Furthermore, incorporating some heart healthy, cardio-protective foods and supplements would also be of great benefit. This post will outline these foods and supplements, which I believe are of particular importance for anyone at risk or suffering from heart disease.

So here it is, my top 8 foods and supplements that you should incorporate if you are at risk or suffering from heart disease:  

CoQ10 – 150-300mg per day:

Is a coenzyme that plays many important physiological functions in the body. It is naturally synthesized by the body but production decreases as we get older and in certain diseases. It plays a key role in energy production and is a potent anti-oxidant.

Because of its anti-oxidant capacities, it can protect LDL particles in the blood from being oxidized and causing plaque build up.

In simplistic terms, LDL or the so-called “bad cholesterol” is actually a molecule that carries cholesterol and other nutrients like CoQ10 around the body. LDL particles become an issue when they “crash” into the walls of our arteries, as this starts a cascade leading to cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels that cause blockades. So basically, CoQ10 prevents LDL particles from “crashing” into our artery walls and causing plaque build up.

CoQ10 has also been shown to assist with reducing blood pressure, which is a risk factor for cardio vascular disease.

Lastly, anyone taking a statin should always be taking CoQ10 supplements. This is because statins decrease the production on CoQ10 in the body, and this coenzyme is crucial for protecting us from heart disease. Many of the side effects associated with statin use (i.e. fatigue, muscle pain/fatigue and diabetes) are due to the depletion of CoQ10.

It is a very safe and effective supplement.

Garlic: 600 – 1,200mg/day of a garlic extract supplement or 2-3 cloves per day:

Garlic decreases blood clotting, inflammation, blood pressure and improves our cholesterol levels. It has been shown to decrease LDL and triglycerides, while increasing HDL. Incorporating garlic into the diet as well as taking a garlic extract supplement, is a great idea for anyone who is at risk of heart disease or has heart disease.

It is a very safe and effective supplement.

Cucumin: 80-500mg/day of supplemental curcumin:

Curcumin is the yellow pigment associated with the curry spice, Turmeric. It is a small molecule that exerts potent anti-inflammatory effects, which is therefore protective against heart disease as heart disease has inflammation at the core of its pathogenesis.

It is also heart healthy by supporting the hearts electrical functions, decreasing blood pressure and reducing lipid and plaque levels in arteries, and both reducing the risk of diabetes and being a good treatment for the side-effects associated with diabetes.

It has a poor oral bioavailability (a low percentage of what you consume is absorbed into the blood) and thus should be taken in supplemental form that has other compounds in it that enhance its absorption.

It is a very safe and effective supplement.

Oleic acid:

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid that is primarily found in olives, olive oil, avocado and nuts. It is a cardio-protective fat that has been shown to decrease LDL oxidation as well as improving our lipid markers. Therefore if you have or are at risk of heart disease make sure you add oleic acid containing foods into your diet.

Magnesium: 400 – 800mg/day:

Magnesium deficiency is a very common nutrient deficiency and is one of those nutrients that most people should be supplementing with. It is an important nutrient for people at risk of heart disease because magnesium deficiency can result in high blood pressure and insulin resistance, which in turn increases blood glucose levels. Increased blood glucose levels are the hallmark feature of diabetes, which is a large risk factor for heart disease. Magnesium is found in nuts, cacao and seeds.

It is a very safe and effective supplement.

Leafy greens and beetroot:

These foods are high in chemicals called nitrites, which is a precursor to a molecule called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps dilate our blood vessels in order to decrease blood pressure. It also acts as an anti-oxidant and anti-clotting agent in our blood vessels, which in turn decreases the chances of LDL particles crashing and blood clots forming.

Oleurepin:

Is a plant phenolic found in olive oil and olives. It has been shown to decrease blood pressure and be extremely good at preventing LDL particles from crashing into our arteries. So if you have or are at risk of heart disease, up your intake of olives and olive oil!

L-Carnitine: 500 – 2,000mg per day:

L-Carnitine is naturally produced by the body and is an important molecule in energy production. It helps to decrease blood pressure as well as decreasing blood glucose levels.

It is a very safe and effective supplement.

Wrap up:

While these supplements can be therapeutic for anyone who is suffering from or is at risk of heart disease, there is no replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle.