February is Cardiovascular Health Month!
The World Health Organization and the American Heart Association have reported cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of mortality, making it essential to address and ideally prevent the condition. Fortunately, several of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are modifiable, such as elevated blood pressure, irregular cholesterol levels, and being overweight or obese. Lifestyle modifications, including a heart-healthy diet, regular physical activity, smoking cessation, and certain dietary supplements, can be implemented to support cardiovascular health. Check out a few of the most important nutrients for cardiovascular health and some of my favorite brands of each below.
Coenzyme Q10 Coenzyme Q10, commonly referred to as CoQ10, is a fat-soluble antioxidant found in the heart, kidneys, liver, and pancreas. CoQ10 provides heart cells with energy and protects them from free radical damage, supporting cardiovascular health. As a dietary supplement, CoQ10 may reduce inflammation and improve markers of cardiovascular function when used in conjunction with statin medication.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids, and more specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are well-known for their anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective effects. Intake of EPA and DHA has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and fatal coronary heart disease. Additionally, omega-3 supplementation may improve peripheral artery disease (PAD) and atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the build-up of plaque and narrowing of the arteries.
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) Hawthorn is a genus of medicinal herbs that includes approximately 300 different species. Several beneficial effects of hawthorn have been identified, including antioxidant, hypotensive (blood pressure-lowering), and anti-atherosclerotic (to prevent or counteract atherosclerosis) effects. Research suggests that long-term hawthorn supplementation may help improve the signs and symptoms of heart failure.
Garlic (Allium sativum) A member of the allium plant family, garlic is a culinary and medicinal herb. Garlic has been shown to provide antimicrobial, antioxidant, hypoglycemic (blood sugar-reducing), and hypolipidemic (blood lipid-lowering) effects. Garlic supplements have been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels, improve blood pressure in hypertensive patients, and lower C-reactive protein, an indicator of inflammation. It can also be helpful to add more garlic to your diet!
Magnesium An essential mineral, magnesium is required for over 300 reactions in the body, including blood pressure regulation, nerve function, and cardiac conduction. In Western countries, an estimated 68% of adults consume below the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of magnesium daily. Supplementation with magnesium may provide several cardiovascular benefits and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of hypertension, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, mitral valve prolapse, and heart failure. Try adding more leafy greens, nuts, and avocado into your diet to increase your magnesium intake.
Naturopathic care can play an integral part of cardiovascular health! Addressing lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, sleep, and stress are the basics of naturopathic medicine and play a huge role in heart health. Whether your concerns are dealing with a chronic disease process or working on preventative medicine, a naturopathic doctor (like me!) can be an essential part of your care team! 🌿