I’m a huge proponent of lifestyle changes to maintain your best asset—your health. When it comes to heart health, there’s a lot you can do to protect your ticker and prevent disease. I write about how basic diet changes can affect heart health here, and I hone in on favorite foods for heart attack and stroke prevention here. But what if you want to do even more? Here are my top five heart health supplements.
According to Andrew Weil, MD, this antioxidant supports circulatory health and optimal heart muscle function in addition to reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. It can also be useful for patients on statin medications, which lower the body’s supply of CoQ10. Supplementing with CoQ10 may be particularly helpful for people with chronic heart failure. In one double-blind trial conducted over two years, patients who took 100 mg of CoQ10 three times daily in addition to standard therapy experienced symptom improvement and a reduction of major adverse cardiac events compared to placebo.
2. Fish Oil
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to reduce the inflammation that can lead to cardiac events like heart attack and stroke. According to a recent American Heart Association advisory, omega-3s may be especially beneficial for people who’ve recently had a heart problem. Their study showed a daily 1,000 mg dose of fish oil could reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 10% in heart attack and heart failure patients. When choosing a fish oil supplement, U.S. News & World Reports says to read the label carefully to see how many milligrams of EPA and DHA the product contains—I advise my patients take 2,000 mg of the two combined—and make sure you’re buying from a reputable company to ensure potency and purity.
3. Hibiscus Tea
According to a recent study, hibiscus tea may be as effective as the prescription medication lisinopril for treating high blood pressure. A group of researchers in Nigeria set out to determine the effects of hibiscus tea on blood pressure compared with lisinopril, a known inhibitor of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). In the study, patients with mild to moderate hypertension were given hibiscus tea, placebo fruit drink, or 10 mg of lisinopril every day for four weeks. The hibiscus group had a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure compared to the placebo group at weeks two, three, and four and decreased diastolic blood pressure at week four. Not only is hibiscus tea a safe and inexpensive way to treat high blood pressure, it also tastes great.
Try this recipe by Tieraona Low Dog, MD, from Prevention. But check with your doctor before stopping any blood pressure medications you are currently on. And I don’t recommend this if you have diabetes.
- 4 c water
- 3 Tbsp dried or 4-5 Tbsp fresh hibiscus flowers
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 Tbsp raw sugar
- Juice of 1 orange
Boil water and pour over hibiscus and cinnamon stick. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain out hibiscus and cinnamon stick. Add sugar and orange. Serve hot or iced.
Thanks to its blood-thinning properties, aspirin can help keep your arteries clear by preventing clots from forming. A Canadian meta-analysis examining the use of aspirin to prevent heart attacks found it works especially well for men. Currently, the American Heart Association suggests people at high risk of heart attack should take a low-dose aspirin daily, as well as heart attack survivors.
5. Vitamin D
Studies have shown a strong association between vitamin D deficiency—a common condition in the United States and worldwide—and risk of cardiovascular disease. And a recent analysis by Johns Hopkins of survey responses and health records of more than 10,000 American adults for nearly 20 years found a link between adequate vitamin D levels and exercise in reducing heart attack and stroke risk. Concerned you may be D-deficient? Check in with Dr. Spar about having your level of Vitamin D and other important micronutrients tested to see if supplementation is the right course for you. The Mayo Clinic reports supplement dosing for heart disease varies between 200 and 2,000 IU daily, so check with your doctor about that, too.
Are you getting the nutrients you need for long-term health? Download my Top 10 Supplements For Men PDF to learn about the most critical supplements you need.
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has been a consultant with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on national television, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times. He was most recently National Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer of a national medical practice, but is available to consult with individual patients interested in a personalized approach to optimal performance and health.