5 Important Heart Nutrients You Shouldn’t Ignore
By now most people who follow general heart health recommendations already know some of the key nutrients that support heart health.
Nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats have received much attention for their cardiovascular benefits. These are commonly found in some types of fish, flaxseed and olive oil, avocado and some types of nuts. But there are many more, lesser known nutrients that, likewise, help to support good cardiovascular health. Consider adding these five nutrients into your regular diet if you are seeking this benefit.
Do you often experience backaches, joint pain, weak bones, memory problems or other “age-related” health issues? You’re not alone.
Many of these common health burdens are simply due to a vitamin deficiency experienced by a whopping 75% of adults in the U.S. The good news is that this deficiency can be corrected quickly, easily and inexpensively.
Sure, most everyone is familiar with the term magnesium, but how many of us actually know the specifics about its health benefits—or the fact that it is especially good for heart health? As a matter of fact, magnesium is an essential nutrient for regulating and promoting normal cardiac rhythm. In fact, magnesium is the primary treatment for an irregular heartbeat, or a heart arrhythmia. Moreover, magnesium has also been shown to reduce blood pressure in several studies. So, if you’re looking to improve your cardiovascular health, and perhaps regulate your heartbeat in the process, be sure to eat plenty of walnuts and spinach. These two foods are packed with magnesium.
Clearly, thick blood is a primary cause of unhealthy blood pressure, poor blood flow and artery damage. And the production of excess clotting proteins, as we age, called fibrin and fibrinogen, are a major reason why.
Luckily, there is a natural way to break up fibrin and support healthy fibrinogen levels to promote normal blood clotting and healthy blood flow — it’s a powerful natural enzyme called nattokinase.
Nattokinase is naturally found in natto, a “vegetable cheese” formed by fermenting soybeans, and its power for supporting cardiovascular health was first demonstrated thanks to a breakthrough discovery by Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi, a physician and researcher at the University of Chicago. In his quest to discover natural ways to maintain healthy circulation, Dr. Sumi tested some 173 different foods before striking gold with natto — and, as with many great discoveries, it was essentially by accident!
Dr. Sumi placed some of the leftover natto he was eating for lunch into a petri dish in his lab along with some fibrin and was amazed to see that the natto completely dissolved the fibrin! He isolated the enzyme in the natto and named it “nattokinase.” Dr. Sumi concluded that nattokinase had a fibrin-dissolving potency “matched by no other enzyme.”
But here is the really amazing part. Consuming nattokinase can lead to healthier circulation in just 60 minutes!
By dissolving fibrin, nattokinase has shown remarkable benefits in helping people maintain:
- Better Blood Flow: In a clinical study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition Research, patients were given two capsules of nattokinase daily for two months. Their levels of fibrinogen and other factors that thicken blood all significantly decreased.
- Healthier Blood Pressure: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled medical study, 86 people who had trouble maintaining healthy blood pressure levels were given nattokinase or a placebo for 8 weeks. People who took nattokinase reported significant improvements in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
3. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 has been identified as a key nutrient that is found in every single cell in the human body. However, not everyone is aware that this nutrient is especially concentrated in the heart. CoQ10 also acts as an antioxidant in the bloodstream and is most highly concentrated in our hearts, making it an important nutrient for cardiovascular health.
CoQ10 exists naturally in beef, organ meats, soy oil and some types of fish. But is often taken as a supplement as well, since the amounts present in these foods tend to be relatively low. Fortunately, if you feel unsure as to whether or not you have enough CoQ10 in your diet, there are several ways to evaluate yourself for a possible deficiency.
4. Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is often called the master antioxidant because it has the remarkable power to recharge other antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and CoQ10. But ALA’s real superstar status comes from its ability to boost your natural glutathione level, an antioxidant so powerful some leading researchers say your levels are “the single best indicator of how long you’ll live.”
So why not supplement directly with glutathione itself? Because glutathione won’t make it through your stomach — the acid will simply destroy it!
But in addition to boosting your natural glutathione levels, numerous clinical studies demonstrate ALA’s ability to reduce oxidative stress and improve heart-protecting HDL-cholesterol.
ALA also helps keep your arteries flexible and supple, which supports both healthy blood pressure and improved circulation. In fact, ALA is shown to reduce pain and cramping that may be caused by poor blood flow.
Most of us have heard that a regular glass of red wine plays a role in promoting cardiovascular health. However, less people recognize that resveratrol is the critical nutrient that exists in wine with this function. This nutrient is also common in dark chocolate, blueberries and cranberries, and pistachios and peanuts. Resveratrol boosts cardiovascular health by preventing our blood from clotting. Thus, it reduces the risks of a heart attack. In addition, resveratrol is proficient in enhancing antioxidant and nitric oxide production in our bodies, thereby helping to decrease blood pressure.
Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.