Health Fitness

Target specific heart health risks

Guide to nutritional supplements for heart protection:

Eating a heart-healthy diet can go a long way to reduce your risk, but for many people it’s not enough. Medications that protect the heart often come with bothersome side effects, such as fatigue and the possibility of liver disease. For some risk factors, such as homocysteine ​​and low-density lipoproteins, prescription drugs are not available.


I. Total cholesterol: Desirable cholesterol is below 200; high limit is between 200 and 239; high is 240 and above.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements:

plant sterols. Beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols have a chemical structure similar to that of cholesterol, which allows them to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine. Several studies have found that plant sterols can reduce cholesterol levels by an average of 6 to 8 percent. Take sterol supplements 2 to 3 times a day, products labeled as plant sterols, phytosterols, or beta-sitosterols.

Niacin: This form of vitamin B-3 has been known since the 1950s to lower cholesterol levels. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration to lower cholesterol, it is sold both by prescription and over-the-counter. As effective as niacin is, it triggers the release of histamine, which will often make the skin red and tingling for about an hour. If you continue to take niacin, the intense bouts of flushing should eventually ease. Start with 100mg. once or twice a day and work up to 500 to 1,000 mg. three times a day.

Coenzyme Q10: People who must take statins should also take 100 to 200 mg. of CoQ10 a day because statins can deplete the body’s natural supply.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: Small, dense LDL cells are much more likely to cause blood clots than larger, less dense ones. And when a person’s antioxidant intake is low, LDL oxidation increases, which appears to be a key step in the development of heart disease. If the total LDL is high, it may be worth having an additional blood test to find out which type is predominant.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements: Plant sterols can lower LDL levels by an impressive 8 to 14 percent. Take sterol supplements 2 to 3 times a day, products labeled as plant sterols, phytosterols, or beta-sitosterols.

Vitamin E: It will not lower LDL, but it will curb its tendency to promote heart disease. Contrary to common belief, LDL isn’t all bad: it’s needed to transport fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin E and coenzyme Q10, through your bloodstream. Vitamin E and other fat-soluble antioxidants prevent the oxidation of LDL. Take 400 to 800 IU of naturally occurring vitamin E.

Dietary options: To lower LDL, reduce your intake of saturated fat (in fatty meats and dairy products) and avoid processed foods that contain trans fats, such as most shortenings, partially hydrogenated oils, and most sweet and salty cookies from the market.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: HDL is widely considered the “good” form of cholesterol, primarily because it helps transport LDL, or bad cholesterol, to the liver, where the LDL is then processed for excretion. The higher your HDL levels, the lower your risk of heart disease.

Ideal HDL levels are 55 mg/dL or higher for women and 45 mg/dL or higher for men.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements:

L-carnitine: A component of protein, it is highly recommended.

“Omega 3” fish oil supplements: contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both essential dietary fats that increase HDL. They are also powerful anticoagulants, so they prevent clotting and help regulate heart rhythm.

Niacin: A form of vitamin B-3, will raise HDL levels. You may experience an intense flushing sensation for an hour after taking it. Aim for 500 to 1,000 mg. three times a day.

Dietary Options: To increase HDL, don’t skimp too much on fat, particularly heart-healthy fish oils and olive oil. Low-fat diets, long recommended to reduce the risk of heart disease, actually lower HDL levels. Cut back on refined carbohydrates, which can lower HDL.

Triglycerides: Triglycerides actually make up most of the fat found in the blood and in body fat. A higher ratio of triglycerides to HDL has been associated with a significant increase in the risk of heart attack.

Anything below 150 mg/dL is considered normal. Aim for 100 mg. or less. Levels from 150 to 199mg. are borderline high, and 200 mg. and above are considered high.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements:

Fish oil supplements: can lead to impressive reductions in triglyceride levels. In some studies, plant sterols have also been shown to lower triglycerides.

Dietary Choices: Triglyceride levels are directly related to the amount of refined carbohydrates you eat, so cut back on table sugar, white bread, cookies and other sweets, refined pasta and bagels, and focus instead on whole grains.

Homocysteine: Homocysteine ​​is normally a short-lived byproduct of protein metabolism; only when the levels rise do they cause problems. If you eat a lot of vegetables, particularly those that contain folic acid like spinach, romaine lettuce, and other greens, your homocysteine ​​level is most likely at healthy levels.

The American Heart Association considers normal levels to be 5 to 15 micromoles per liter of blood. Ideal levels are less than 7.

Beneficial Nutritional Supplements:

Three B vitamins are particularly helpful in breaking down homocysteine: folic acid (1,000 to 5,000 mcg daily), vitamin B-6 (25 to 50 mg daily), and vitamin B-12 (2,000 mcg daily).

Dietary Options: Load up on leafy greens: spinach, romaine lettuce.

V. Glucose tolerance

Beneficial nutritional supplements: Many supplements can help lower and stabilize glucose and insulin levels, but if you already take glucose-regulating medications, be sure to work with your doctor to adjust your dosage.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid: An antioxidant, it is widely used in Germany to treat peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disease caused by diabetes. Studies have found that it can lower glucose and insulin levels. Take 100 to 300 mg. daily.

Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral, it has been shown to lower glucose and cholesterol levels. Take 400 to 1,000 mcg. daily.

Cinnamon: May reduce fasting glucose levels, total cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Ginseng supplements: 1 to 3 grams of American ginseng (Panax quinqufolius L.) significantly reduced the rise in blood sugar.

Silymarin: The antioxidant-rich extract of milk thistle is well known to increase liver activity. Italian researchers found that 600 mg. of silymarin per day reduced several key measures of glucose tolerance, including fasting glucose and insulin, over the course of a year.

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