15 Dietary Supplements For Heart Health

Did you ever lay back for a while and wondered that over 610,000 Americans fail to make it every year due to an unhealthy heart? Well, the data sets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) pin down the number of Americans having heart attacks each year to be 735,000, now lay back again and decide whether you want a healthy heart or not?

These stats point towards major contemplation about the way one lives because the lifestyle of a person and dietary habits plays a definitive role in determining the healthy-heart status.

On this note, a popular quote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine (460-370 BC), precisely highlights the role of certain foods in disease prevention.

What Are Nutraceuticals?  

Nutraceuticals is a term used for specifying the amalgamation of two words ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceuticals’ (that’s like Avengers and Justice League coming together). Nutraceuticals are the plant based medications that are extracted from seeds or herbs that have the potential of treating major life-threatening diseases.

The term ‘nutraceutical’ was coined in 1989 by Stephen DeFelice, who is founder and chairman of an American Organization the Foundation for Innovation in Medicine, situated in New Jersey. He defined nutraceuticals as any food or parts of foods mostly present in a product form that can be either a pill or a supplement used for the treatment of a specific disease.

Currently, numerous nutraceuticals that are known for providing cardio-protective properties against major diseases such as heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, hypertension and atherosclerosis are being used, which have also been backed up by scientific evidences.

The term “nutraceutical” has no meaning in US law. Depending on its ingredients and the claims with which it is marketed, a product is regulated as a drug, dietary supplement, food ingredient, or food.

Categorization Of Nutraceuticals

These days hundreds and thousands of nutraceuticals are commercially available in markets in a variety of shapes, sizes and formulations due to their skyscraping demand. These can be found as powdered supplements, packed seed extract, fortified drinks, or may be in the form of baked goods and much more as the list goes on.

Therefore, the distinction of these beneficial health stimulatory compounds can become a troublesome job for the consumer. So, let us help you in efficiently classifying some of the major types of nutraceuticals because we will be there for you ( F.R.I.E.N.D.S reference) These can be classified on the three basic factors, which are dependent upon:

  • The chemical constituent of the products
  • The natural food sources
  • Specific disease conditions

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Different Forms Of Dietary Supplements (Nutraceuticals)

 Nutraceuticals are grouped mostly in the following categories:

  • Dietary Powdered Supplements
  • Superfood Seed Extracts
  • Supplements Enclosed In Capsules or Pills
  • Extracted Vitamins
  • Food Extracts In Gel Form
  • Fortified Foods: Fortified Drinks And Baked Goods

Dietary Supplements For Cardiovascular Disease

Various nutraceuticals are commercially prepared for targeting major risk factors associated with prominent cardiovascular diseases. However, the time period for use and dosage for every product differs accordingly. There are four main approaches by the help of which different nutraceuticals work upon consumption in the human body, in order to provide potential health benefits for averting major cardiovascular diseases. These are:

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  • Using antioxidants for neutralization of harmful free radicals
  • By reducing LDL cholesterol levels
  • By lowering Triglyceride levels in the body
  • By reducing the amount of plague in the arteries

15 Dietary Supplements With Major Cardio-Protective Role

Here are some commonly used dietary supplements, which have been scientifically proven as effective therapeutic agents for improving the symptoms for risk factors associated with CVD.

dietary supplements

  1. Pantethine

Pantethine (Try saying it pan-ty-theen) supplements are readily available in the market. It is a compound that belongs to the Vitamin B5 family. Pantethine reduces the risk of CVD by reducing inflammatory markers in the blood as well as by inhibiting the platelet accumulation in the major arteries. This supplement has been found to help in reducing triglycerides levels in the blood. Pantethine is naturally present in milk, eggs, peas, starchy vegetables and cereals.

A research trial conducted on 32 subjects who consumed pantethine showed a marked decrease in total cholesterol levels. Moreover, the LDL cholesterols levels were reduced panthethine supplementation.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Plant Based Sterols

Phytosterols are the plant based bioactive compounds which demonstrate cholesterol lowering capacity. These compounds share structural similarities with cholesterol molecules and therefore are associated with decreased absorption of cholesterol from the gastrointestinal tract according to research studies.

Plant sterols in moderate quantities interfere with cholesterol absorption and are considered as one of the oldest pharmacological therapies for hypercholesterolemia. These are available in supplements form and can also be obtained from nuts and grains by natural means.

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A dietary interventional trial showed that plant sterols consumption resulted in drop of cholesterol absorption from the gut and lower levels of plasma LDL cholesterol were recorded at the end of the study. Phyto-sterolic supplements have been recommended as safe amount for cholesterol-lowering effects.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Fish Oil Supplements

Stop escaping the fish oil, stop it!
Omega-3 containing fish oil supplements are considered as one of the major revenue generating products. Their widespread use for different diseases including gastrointestinal, rheumatic, psychiatric, metabolic, renal, dermatologic, pulmonary, and cardiovascular diseases make them one of the best choices among other nutraceuticals. Two major types of long chain omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (these names are scarier than the disease themselves), which are obtained from seafood. Fish oil contains the highest amount of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

American Heart Association recommends increased consumption of fatty fish or omega-3 PUFA supplements to prevent CVD due to their cardio-protective role in decreasing risk of arrhythmias i.e. abnormal heartbeats, which are contributory factor of sudden death.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

Moreover, Omega-3 fatty acids have been seen in lowering triglyceride levels. Omega-3 fatty acids capsules under a physician’s care is suggested for heart healthy benefits. Furthermore, caution should be taken as excessive amounts of such supplements might cause excessive bleeding in some people.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Lycopene

Lycopene is a bright red phytochemical that is a carotenoid in nature. It is present in abundance in tomatoes. Different review studies confirm the beneficial association of lycopene supplementation in reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases.

A research study that concluded results over a period of one week suggested that subjects who ingested lycopene in the form of various nutraceutical forms such as tomato juice, tomato sauce, and oleoresin soft gel capsules showed reduced LDL cholesterol levels.

Oral supplementation was seen to improve endothelial function in CVD patients.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Ubiquinone

Co-enzyme Q-10 or ubiquinone is a natural antioxidant that is present in the mitochondria of living organisms and can be utilized in the form of a dietary supplement. It works by improving the energy production in cells and leads to inhibition of blood clot formation by lowering LDL levels in blood. Another useful effect of its consumption is related to preventing damage to the heart during periods of stress.

Lower quantities of this co-enzyme in the body have been identified as a leading cause of CVD. It is reported to have significant reduction in systolic blood pressures in controlled interventional trials.

The use of ubiquinone can turn out to be more beneficial as a preventive measure rather than the actual treatment of the CVD conditions.

Primary dietary sources of CoQ10 include fish such as salmon and tuna, organ meats (such as liver), and whole grains.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Garlic Extract

Don’t make the blekh face! They are good.
Research shows that garlic in both forms; food and in supplements can provide excellent cholesterol lowering capacities. The bioactive component of garlic is an amino acid called alliin which is further converted to allicin. Garlic extract that has organosulfur compounds can serve as powerful antioxidants and contribute to lipid profile improvement. It helps in cleansing of arteries and has the potential of lowering your risk of blood clots.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

Studies acclaim garlic with the treatment of hypertension and hyperlipidemia due to its blood pressure and cholesterol lowering effects in individuals who take it on a regular basis. A recent study also showed that 1.2 grams of garlic extract, 3 times per day for 2 weeks significantly reduced the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Hawthorn Extract

Fruit extracts also fall under the domain of nutraceuticals. Hawthorn is a fruiting plant that contains several bioactive compounds. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of cardiovascular conditions due to its vasodilatory effects.

A study concluding the results of the extract consumption stated that 160-900 mg divided into three doses can provide beneficial effects. However, excessive use was also linked with some adverse reactions like mild rash, headache, sweating, dizziness, palpitations, sleepiness, agitation, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Hawthorn extract for therapeutic purposes was not quiet recommended as it inhibits the function of major drugs which are used for treating various heart symptoms. However, a recent research study showed that 1,200 mg per day of hawthorn extract for 16 weeks significantly reduced blood pressure in diabetic patients with no adverse effects.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. NATTO-K8

Natto is a Japenese food that looks like cheese and is made from boiled or steamed soybeans fermented with bacteria known as Bacillus subtilis. The famous cardio-protective nutraceuticals is designed from an enzyme extracted from soybeans and exhibit strong fibrinolytic activity.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

Therefore, the enzymes present in this supplement have been associated with improving blood viscosity and reducing blood clots. A research demonstrated decreased plasma levels of fibrinogen, factor VII, and factor VIII. Thus, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries can be eluded by use of this product. The mechanism of action of the supplement resembles many thrombolytic drugs but is cheap and has no harmful effects.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Fiber Supplements For Your Heart

Blond psyllium husk is a commonly known fiber supplement and has the ability to lower LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. Daily fiber is recommended for healthy heart functioning as it soaks up the cholesterol from the body.

Nutritionists recommend getting your daily dose from foods, but dietary supplements provide an effective alternate option too. It is naturally present in fruits, grains, vegetables, and legumes.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Guggul Gum (Oleo-gum resin)

Guggul (cute right?) is a plant based gum resin obtained from Commiphora mukul tree (not cute now?). This resin has been scientifically proven as an excellent therapeutic neutraceutical for heart patients.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

It possesses hypolipidemic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities and has been associated with lowering high cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Red Yeast Rice Extracts

Bioactive compounds present in the extracts of red yeast show chemical similarities with the statin drugs, which have proven cholesterol-reducing powers. These types of yeast raise HDL i.e. good cholesterol levels and eliminate LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream. Thus, preventing against atherosclerotic diseases caused due to vascular blockages and reduction in triglyceride level.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Policosanol

Policosanol is a liquid supplement obtained from the wax of sugar cane. It is commonly used to reduce cholesterol levels. Policosanol was found to be effective for improving lipid profiles in cardiac patients.

In another research study same amount of the neutraceutical led to decreased risk of atherosclerosis by reduction of platelet aggregation in animal subjects.

Policosanol, dietary supplements

A recent review of 29 studies revealed that significant reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. Moreover, HDL i.e. good cholesterol was increased up to 11% along with marked reduction in triglyceride levels.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Niacin Supplements

Niacin supplements are the richest source of vitamin B3. Researchers suggest that LDL cholesterol lowering qualities of this product are due to its ability to vasodilate arteries. The course of action of this nutraceutical is similar to the statin drugs. Since high cholesterol has been linked to cardiovascular disease, lowering LDL levels has been credited to the use of niacin supplements.

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Seed Supplements

Chia, cocoa, sesame, date seeds are considered as the superfoods due to numerous health benefits against collection of diseases. The consumption of the seeds in a variety of recipes can serve as an effective strategy especially for prevention and treatment of CVD. Sesame seeds have also has been reported to achieve desirable results for lipid profile improvement.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

  1. Protein peptides

The use of dietary peptides derived from milk protein mediated by ACE inhibition can provide an excellent strategy to reduce artery plaque through fibrinolytic activity. Moreover, blood pressure reduction is one of the main perks of using protein peptides from plant based sources.

 whey peptides in the form of hydrolyzed whey protein supplement led to reduction of blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels  in stage one hypertensive individuals, according to a controlled trial.

Forms of Nutraceuticals, dietary supplements

Note: However, the exact quantity should be taken upon consultation with your healthcare provider.

Safety Profile Of Dietary Supplements

Since the use of the ‘dietary supplements’ is no way near the use of other synthetically made disease-preventing ‘pharmaceuticals’.

However, these beneficial substances that are obtained from the natural sources are highly doubted for causing adverse effects to the body. A little reality check here would be very helpful in authenticating them as harmless and fit for human consumption.

All of the nutraceuticals mentioned in this feature have been scientifically proven and are obtained from the literature of controlled human interventional trials.

Moreover, it should be noted that nutraceuticals differ from other drugs firstly due to the nature or source and secondly due to the flexibility in the approval by the FDA.

As a nutraceutical does not have to be approved as safe for human consumption before making its way into the market, unlike drugs, that have to be approved by FDA before being allowed into the market therefore, the safety profile of nutraceuticals can only be challenged, if there are any sort of harmful effects associated with consumption after being launched as a product in the market. This can be labeled as both; good and bad news.

Nutraceuticals are obtained from natural food sources therefore they do not deliver prominent harmful side effects. Research studies have confirmed the promising effect of many dietary supplements that provide safe and effective management of cardiovascular risk factors. The use of nutraceuticals in specified moderate amounts can serve as a beneficial approach in treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Healthcare authorities should use structured approach in order to set precedence for the use of these natural beneficial supplements for treatment purposes.

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