heart supporting nutrients and herbs...

The heart is an amazing feat of biochemical engineering. Each day it beats around 100,000 times, circulating more than 14,000 litres of blood through an estimated 100,000 km of blood vessels. It manages this herculean task with the help of a meshwork of specially adapted muscle cells that spread electrical impulses to one another in a beautifully orchestrated symphony. The best way to prevent acute cardiac issues is to keep the heart healthy by supporting the physical apparatus of the circulatory system and balancing the emotions. Here are details on specific nutrients and herbs that can help us do this.

Heart-Friendly Nutrients
Antioxidants protect the heart and arteries from the damaging effects of free radicals. Antioxidants tend to work in harmonious synergy, playing a highly organised game of pass-the-parcel with these molecular hand-grenades, which have the potential to blast holes in vulnerable tissue.  The following will help to provide comprehensive antioxidant support:

Vitamins C and E, Together these work to prevent inflammation, reduce clotting, repair blood vessels, and help raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL - often referred to as 'good') cholesterol. A combination of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and chicken provide a good spread of these nutrients. To bridge nutritional gaps a high-quality multivitamin/mineral complex is always advised..

Phytonutrients. These potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds are largely found in fruit and vegetables. They include the carotenoid lycopene, which when taken at doses of over 20mg a day has been linked to a 47% reduction in heart attacks. Cooked tomatoes are a particularly rich source of lycopene.

Selenium, manganese, copper and zinc are all key components of antioxidant systems within the body.  Copper depletion is fairly common and has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. Liver, kidney and cocoa are rich sources of copper.  Good levels of selenium, manganese and zinc are found in nuts (particularly Brazil), seafood and whole grains. 

Omega-3 fatty acids
The omega-3s help to reduce inflammation of the arteries, cut the tendency to clotting, can reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL, so called 'bad') cholesterol, and increase levels of HDL cholesterol. Their heart-protective effects were confirmed by a meta-analysis (a review of existing scientifically conducted trials) which concluded that for patients with coronary heart disease, omega-3 from either diet or supplements significantly reduced the risk of death from heart attack as well as the incidence of sudden death.

Although oily fish are rich sources of omega-3 they also tend to attract environmental pollutants, such as dioxins and PCBs (poly-chlorinated biphenyls). To minimise exposure to these toxins, opt for smaller fish further down the food chain. Both fresh and tinned sardines, and herring and mackerel - eaten up to twice a week - are excellent options. When supplementing look for high-quality, purified brands that supply daily intakes of 120-360 mg EPA and 80-240 mg DHA. Krill Oil which is at the begining of the food chain (found in the artic and antarctic waters) and contains astaxanthin is particulary recommended. Note - use omega-3s with caution if you are taking other anti-clotting agents.

CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
CoQ10 is found in especially high concentrations in organs that require a lot of energy, such as the heart. Without CoQ10, energy production and therefore organ function would screech to a halt. Researchers proven that in most cases of heart problems, there is an associated deficiency of CoQ10 and when supplemental CoQ10 is administered, ailing hearts started showing signs of new life.

Nutritionally orientated doctors now agree that suppplements of Co Q10 are absolutely essential for people with heart failure. CoQ10 has been proven in many patients who used it to live longer, lead  more active lives, has saved some people who would otherwise have died waiting for donor hearts and has even allowed some to take their names off the transplant list.

Studies at the University of Texas at Austin showed that 75 percent of heart patients have severe deficiencies of CoQ10 in heart tissue compared with healthy individuals. They have also found that taking coenzyme Q-10 significantly benefited three-fourths of a group of elderly patients with congestive heart failure. Not only does it help keep the all the cells of the body healthy and in good condition.

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