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These Supplements for Heart Health Are Backed by Science

Posted by on July 7, 2020 in Food, Drink & Nutrition, Health with 0 Comments

It's the number one cause of premature death. Cardiovascular disease is often a silent disease that doesn't show up until the arteries that deliver blood to your heart are narrowed to the point that your heart gets less. This is why blood vessel health is very important to monitor. But the changes that lead to cardiovascular disease happen gradually over time. Studies show that changes that trigger heart disease show up as early as childhood.

The risk of cardiovascular disease is partially related to genetics, but lifestyle plays a key role in prevention. You probably already know some of the obvious ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke:

  • Exercise consistently
  • Don't smoke and use alcohol only in moderation
  • Consume a heart-healthy diet
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night

With cardiovascular disease being so common, people sometimes turn to private label supplements in hopes of lowering their risk. Are they wasting their money? Let's look at some supplements that show promise for lowering the risk of heart disease.

Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty fish is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies show that people who eat more omega-3-rich fish, like salmon, have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. However, some human trials where subjects take fish oil or long-chain omega-3 supplements fail to show a strong benefit.

One of the more convincing studies was a trial that showed taking 600 milligrams of DHA and 300 milligrams of EPA, two long-chain fatty acids in fish oil, reduced death from cardiovascular disease and mortality from all causes. Some studies also show that taking prescription long-chain omega-3s in the form of EPA offers added protection against cardiovascular disease in people taking statins.

It's not proven that long-chain omega-3 or fish oil supplements reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but there are few downsides to getting more omega-3s through diet or supplementation. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, and some studies suggest that they may be beneficial for reducing inflammation associated with other health conditions like arthritis. Another upside to long-chain omega-3s is they reduce blood triglycerides. When blood triglycerides are too high, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

One precaution: if you take blood thinners, avoid supplemental omega-3s as doing so may increase the risk of bleeding.

Garlic Extract

Pungent, sulfur-rich garlic may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in several ways. Studies show it has favorable effects on blood lipids and can lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, the type linked with cardiovascular disease, by up to 15%. Plus, it modestly raises HDL-cholesterol, the form linked with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies also show it reduces systolic blood pressure in people with hypertension and modestly reduces blood pressure in healthy individuals. Therefore, taking a garlic supplement may reduce markers for cardiovascular risk, including lipids and blood pressure. Plus, garlic has a blood-thinning effect that helps keep blood clots, that could lead to a heart attack or stroke, from forming. For this reason, don't take garlic extract if you're already taking blood thinners.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant available as a supplement. One study found that taking aged garlic extract and coenzyme Q10 reduced markers for cardiovascular disease. Another study found that supplemental coenzyme Q10 alone reduced the risk of dying in people with heart failure. In addition, some cardiologists recommend coenzyme Q10 to patients who are taking statins to reduce the achy muscles and muscle weakness that some people on statins experience. However, it's not clear how well coenzyme Q10 works for muscle problems related to statins. You can get coenzyme Q10 from food sources, including organ meats, broccoli, cauliflower, and fish, but you'd have to consume such high quantities to get the full benefits that it's not practical. That's why coenzyme Q10 supplements are so popular.


Magnesium is a mineral your body needs to run over 300 chemical reactions, including ones involved in blood vessel and heart health. Yet studies show up to half the population is at least marginally deficient in magnesium. That's a concern! One study found that people with the lowest magnesium level were 70% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease relative to those with a higher level. Plus, magnesium aids in blood vessel function and blood pressure control. You can get magnesium from dietary sources, including seeds, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens, but people who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods and refined grains may fall short. That's where supplementation can be an advantage.

The Bottom Line

Heart-healthy lifestyle habits are the best strategy for avoiding cardiovascular disease, but there is some evidence that some supplements may help too. As with all medications and supplements, discuss the pros and cons of taking any supplement with your physician. Some can interact with prescription medications too. It's important to stay active and eat a healthy diet to reduce your risk of heart disease. Taking a supplement won't take the place of heart-healthy lifestyle habits.

Disclaimer: Content from the website and blog is not intended to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and is NOT intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  As health and nutrition research continuously evolves, we do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of any information presented on this website.

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