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6 most effective supplements that can also help your heart

The truth is, your cardiovascular system is only as healthy as your arteries, the blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to other parts of the body. When arteries are damaged, a condition called atherosclerosis – blood flow can be impeded or even blocked.

Atherosclerosis develops in stealth mode, as plaque builds up along the inside lining of the arteries. Plaque is a fatty substance made of cholesterol, calcium, cellular waste, and a blood-clotting material called fibrin. Reducing plaque-causing risk factors is the first step in the fight against atherosclerosis but there are other things you can do to improve artery health.

Here are six supplements that can benefit your heart.

Aged Garlic Extract (AGE)

This pungent herb lowers blood pressure, prevents inflammation, and improves blood vessel elasticity. But its benefits don’t stop there. Scientists recently discovered that it can significantly reduce coronary artery calcification that contributes to reduced blood flow and less flexibility.

Alpha-lipoic Acid (ALA)

This vitamin-like antioxidant protects against free radicals that damage the endothelium. According to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Washington, it also helps extinguish inflammation, prevent plaque formation, and lower triglycerides. Preliminary research suggests that it might even aid in weight loss.

Fish Oil

Fish oil’s ability to protect blood vessels comes from two omega-3 fats: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Studies show that they help reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and modulate many of the mechanisms of atherosclerosis, including inflammation, clotting, and platelet aggregation.

Niacin

In an analysis of seven trials involving more than 5,000 patients, researchers confirmed that taking niacin can raise HDL levels by up to 35 percent. Other studies suggest that niacin prevents cells from clumping together and sticking to artery walls. Be aware that immediate-release supplements can cause flushing. You can help prevent this by taking niacin at bedtime along with stinging nettle. It’s also wise to take niacin under a doctor’s supervision since it may affect liver function in therapeutic doses.

Quercetin

Population-based studies have found that people with high intakes of quercetin-found in green tea, apples, citrus fruits, and leafy green vegetables-tend to have lower rates of heart disease. One reason is that this antioxidant has the ability to prevent inflammation, dilate blood vessels, and reduce plaque buildup. In one study, quercetin reduced the size of atherosclerotic lesions by an impressive 52 percent.

Resveratrol

Research shows that resveratrol, which is found naturally in grape skin, has a direct effect on the health of the cells lining blood vessels. It triggers the release of nitric oxide, which plays a key role in blood vessel relaxation, and it also helps lower LDL cholesterol and prevent platelets from clumping together inside blood vessels. Taken together, this strongly suggests that resveratrol can significantly improve vascular function and help prevent atherosclerosis.

Other supplements that may help save your heart:

• Cranberries

• CoQ10

• Garlic

• Green tea

• Omega-3s

• Chromium

• Turmeric

• Magnesium

• Psyllium

• Sterols

• Vitamin D

• Arginine

• Melatonin

• Valerian, hops, lemon balm

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