Heart Health Supplements

With the wide range of health supplements claiming to benefit heart health, you may be confused with selecting a suitable product for yourself.

Let's take a closer look at the list of common heart health supplements:

  1. Fish Oils 
  2. Garlic 
  3. Flaxseed Oil 
  4. Red Yeast Rice 
  5. Vitamin E 

Did you Know?
Omega-3 may interact with blood thinners eg. aspirin, warfarin to cause excessive bleeding. If you are taking any medications, discuss with your pharmacist before starting omega-3 supplements.

1.  Fish Oils 

Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people, and those at high risk of, or who have, cardiovascular disease. The link between omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular risk reduction are still being studied, but research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids

  • decrease risk of arrhythmias, which can lead to sudden cardiac death
  • decrease triglyceride levels
  • decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque (which can block blood vessels)
  • lower blood pressure (slightly)

However, more studies are needed to confirm and further define the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for preventing a first or subsequent cardiovascular event.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Fish is a good source of protein and does not have high saturated fat, which fatty meat products do have. Fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon are high in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids : eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

2. Garlic 

Garlic appears to hold promise in reducing paratmeters associated with cardiovascular disease. They may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of blood clots blocking blood vessels. More in-depth and appropriate studies are required.

3. Flaxseed Oil 

Alpha-linolenic acid (LNA), can become omega-3 fatty acid in the body. The AHA recommends tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnut, flaxseed and their oils. More studies are needed to determine the relationship between alpha-linolenic acid and heart disease.

4.  Red Yeast Rice 

Since the 1970s, human studies have reported that red yeast rice lowers cholesterol (total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides). It contains several compounds collectively known as monacolins, which inhibit cholesterol synthesis. If you have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and prescribed medication for it, you should not substitute the medication for red yeast rice.

5.  Vitamin E 

Scientific evidence does not suggest that consuming antioxidant vitamins (A, C and E) eliminates the need to reduce blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol or stop smoking cigarettes.

Hence, antioxidant supplements are not recommended. Instead antioxidant food sources, especially plant-derived foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods and vegetable oils are recommended.

Talk to your pharmacist/doctor before taking any health supplements to reduce the risk of drug interactions.

Remember that health supplements are NOT meant to substitute your prescribed drug treatment, good nutrition plans and regular exercise regime.

Copyright @ 2012 NHG Pharmacy. All rights reserved
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