12 Nutritional Supplements To Keep Your Heart Healthy

Anyone age 50 or older needs a strategy for preventing heart disease.  Heart Disease is the Number 1 killer in the U.S., responsible for 40% of all deaths.  As state in my previous blogs, we all know Obesity and poor lifestyles in diet and exercise are a major factor in this epidemic.  Nutritional supplements, though, are a critical component in any plan to improve our heart’s health.

After reviewing numerous sources, I have come up with a composite of the most recommended heart health supplements that everyone, particularly those of us “mature” folk, should consider.   Most can be safely taken in any combination. However, red yeast rice and high-dose niacin should be taken under medical supervision.  In no particular preference the supplements are:

 

  • Fish Oil
    If you’re not eating at least two servings a week of a fatty fish such as wild salmon or sardines, you should take 1000-3000 mg daily of fish oil . Research shows that fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk of a heart attack by more than 30%. by reducing inflammation that can cause harmful clotting, reduce high triglycerides that can lead to fatty liver, reduce the risk of clogged arteries after angioplasty or bypass surgery, lower your risk for an irregular heartbeat, lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for stroke. 
  • CoQ10
         This energy-producing substance is concentrated in heart muscle, but with age, the levels drop. Getting extra CoQ10 is important if you take a statin drug, since these drugs deplete CoQ10. It’s also essential if your heart is weak. Taking CoQ10 after a heart attack significantly lowers your risk of another heart attack. It can improve symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling of feet, enlarged liver and trouble sleeping in people with congestive heart failure.   
  • Red Yeast Rice
         Like statin drugs, red yeast rice reduces cholesterol levels. It contains the same active ingredient as statin drugs such as lovastatin, it also contains sterols, isoflavones and monounsaturated fatty acids, all ingredients that provide additional heart protection.  Due to increased risks for liver damage, particularly for diabetics, red yeast rice should only be taken after consulting with your doctor. 
  • Vitamin D
    People with low vitamin D levels are more likely to have the risk factors that cause heart disease: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Vitamin D also affects how well your body absorbs two minerals important for a healthy heart: calcium and magnesium.  Many experts now recommend 2,000 IU or more a day of vitamin D. 
  • Resveratrol
    Resveratrol is the anti-aging component of red wine.  It promotes cardiovascular health by helping to prevent blood clots and may help keep your heart healthy by limiting the effects of cardiac fibrosis, a hardening of the heart tissue. Use a daily supplement of 400mg of standardized resveratrol extract.
  •  B vitamins
    Folic acid, B6 and B12 have been used to reduce blood levels of homocysteine, a toxic biochemical that can harm blood vessels and cause cholesterol to stick to blood vessel walls. Niacin, another B vitamin, is sometime prescribed for treating high cholesterol. It acts on high cholesterol differently than statin drugs and is a first choice for people who need to increase their HDL.  Medical supervision is recommended for Niacin consumption due to its risks to skin and liver.
  • Vitamin E
    Vitamin E helps prevent blood platelets from sticking together, a big factor in blood clotting; stop oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a factor in hardening of the arteries; lower blood pressure by promoting production of blood vessel relaxing nitric oxide, and inhibit cholesterol production in the liver.
  • Garlic
         Garlic extract can preserve elasticity in blood vessels and slow the development of atherosclerosis. It can modestly reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol. 
  • Flavonoids/Antioxidants
    Flavonoids are found in berries, red wine, chocolate, nuts, onions, apples and citrus fruits. They reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease, improve the ability of blood vessels to relax, strengthen capillaries and act as powerful antioxidants. Some of the best sources of flavonoids are, acai extract and goji berry extract, pomegranates, blueberry, bilberry, cranberry, and grape seed extract..  Green Tea is especially noted by nutritional experts for its ability to improve cholesterol levels.
  •  Magnesium
    Magnesium is essential for the proper function of the entire cardiovascular system. It can improve energy production in the heart, dilate coronary arteries, and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
  •  Chromium
    Chromium may reduce LDL and increase HDL. Typical changes are small but important since each 1% decrease in total cholesterol carries a 2% reduction in heart attack or stroke risk, and every 1% increase in HDL carries a 4% decrease in risk.
  •  Vitamin C
    Vitamin C may help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. It also is associated with lower total and LDL cholesterol, and higher levels of HDL.

 

8 Great Nutritional Dietary Treats

You are constantly being  told what you are not supposed to eat. Wouldn’t you rather be told about some “good” foods that actually taste good and can be used in many recipes as well?

The following is a list of a few really tasty items that I enjoy and that you may actually wind up hiding from your relatives or friends to enjoy as a “sinfully delicious” treat by yourself.

1. Pomegranates.

Pomegranates have a reputation for sexual enhancement and longevity. They contain lots of plant chemicals called polyphenols. Pomegranate juice or extract can Improve blood flow to the heart and sex organs, reduce total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, slow the progression of prostate cancer.

2. Cranberries.

Cranberries can protect against brain damage, DNA damage leading to cancer and cardiovascular disease. They contain compounds called proanthocyanidins. Cranberries also prevent the adhesion of certain of bacteria associated with urinary tract infections, inhibit the bacteria associated with gum disease, and help prevent stomach ulcers.

3. Sweet Potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with beta carotene and other carotenoids, the compounds that give these spuds their orange color. Together, these two nutrients act as protective antioxidants that can help protect your eyes from age-related macular degeneration.  A sweet potato has four times the RDA for beta-carotene, which your body can convert to vitamin A.  42% of the RDA for vitamin C and if you eat the skin, more fiber than oatmeal.

4. Green Tea.

Green tea has less caffeine than black tea or coffee, and contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can help you stay awake but calm. Green tea also has many other health benefits aside from its ability to fight fatigue. Two cups a day is fine.

5. Blueberries.

Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Eating blueberries can also help reduce cholesterol, may reduce colon cancer risk, improve night vision and slow macular degeneration by strengthening tiny blood vessels in the back of the eye.  Blueberries, like cranberries,can help prevent urinary tract infections.

6. Black Raspberries.

Black raspberries have also been found in help slow the growth of colon, esophageal and other cancers by reducing genetic damage and inflammation.

7. Apples.

Adding just one large apple a day to your diet can decrease cholesterol by 8-11%, most likely due to the soluble fiber they contain.  That same fiber can also soak up toxins like lead and mercury. That may be the reason apples are consistently associated with a reduced risk of cancer, including liver, colon, breast and prostate cancer.  Antioxidants in apples, found mostly in the peel, help prevent heart disease.

8. Tart Cherries.
Eating about 1½ cups a day of tart cherries can reduce your tendency to put on belly fat and reduce inflammation that can lead to blood vessel damage and heart disease. They contain high amounts of anthocyanin, an antioxidant that aids in this function.

Good Nutrition vs Free Radicals

No, this article is not about a Wild West shoot-out or about the politics of the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Today’s  health opportunity is how to battle the free radicals within your body.

What is a “free radical”?   Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons. They are formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction within your body.  While a few free radicals such as melanin are not chemically reactive, most biologically-relevant free radicals are highly reactive. For most biological structures, free radical damage is closely associated with oxidative damage.

Why do you care?  The chief danger from radicals is the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Cells may function poorly or die if this occurs.  This damage, of particular interest to baby boomers and other aging persons, is cumulative.  Years of incorrect diet, lack of proper nutrition and exposure to toxins wears down the body’s tissues and natural defenses of antioxidants.

 

What are antioxidants?    Antioxidants are molecules which can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged. Although there are several enzyme systems within the body that scavenge free radicals, the principle micro-nutrient (vitamin) antioxidants are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Additionally, selenium, a trace metal that is required for proper function of one of the body’s antioxidant enzyme systems, is sometimes included in this category. The body cannot manufacture these micro-nutrients so they must be supplied in the diet.

How do we fight Radicals?  Your body automatically generates some antioxidants in the form of certain enzymes.  Exercise helps this process due to higher consumption of oxygen during exercise.  You can also acquire them through certain foods or supplements.  The data is not conclusive but it is thought by many nutritionists and doctors that antioxidants have a role in slowing down the aging process, preventing heart disease, and preventing strokes.  Less evidence exists that they help prevent cancer.

The principal antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin, E, and beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A.   Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin present in citrus fruits and juices, green peppers, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, kale, cantaloupe, kiwi, and strawberries.  The U.S. RDA is for 60 mg per day although nearly everyone agree that amounts up to 2000 mg are likely better.   Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin present in nuts, seeds, vegetable and fish oils, whole grains, and apricots.  The RDA is 15 IU for men and 12 IU for women.  Beta-carotene is present in liver, egg yolks, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomatoes, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains.  The is no RDA but since it turns into vitamin A, excessive levels can become toxic.  Other notable products with antioxidant properties are alpha lipoic acid (ALA), astaxanthin, melatonin and Co-enzyme Q (CoQ10).

Although many persons may take nutritional supplements to increase antioxidants and decrease radicals in their bodies, these are not a substitute to consuming good foods.  Those that eat lots of fruit and vegetables appear to have a lower risk of  cancer  and heart disease., although that may be other components of these foods, such as fiber, according to researchers.

In summary, while there is not absolute proof that consuming antioxidants prevents disease, there is definite evidence that free radicals do damage to many parts of the human body.  As usual, your diet seems to play the most important role, along with exercise. A number of berries and other “superfoods” should be examined for their potential impact too.  Supplements such a vitamins C & E, selenium, melatonin, and beta-carotene may also be an excellent choice, although there is less proof of their value.

Don’t miss this nutrition opportunity to slow down your aging.

What is good for Eye Health?

Today’s health and nutritional topic strikes close to home for me.  About the same time as being diagnosed a type 2 diabetic, I also discovered that I had early cataracts in my eyes, especially in the left one.  Since that diagnosis, my left eye has worsened noticeably to the point of considering surgery.

Becoming interested in nutritional health, I have discovered the good news that good eye health can be maintained through specific nutritional supplementation.   As is true for other nutritional issues, establishing a good diet with plenty of vegetables and fruits is the first step in addressing eye care.  There are particular nutrients that have a notable impact on your eyes: vitamin E, astaxanthin, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, and anthocyanosides.

Let’s look at four of these.

Astaxanthin

From what I can tell, Astaxanthin may be a miracle antioxidant.  It is more powerful than beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene and may actually be up to 100 times stronger than vitamin E!  Astaxanthin studies have shown that it can help prevent or treat: various cancers, diabetes, obesity, chronic inflammatory diseases, gastrointestinal conditions, male infertility, and diseases of the liver, skin, nervous system, eyes and heart.  For our discussion today, I am concentrating on the aide to your eyes.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun produces cumulative oxidative damage to our eyes that can result in cataracts, inflammation, vision problems, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Astaxanthin has been shown to help improve visual acuity, perhaps by strengthening the intraocular muscles. Additionally, since the macula of the eyes have high concentrations of carotenoids, and since evidence links oxidative damage to AMD, researchers have conducted studies that confirmed that persons taking astaxanthin, zeaxanthin, and lutein have improved acuity, sensitivity, and visual function.

Many sea foods such as salmon are rich with astaxanthin.  Supplements are also available in 4-12 mg daily doses.  You can find them at any health food store or vitamin retailers.  I have just recently taking a 5mg tablet each day.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

We all remember our mother’s admonition that we should eat carrots to have good eyesight.  That was because many vegetables (mostly yellow, orange, and red) have high amounts of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that keep your eyes healthy.   Studies indicate that together they may fight off age-related macular degeneration (AMD) — an eye condition where the light sensing cells in the central portion of the retina, known as macula, start to malfunction and over time cease to work. It is the main cause of blindness in the United States for people over 50 years of age.

Lutein and zeaxanthin may help by rebuilding macular pigment receptors and providing high antioxidant protection.  Researchers believe that there is a biological process in the eye that converts lutein into the high quality antioxidant mesozeanthin.

Load up on lutein and zeaxanthin by eating foods that are high in carotenoids and other antioxidants and take a multivitamin that contains clinical doses of lutein and zeaxanthin.  Look for labeling in milligram (mg) dosages. I already have been taking a quality multivitamin and now eat more carrots than ever before.

Bilberry

Studies have shown that foods containing anthocyanosides help protect the retina of the eye by strengthening the bloods vessels and reducing inflammation within the eye. Many problems in the retina start with inflamed, leaky capillaries. Fluid seeps out of capillaries and damages cells in the retina. In fact, retinal damage, including macular degeneration, is the most common causes of blindness in older people.

There are several fruits that contain lots of anthocyanosides.  The best known fruit in America is the common blueberry.  But its British cousin, the Bilberry may be a stronger alternative.  Bilberry extract has been shown to help stop retinal damage caused by diabetes or high blood pressure, improve night vision and may inhibit or reverse cataracts and glaucoma.

While I am eating more blueberries these days, a 1000mg Bilberry extract tablet each day is now part of my routine.

Matcha Green Tea Powder Benefits

If you are a tea enthusiast, then there is no doubt you have come across several brands of powdered tea from different parts of the world. Matcha is a high quality green tea powder, usually from Japan, used for drinking as a beverage or an important ingredient in various recipes. Even though there are other green tea varieties produced across the globe, this premium tea is unique. It is the center of the Japanese way of tea and has been celebrated in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony for centuries.

What Does Matcha Tea Taste Like?

Matcha is crafted from a unique blend of ingredients to give it a taste that is often described as earthy. Chlorophyll, as well as amino acids add to this unique rich astringent taste, followed by a lingering sweetness. The tea is made in the traditional Japanese style. All you have to do to do is add the matcha green tea powder to a cup of warm water and sweeten if desired. For those who want to experience the bitter taste of real Japanese tea, sugar is not necessary.

What Are the Matcha Green Tea Powder Benefits?

Matcha green tea is not only popular throughout the globe for its rich astringent taste followed by lingering sweetness or the fact that it’s unique to Japan but because it has quite a number of health benefits to tea enthusiasts. Some of these benefits are mentioned as follows;

All Day Energy with Improved Concentration

Matcha green tea provides four to six hours of mild steady energy. This is because it acts as both a stimulant as well as a relaxant. These two effects are ideal for concentrating on your day-to-day tasks.

Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Weight Loss

Studies have discovered that drinking this particular green tea can boost thermogenesis (speed up your metabolism) from a normal 8% -10% of daily energy expenditure to between 35% and 43%. Thermogenesis, in Layman’s terms, refers to the body’s own rate of breaking down calories.

Matcha Contains Various Bio-Active Compounds that Can Improve Health

Matcha is more than just a green tea. Regular tea does not contain these compounds because many of the compounds in the tea leaves do not make it into the final drink. These compounds are rich in certain important nutrients. Matcha is packed with polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants. These substances can stop the formation of free radicals in the body thereby protecting body cells from damage. These free radicals slow down aging and eliminate various ailments from the body. Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG) is an example of the powerful compounds contained in the green tea. This compound has been discovered to treat various ailments and may be one of the main reasons Matcha has such powerful medicinal properties.

Improved Skin Health

Researchers have found out that Matcha Green Tea helps protect the skin from dangerous UV rays, while improving blood flow and oxygen levels. This improves the skin’s overall quality. Those who consume this tea regularly have reported improved skin tone and texture as well as healing from various skin diseases such as acne and hives.

Matcha Green Tea Improves Muscle Endurance

Everyone these days is more aware of physical fitness and the effect it can have on maintaining health. But did you know that Matcha can boost your endurance when training? Researchers in Japan recently discovered that regularly drinking matcha green tea extract can boost endurance exercise performance by up to 24%. Taking one cup a day can add a little boost to muscle endurance but taking 4 cups a day can have an amazing impact. So the more cups you drink, the greater impact you get.

This Great Green Tea Extract also keeps Teeth Healthy and Prevents Tooth Decay. Green tea promotes healthy teeth and prevents tooth decay in 2 ways.

1) It creates an unfavorable environment in the mouth for bacteria, thus preventing them from thriving.

2) It prevents acid production in the gums which normally occurs after drinking sugary drinks or beverages. The manner in which it achieves this is through neutralizing the acidity of the saliva. Acid can erode teeth and cause cavities. In fact, this is one of the greatest matcha green tea powder benefits that one should never overlook.

Matcha Green Tea Has Great Detoxifying Properties

Tea comes from leaves, which derive their color from chlorophyll. This substance helps get rid of unwanted metals and toxins from the body. Unlike regular tea where the leaves are disposed of once the tea is made, matcha is prepared from the powder which is consumed along with the tea. Drinking this stimulant, which is rich in chlorophyll highly promotes detoxification. Chlorophyll also helps balance pH levels in the blood. The matcha green tea powder benefits are simply amazing.

Matcha Green Tea Side Effects

Even the healthiest foods may not be right for everyone. And the best way to evaluate the value and helpfulness of a product after considering the benefits is considering how serious its side effects might be. Products that have only minor side effects such as Matcha need to be considered valuable and helpful whereas those whose side effects are serious need to be considered dangerous and unsuitable for human consumption.

As it has been mentioned above, the downsides of Matcha green tea are minor, they are just some slight discomforts as follows; restlessness, frequent urination and perhaps sleeping problems after drinking a cup or two. However, these symptoms are also similar to those who enjoy coffee and other teas. And there is no doubt that when it comes to a super food for our health, matcha green tea is highly rated.