Each day in your life sees the heart pumping and creating enough energy to drive a single truck some 20 miles. That’s how important the heart is to the human body. To keep it beating happily and healthfully for many more days and years, make sure it gets the right nutrients that it needs.
Read on about 11 of these important nutrients, and know where you can get them from:
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These support the heart by preventing the formation of clots, decreasing inflammation, and helping to keep cholesterol and blood pressure at healthy levels. These omega-3 fatty acids are DHA (docohexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicopentaenoic acid), and can be found in high amounts in salmon and sardines which are caught wild as opposed to being farm-raised. Studies have shown that eating at least 2 or more servings of salmon per week has been associated with a significantly lower risk of developing certain heart diseases.
This nutrient helps to keep homocysteine at healthy levels. An amino acid, homocysteine at over high levels in the bloodstream has been linked to a higher risk of heart diseases, including vascular disease and heart attacks. Folate can be attained from green leafy vegetables like kale, lettuce, and spinach.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
The muscles of the heart contain the highest amount of coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, which is both an energy producer and a natural antioxidant for every cell that makes up our body. Studies have shown that this nutrient lowers blood pressure. It’s commonly found in organ meats, sardines, beef, and soy oil in low amounts, making it a nutrient that might be better off taken as a supplement, instead.
- Monounsaturated fats
Known as the “good” or “healthy” fats, monounsaturated fats or MUFAs can be found in significant amounts in avocados, almonds, olive oil, and pecans. Increasing intake of MUFAs have been linked to a lowering of bad cholesterol or LDLs and an increase in good cholesterol or HDLs in the blood.
Magnesium is a very important nutrient to a human body as every organ needs it to function properly. The heart, especially, requires this nutrient in order to maintain a normal heartbeat and, as recent studies have shown, to reduce high blood pressure. Patients suffering from arrhythmia or an irregular heartbeat is commonly treated with magnesium, which can be found in spinach and walnuts.
- 6. Quercetin
This is a flavonoid derived from plants that can help to prevent blood clotting because of its natural anti-inflammatory properties. Excessive blood clotting can cause blood vessels to become narrow, thereby blocking the flow of blood. This can lead to both an elevated blood pressure and a decrease in blood oxygenation that can be monitored via a pulse oximetry sensor. Usually taken as a dietary supplement, quercetin is also found in its natural form in apples.
- 7. L-Carnitine
Clinical trials have showed results suggesting that L-carnitine can help a patient’s recovery improve when administered immediately after a heart attack. An amino acid derivative that can be found in nearly all types of cells in the body, L-carnitine is vital in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. It can be found in fermented soy foods, avocados, and animal protein.
- 8. Lycopene
Known as an anti-oxidant, lycopene is found in abundance in tomatoes and is in fact the reason why tomatoes are so red. This nutrient has been linked to reducing a person’s risk for heart disease.
Polyphenols are phytochemicals found in abundance in natural plant food sources that contain antioxidant properties. Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are chock-full of this micronutrient, which can help increase our body’s production of nitric oxide. An increase in nitric oxide production lowers blood pressure by making causing relaxation and dilation in blood vessels.
Found in red wine and dark chocolate, reservatrol is linked to a lowering of blood pressure. It does so by enhancing nitric oxide production and preventing blood clotting, which leads to blood vessels becoming dilated, thereby decreasing blood pressure. It is found in the skin of grapes, which gives red wine its color.
- Vitamin K
Responsible for blood clotting, vitamin K helps in regulating blood pressure along with potassium. You can get this nutrient from food sources like green leafy vegetables such as kale and cabbage, and asparagus.
A lot of the nutrients that are good for the heart can be found in foods that are easily accessible. Being young isn’t a guarantee for immunity from heart diseases, so the earlier you start ensuring that you’re getting the nutrients that help your blood-pumping muscle, the lesser your risk for developing heart problems early on.