According to the Center for Disease Control about 610,000 people, or one in every 4 deaths, are attributed to heart disease every year. They also note that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. For many, a heart attack is the first symptom of heart disease, but one in three heart attack victims do not survive their first attack. Prevention through a healthy lifestyle and supplementation is the key in educating consumers.
Age Isn't A Factor In Heart Health
The biggest misconception is heart disease only happens to the elderly. However, according to the American Heart Association it's starting to impact people at an earlier age and is the primary cause of death among all middle-aged Americans. The association indicates heart disease causes more than 160,000 deaths in people between the ages of 35 and 64 each year. In fact, almost 150,000 Americans killed by cardiovascular disease each year are under the age of 65.
Maintaining Healthy Cholesterol Levels is a Balancing Act
It's now understood that targeted nutritional support works very well in tandem with medications to maintain healthier cholesterol levels, along with a healthy diet and exercise program.
While there has been an emphasis on cholesterol reduction in the past 15-20 years, more recent focus has been on additional factors that reduce inflammation and balance blood-sugar and hormone levels.
Consumers are beginning to understand that cholesterol in and of itself is not a bad thing. The body naturally produces cholesterol in the liver to support brain health, as a precursor for hormone production, for Vitamin D synthesis, and as a cell membrane stabilizer. Misconceptions around cholesterol and foods like eggs have largely been discredited. For example, Harvard Medical School published findings that showed for most people only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. Saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.
The benefits of natural fats over hydrogenated trans-fats are surfacing. Couple that with the idea that natural, unprocessed fats are a healthy choice as opposed to highly processed or synthetic trans-fats. A proactive approach now includes incorporating ingredients to promote a healthy balance of the different forms of cholesterol, rather than past emphasis on simply lowering the total and LDL cholesterol levels.
In a sea of information on heart health products, consumers are looking for ingredients and formulas that set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. Some of the long-standing and proven heart healthy ingredients are still widely advocated. Several newcomers stand out as sources for consumers seeking vitamins and supplements to help contribute to optimal heart health.
Lipisterin for Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Your body makes cholesterol, so it’s not a bad thing – it’s a structural component of cell membranes, the body needs it to make hormones, and the brain requires cholesterol. You just want to maintain a healthy cholesterol balance, which is the purpose of Lipisterin.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs)
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are vital components of cell membranes. They are precursors to important chemical messengers that support arterial health by promoting proper blood vessel dilation, promoting flexible cell membranes and supporting vascular function. Increased consumption of Omega-3 EFAs also helps promote normal cholesterol and triglyceride levels and maintain normal blood pressure.
Guggul has demonstrated healthy support of liver function and balanced cholesterol metabolism by supporting healthy HDL levels and blood flow.
Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice contains chemicals such as monacolin K, which promote normal blood LDL cholesterol concentrations without a substantial risk of side effects.
Bromelain supports the metabolism of fats and proteins with natural anticoagulant properties that may help break down the blood-clotting protein fibrin. It also supports a healthy inflammatory response.
Taurine supports the heart and blood pressure by maintaining healthy blood flow in the blood vessel walls. Taurine also promotes healthy nerve impulses in the brain to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
Pancreatin has specific supporting roles for the digestion of proteins and fats and may play a role in the accumulation of plaque in the arteries by helping to convert homocysteine into cystathionine.
CoQ10 supports healthy cardiovascular function by helping produce energy within the mitochondria of cells. Every cell depends on this energy, and this is especially true for the heart. While each muscle cell in the biceps contains 200 mitochondria, every heart cell has 5,000.
Policosanol and Octacosanol
Policosanol and Octacosanol are plant extracts that support healthy fat and cholesterol metabolism.
Vitamin C has been well researched for its value in supporting a healthy cholesterol metabolism in part by protection from LDL oxidation, the most damaging form of cholesterol. Lack of dietary antioxidants may play a key role in unhealthy LDL oxidation, causing collagen used to form blood vessel walls to be weaker, less flexible and more prone to inflammation.
Vitamin B5 supports healthy cholesterol utilization, as well as supporting the metabolism’s ability to maintain a healthy stress response.
We now know heart disease symptoms are also tied to free radical damage, or oxidative stress. When antioxidant levels are lower than those of free radicals due to poor nutrition and other lifestyle factors, oxidation wreaks havoc in the body — damaging cells, breaking down tissue and overloading the immune system.
Antioxidants like Grape Seed Extract, Vitamins A, C and E, and phytonutrients like Turmeric, Green Tea extract and Quercetin help lower the immune system’s overactive response by fighting free radical damage. These antioxidants help dissolve free radicals that can damage cells and tissue, which means fewer triggers for inflammation.
In health and happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian for Healthy Goods