Balling up your hand and you’ll get a general idea of the size of your heart. Your small fist-size heart is a strong muscle which works harder than you could imagine.
The normal adult resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. This means your heart is beating between 86,000 and 144,000 times a day and pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood each day. That’s a whole lot of work for your heart to function well.
Hectic and stressful lifestyles with unhealthy dietary patterns, lack of exercises, overweight, alcohol consumption and smoking habit are the risk factors of developing heart health issues. According to a research review on cardiovascular disease epidemiology in Asia, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the world and about half of the cases are estimated to occur in Asia.1
Cardiovascular diseases are usually associated with the build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the blood vessels and eventually lead to blood clots. The blockages in the blood vessels caused hardening and narrowing of the arteries and lead to restricting the passage of blood flow to the heart.
Lifestyle modification is the key to keeping your heart strong and healthy. Supplementation is also another option for prevention and reduces risks of developing heart health issues. In this article, we are putting together 9 heart-healthy supplements backed by science, particularly on how these ingredients benefit your heart.
Beta-glucans are soluble dietary fibres mainly found in whole-grain cereals, such as barley and oat. Vast research findings have proved the consumption of at least 3g of beta-glucan daily helps to reduce the risks of cardiovascular diseases.2 The beneficial effect of beta-glucan on heart health is associated with reduced total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol (aka the ‘bad’ cholesterol), triglycerides and inflammatory status.3,4 There is also study highlighted a balanced diet with a daily supply of barley beta-glucans improved the functioning of the inner lining of blood vessels, thereby lowering the chances of cardiovascular complications.5
The coenzyme Q10 is commonly named as CoQ10 or ubiquinone. It is found in all systems of organs, with the highest concentration present in the heart tissues. As an organic molecule placed in mitochondria (the powerhouse in the cell), CoQ10 serves several roles including cellular energy production, electron transport and acts as an antioxidant to protect against oxidation.6
Statins, the widely used drugs for lowering cholesterol levels have been linked with several adverse effects, including reduced CoQ10 levels in the blood.7 In a study involving coronary artery disease (CAD) patients supplemented with CoQ10 during statins therapy for 12 weeks proved the beneficial effects of CoQ10 in enhancing the antioxidant enzymes activities and lowering inflammation markers.8 Another 2 years study reported that long-term supplementation with CoQ10 in 420 heart failure patients was generally safe and improved heart failure symptoms as well as reduced heart-related death rate.9
In the market, CoQ10 supplement is available in doses ranging from 30mg to 600mg. Although there is no established minimum or maximum effective dose, most of the reported daily doses for maintaining heart health is around 100 to 400mg.10
Lycopene is a red pigment that gives fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, guava, watermelon and papaya the interesting red colour. As a powerful antioxidant, dietary intake of lycopene confers numerous benefits in fighting against ageing-related health issues, including heart disease.
Oxidative stress impairs the endothelial function due to the deposition of plaques on the inner walls of the arteries and eventually increases the risks of developing coronary artery disease. The ability of lycopene supplementation in reducing oxidative damage and inflammation marker in coronary vascular disease patients has been demonstrated in a 30-day clinical trial.11 The same clinical research has also linked lycopene with the decreased oxidized LDL level and the improvement in endothelial function among the patients.
Apart from that, the intake of tomato extract was also shown to be effective in lowering the blood pressure of moderately hypertensive patients who were treated with antihypertensive drugs.12
Psyllium is a type of natural soluble fibre derived from the husk of psyllium seed. Soluble fibre possesses the ability to absorb water in the intestine and form a high viscosity gel which consists of bile acid that cannot be absorbed by the small intestine and subsequently lost it to the stool. The liver will react by producing more bile acid to aid digestion and eventually lead to the usage of cholesterol (cholesterol is one of the components in bile) in the blood. The outcome of this process is a drop in total cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol in the blood.13
The efficacy of psyllium husk fibre in reducing cholesterol levels has been documented in several human studies. These studies have shown that incorporating psyllium fibre in the diet or the form of supplementation was able to reduce total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in adults suffering from high cholesterol levels and those who are at high-risk groups such as the overweight and obese individuals as well as menopausal women.14-16
Ginkgo biloba is a tree native to China and has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. The active constitutes extracted from ginkgo biloba such as flavonoids, terpene lactones and ginkgolic acids play a key role in increasing blood flow, prevent blood clots and reduce blood lipids through the mechanisms of antioxidation and prevent platelet aggregation.17
A 2-weeks study found that supplementation of ginkgo biloba improved the blood flow of patients suffering from coronary artery disease by increasing the production of nitric oxide which helps to dilate the blood vessels for blood circulation and lowers blood pressure.18 Ginkgo biloba extract was also found to minimize lipid peroxidation, reduce the formation and size of plaque in high-risk cardiovascular patients.19
Panax ginseng, the traditional medicinal plant is one of the most valuable herbs that has been used for millennia in China, Korea and Japan. Ginseng is known as a potent natural remedy due to the presence of its primary active component, ginsenoside which is believed to contribute in anti-inflammation, antioxidation, anti-ageing and anti-viral properties.20
Both human and animal studies demonstrated the ability of ginseng in reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.21,22 The improvement in lipid profile was linked with the increased antioxidant enzyme activity in subjects supplemented with ginseng. Besides, the anti-inflammatory effect of ginsenoside was also shown to play a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis by reducing the plaque formation in blood vessels, thereby improving the endothelial function.23,24
Cordyceps is a well-known Traditional Chinese Medicine, commonly named as “winter-worm summer-grass” by Chinese. It is a fungus inhabits on the surface of insects pupae in winters and forms the fruiting body in the summers.25 Cordycepin is one of the most vital bioactive components in cordyceps. It has been known for various therapeutic potentials such as reducing lipid levels.
Promising results of cordycepin on lowering cholesterol levels were found in 2 animal studies whereby administration of cordycepin was able to reduce total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in testing subjects.26,27 The possible mechanism behind may be due to the ability of cordycepin that activating an enzyme that leads to decline in fatty acids in the body.28
- Ohira T, Iso H. Cardiovascular disease epidemiology in Asia. Circulation Journal. 2013;77:1646-1652.
- Othman RA, Moghadasian MH, Jones P. Cholesterol-lowering effects of oat β-glucan. Nutrition Reviews. 2011;69(6):299-309.
- Talati R, Baker WL, Pabilonia MS, White CM, Coleman CI. The effects of barley-derived soluble fiber on serum lipids. Annals of Family Medicine. 2009;7(2):157-163.
- Wu JR, Leu HB, Yin WH, Tseng WK, Wu YW, Lin TH, et al. The benefit of secondary prevention with oat fiber in reducing future cardiovascular event among CAD patients after coronary intervention. Scientific Reports. 2019;9:3091.
- Cosola C, De Angelis M, Rocchetti MT, Montemurno E, Maranzano V, Dalfino G, et al. Beta-glucans supplementation associates with reduction in p-cresyl sulphate levels and improved endothelial vascular reactivity in healthy individuals. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(1):e0169635.
- Zozina VI, Covantev S, Goroshko OA, Krasnykh LM, Kukes VG. Coenzyme Q10 in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases current state of the problem. Current Cardiology Reviews. 2018; 14:164-174.
- Rundek T, Naini A, Sacco R, Coates K, DiMauro S. Atorvastatin decreases the coenzyme Q10 level in the blood of patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Arch Neurol. 2004;61:889-892.
- Lee BJ, Tseng YF, Yen CH, Lin PT. Effect of coenzyme Q10 supplementation (300mg/day) on antioxidation and anti-inflammation in coronary artery disease patients during statins therapy: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 2013;12:142.
- Mortensen SA, Rosenfeldt F, Kumar A, Dolliner P, Filipiak KJ, Pella D, et al. The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial. JACC Heart Fail. 2014;2(6):641-649.
- Raizner AE. Coenzyme Q10. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 2019;15(3):185-191.
- Petyaev IM, Dovgalevsky PY, Klochkov VA, Chalyk NE, Pristensky DV, Chernyshova MP, et al. Effect of lycopene supplementation on cardiovascular parameters and markers of inflammation and oxidation in patients with coronary vascular disease. Food Sci. Nutr. 2018;6:1770-1777.
- Paran E, Novack V, Engelhard YN, Hazan-Halevy I. The effect of natural antioxidants from tomato extract in treated but uncontrolled hypertensive patients. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2009;23(2):145-151.
- Lambeau KV, McRorie JW. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: how to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 2017;29:216-233.
- Anderson JW, Davidson MH, Blonde L, Brown WV, Howard WJ, Ginsberg H. Long-term cholesterol-lowering effects of psyllium as an adjunct to diet therapy in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:1433-1438.
- Ganji V, Kuo J. Serum lipid responses to psyllium fiber: differences between pre- and post-menopausal, hypercholesterolemic women. Nutrition Journal. 2008;7(22): doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-22
- Pal S, Khossousi A, Binns C, Dhaliwal S, Ellis V. The effect of a fiber supplement compared to a healthy diet on body composition, lipids, glucose, insulin and other metabolic syndrome risk factors in overweight and obese individuals. British Journal of Nutrition. 2011;105:90-100.
- Cho HJ, Nam KS. Inhibitory effect of ginkgolide B on platelet aggregartion in a cAMP-and cGMP-dependent manner by activated MMP-9. Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 2007;40(5):678-683.
- Wu YZ, Li SQ, Zu XG, Du J, Wang FF. Ginkgo biloba extract improves coronary artery circulation in patients with coronary artery disease: contribution of plasma nitric oxide and endothelin-1. Phytother Res. 2008;22(6):734-739.
- Rodriguez M, Ringstad L, Schafer P, Just S, Hofer HW, Malmsten M, et al. Reduction of atherosclerotic nanoplaque formation and size by ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) in cardiovascular high-risk patients. Atherosclerosis. 2007;192(2):438-444.
- Xu ML, Kim HJ, Choi YR, Kim HJ. Intake of korean red ginseng extract and saponin enhances the protection conferred by vaccination with inactivated influenza A virus. Journal of Ginseng Research. 2012;36(4):396-402.
- Ko CN, Park SU, Chang GT, Jung WS, Moon SK, Park JM, et al. Antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects of the mixture of ginseng radix and crataegi fructus: experimental study and preliminary clinical results. Ginseng Res. 2011;35(2):162-169.
- Kim JY, Park JY, Kang HJ, Kim OY, Lee JH. Beneficial effects of Korean red ginseng on lymphocyte DNA damage, antioxidant enzyme activity, and LDL oxidation in healthy participants: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition Journal. 2012;11:47.
- Im EJ, Yayeh T, Park SJ, Kim SH, Goo YK, Hong SB, et al. Antiatherosclerotic effect of Korean red ginseng extract involves regulator of g-protein signalling 5. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014; 985174: https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/985174
- Kho MC, Lee YJ, Park JH, Kim HY, Yoon JJ, Ahn YM. Fermented red ginseng potentiates improvement of metabolic dysfunction in metabolic syndrome rat models. Nutrients. 2016;8(369): doi:10.3390/nu8060369
- Tuli HS, Sandhu SS. Pharmacological and therapeutic potential of cordyceps with special reference to cordycepin. Biotech. 2014;4(1):1-12.
- Guo P, Kai Q, Gao J, Lian ZQ, Wu CM, Wu CA, et al. Cordycepin prevents hyperlipidemia in hamsters fed a high-fat diet via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase. J Pharmacol Sci. 2010;113(4):395-403.
- Gao J, Lian ZQ, Zhu P, Zhu HB. Lipid-lowering effect of cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosine) from cordyceps militaris on hyperlipidemic hamsters and rats. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2011;46(6):669-676.
- Wu CM, Guo YS, Su Y, Zhang X, Luan H, Zhang XP, et al. Cordycepin activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) via interaction with γ1 submit. J Cell Mol Med. 2014;18(2):293-304.