Nutrition Expert Editorial Team June 27, 2017

If you have a strong family history of heart problems, don't despair. According to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, you can still overcome a bad roll o the genetic dice.

Data from over 55,600 people showed that those with a high genetic risk of heart attack halved their chance of actually experiencing one if they followed a healthy diet and lifestyle compared with those who made less favourable choices.

This is not too surprising. Almost one in three heart attacks are linked with eating an unhealthy diet, and an unhealthy lifestyle accounts for many of the others.

Most people know the usual advice but we’ve put together five lesser known ways to help you maximise your chance of a long and healthy lifespan.


1. Favour fish

Fish is often thought of as brain food, but it has beneficial effects for the heart too. The omega 3 fish oils contained, which are called DHA and EPA, have a protective effect against abnormal heart rhythms, especially in heart muscle receiving a poor blood supply. If you don’t like eating fish, omega 3 supplements are a good alternative.

2. Go For garlic

Garlic reduces cholesterol production in the liver and discourages hardening and furring up of the arteries which is something you definitely want to avoid. Garlic also has a positive effect on our arteries, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Data from 20 clinical trials involving almost a thousand people shows that garlic supplements reduce blood pressure.

3. Consider co-enzyme Q10

Co-enzyme Q10 is needed for energy production in cells – especially heart muscle cells that are constantly contracting.

You should be particularly careful when taking statin drugs. Though they lower cholesterol levels they also halve circulating levels of co-enzyme Q10 within 4 weeks. Taking co-enzyme Q10 supplements therefore helps to maintain blood levels of this important muscle nutrient without affecting the cholesterol-lowering action of the statin.

4. Plump for Plant Sterols

Plant sterols rather helpfully reduce the absorption of dietary cholesterol. By making sure your diet is rich in sterols you could lower your levels of a particularly harmful type of cholesterol known as LDL by up to 15 per cent. The benefits are even greater for people with type 2 diabetes, in whom LDL-cholesterol levels have been lowered by over 26 per cent.

Plant sterols can be used together with a statin to further reduce cholesterol levels and is more effective than doubling the statin dose.

5. Don’t Forget Vitamin D3

Vitamin D also helps to regulate calcium and improves blood pressure control. Research from 19 studies, involving almost 66,000 people showed that people with the lowest vitamin D levels were 52 per cent more likely to have heart problems than those with the highest blood levels.

Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.

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