5 Nutrients That Promote Optimal Heart Health (Some May Shock You)*
The general guidelines for promoting heart health can be kind of vague. Yes, exercising often and eating a well-balanced diet help to support whole-body health, but how can we dive a little deeper to ensure we're really, truly supporting our heart?
It turns out there are some key nutrients that promote cardiovascular health in both targeted and myriad ways (and some of them may surprise you).*
OK, OK—so this particular group of nutrients and its comprehensive heart-health benefits don't exactly come as a shock (omega-3s are acclaimed supporters of the cardiovascular system, after all). But these fatty acids are majorly underconsumed by Americans and deserve our attention regardless—they're true powerhouses when it comes to supporting a healthy heart.
Omega-3s help to bolster vascular function and promote healthy blood pressure levels. In fact, high doses of marine omega-3s (i.e., at least 800 milligrams of EPA + DHA per serving) from fish oil supplements are linked to positive cardiovascular health outcomes.
Additionally, omega-3s help to promote healthy triglyceride levels and heart rate, both of which contribute to their overall cardioprotective effects. In other words, if you're looking for nutrients to promote a healthy heart, you may want to start with a high-quality omega-3 supplement (our favorite picks here).
Now we can get into the surprising nutrients! Folate, aka vitamin B9, helps promote cardiovascular health in a very behind-the-scenes way. It's crucial for keeping homocysteine levels in balance, which is no problem for those with healthy methylation cycles.*
What's methylation, you ask? And what does it have to do with the heart? Well, methylation is a vital biochemical process that involves the transfer of methyl groups to and from various bioactive compounds in the body.
The methylated (aka bioactive) form of folate, 5-MTHF, is utilized for various functions throughout the body—including keeping homocysteine levels in check (i.e., by moving it along in the methionine cycle, for all you biochemistry lovers). Normal homocysteine levels are associated with healthy heart function, which is why folate (and the form of folate found in supplements: folic acid, particularly when it's in its active form 5-MTHF) is so helpful in promoting cardiovascular health, among a number of other areas of health.*
Vitamin C helps support heart health in various ways thanks to its potent antioxidant properties that help the essential vitamin quelch free radicals and combat oxidative stress.*
In addition to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, vitamin C supports endothelial function, vascular integrity, blood vessel health, and even promotes healthy blood pressure levels—all of which have profound impacts on not only cardiovascular health but longevity as well.* (The skin, joint, mood, and immune function benefits don't hurt, either.)*
If you haven't heard about this incredible phytonutrient before, you're in for a treat! Found in grapes, wine, chocolate, and key botanicals (e.g., Japanese knotweed extract), researchers believe that resveratrol is the secret behind the French Paradox: the juxtaposition of the standard French diet, which is high in saturated fats (*cough cough* butter) and red wine, and the relatively low rates of heart-health concerns among the French population.
The scientific explanation for the French Paradox? Like vitamin C, resveratrol helps regulate healthy blood pressure levels and support vascular and endothelial function.* Additionally, resveratrol has antioxidant properties that inhibit vascular oxidative stress and help maintain a healthy antioxidant balance.*
Although resveratrol is extremely beneficial to our cardiovascular and whole-body health, its bioavailability is limited.* To help boost resveratrol's bioactivity and retention in mbg's ultimate multivitamin+ formula, we've added its buddy phytonutrient, piperine, so the two can work together to promote longevity and overall well-being.*
Lycopene is another awesome longevity-promoting botanical from mbg's comprehensive multi that delivers heart-healthy effects when consumed via food (this phytonutrient is found primarily in tomatoes) and targeted supplementation.* Its cardioprotective actions include promoting healthy levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol, modulating cytokine production, and supporting blood flow, while supplementation specifically has been tied to healthy blood pressure levels.*
Additionally, registered dietitian Jess Cording, M.S., R.D., CDN, previously told mbg that the research supporting lycopene's ability to improve heart-health outcomes for individuals with focused cardiovascular health support needs is vast.* If you're looking to promote your heart health, add some tomatoes to your meals this week to reap the cardiovascular benefits of lycopene.*
There are so many nutrients that help our heart beat at peak performance. Whether you're introducing delicious, heart-healthy foods rich in these five nutrients to your diet or choosing a daily supplement that contains one (or more!), your cardiovascular system will be thanking you for taking such good care of your well-being.*
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.