Public health messaging became mission critical last year as the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world. The fight has not been won yet but there are important lessons that we should all carry into 2021 and beyond. Making sure our heart health is suitably robust is of paramount importance. COVID-19 had lethal repercussions for those with heart conditions, for example.
Diet offers the clearest path to achieving a healthy heart and research recommends adding certain supplements to your protective arsenal.
Here are three natural supplements that rival drug treatments:
Berberine is a bioactive substance extracted from certain plants that produces blood sugar-lowering effects.
High blood sugar levels are a constant threat associated with type 2 diabetes – a precursor to heart problems.
Studies show that taking berberine can lower blood sugar levels to a similar extent as the popular diabetes drug metformin.
What’s more, in a study in 116 people with type 2 diabetes, the substance reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 20 percent and HbA1c by 12 percent.
Fasting blood sugar is a test that involves refraining from eating or drinking any liquids other than water for eight hours and HbA1c is your average blood glucose (sugar) levels for the last two to three months.
These effects are thought to be due to numerous mechanisms.
In particular, berberine is believed to reduce glucose production in your liver and improve insulin sensitivity.
Red yeast rice
Red yeast is a fermented rice that has been shown to improve cholesterol levels – another marker of heart disease.
Research investigating its efficacy notes it contains small amounts of monacolin K, which is the active ingredient in the statin drug Lovastatin.
Statin drugs inhibit the production of cholesterol in your liver, leading to significantly reduced blood cholesterol levels.
According to a review of 93 studies, red yeast rice lowered total cholesterol by 34 mg/dL on average, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 28 mg/dL, and triglycerides by 35 mg/dL. Plus, it increased HDL (good) cholesterol by 6 mg/dL.
LDL cholesterol can clog up your arteries, thereby raising your risk of heart disease, whereas HDL counters this harmful process.
What’s more, in a study of 5,000 people in China who had experienced heart attacks, red yeast rice reduced the risk of subsequent heart attacks by 45 percent and the risk of dying during the study period by 33 percent.
Garlic is a staple of many cuisines but the popular ingredient also provides medicinal benefits.
According to research, the main effects of garlic are due to one of its active compounds, allicin, which is highly beneficial for heart health.
Studies show that garlic can lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol by 10–15 percent, on average.
Even more importantly, aged garlic extract can significantly lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and early death, research suggests.
In people with elevated levels, garlic can lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading) by 8.4 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by 7.3 mm Hg, on average.
Systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure are the two numbers used to record blood pressure.