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What is Heart?


More people die of heart attacks in the United States than any other disease.

It is but obvious that heart health issues have become more prominent now than ever before, not just in America, but all over the world as heart disease is on the rise. Statistics from Harvard Health Publications state that in America alone:
65 million people have high blood pressure
70 million have had heart attacks
11 million more have some type of cardiovascular disease

While we may be alarmed by these growing statistics, we can take courage in the fact that there are factors within our control which can help support heart and circulatory health.

Controllable factors in our lives include:
Good nutrition
Keeping our weight under control
Regular exercise

Research:
Medical researchers worldwide have published literally thousands of studies that show that by following a healthy regimen, we can assist our body in helping to reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.

There is enough evidence from research to indicate that certain nutrients, more than others, support heart health. Look for these heart health nutrients and include them in your diet, preferably through natural sources:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Omega 3 is probably the most researched nutritional supplement in the world. The astounding health benefits of omega-3 have been studied by some of the most prestigious institutions and their findings have been reported in literally thousands of the world's best peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals.

The two most important omega 3 fatty acids that help support a healthy heart are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Clinical studies show that Omega 3 is involved in the proper functioning of every cell, tissue and organ in the human body.

However, the bulk of the studies have focused on Omega 3s cardio-protective properties. There is strong evidence from several studies that suggests that DHA and EPA in the form of fish or fish oil supplements may assist the body in lowering triglyceride levels, slowing down the buildup of plaque in the arteries, lowering blood pressure slightly, and supporting a healthy heart rhythm.

The American Heart Association (AHA) affirms that Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the hearts of:

Healthy people
Those at high risk of cardiovascular disease
Those who have cardiovascular disease.


According to Dr. Artemis Simopoulos, M.D., who headed the NIH Nutrition Committee for nine years, 90% of Americans do not eat enough omega 3 fatty acids.

The AHA recommends an increase of omega-3 fatty acids in our diet by eating fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon, at least twice a week.Since coronary artery disease patients and people with high triglyceride levels may not be able to get enough omega-3 by diet alone, the AHA, recommends that patients consider taking Omega 3 supplements in consultation with their doctor.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10):
Coenzyme Q10 is present in most human cells. It is a vitamin-like substance which is produced by the human body. In the mitochondria of each human cell, food energy is converted into energy with the aid of CoQ10.

It is interesting to note that 95% of all the human body's energy requirement is converted with the aid of CoQ10. The heart and liver have the highest concentrations of CoQ10. It seems only natural as these organs have the highest energy requirements.

Coenzyme Q10 also acts as an antioxidant, and is used as a dietary supplement. CoQ10 can be found in the heart tissue of fresh mackerel and herring.While the body produces its own CoQ10, levels are reported to decrease with age and to be low in patients with heart disease. Levels of CoQ10 in the body can be increased by taking CoQ10 supplements.

Folic Acid:
Folic Acid is a form of the water-soluble vitamin B9 found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, vegetables and grain products. Evidence suggests that elevated homocysteines may damage blood vessels and cause platelets to accumulate and form clots. Folic acid has been shown to support healthy homocysteine levels.

The Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that an increased intake of folic acid could prevent as many as 50,000 deaths a year. Dietary folic acid and vitamins B-6 and B-12 have the greatest effects on breaking down homocysteine. Supplements should only be used when the diet doesn't provide enough.

Phytosterols:
Phytosterols are cholesterol-like molecules found in all plant foods, with highest concentrations found in vegetable oils especially sea buckthorn oil, corn oil and soybean oil.

As a food ingredient or additive, Phytosterols can reduce cholesterol levels by up to 15% according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition (June 2003). The FDA and the American Heart Association have declared that there is evidence that phytosterols may block the absorption of bad cholesterol in the intestines and therefore prevent it from entering the bloodstream.

Many margarines, butters, breakfast cereals and spreads are now enriched with phytosterols and marketed towards people who want to lower their cholesterol levels.Americans need to consider strengthening their heart health by considering various options open to them. Studying nutritional research on heart health supplements based on legitimate science are effective ways to help support the health of your heart.

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