Supplements, Lifestyle Choices, and Dietary Tips for Optimal Heart Health

We’re here to talk about all things heart related this Valentine’s Day. We’ve shared a gift guide and libido boosting products that are likely to help you capture a loved one’s heart, but now it’s time to talk about your heart. Many a love song says that a broken heart can kill you, and pining for someone does indeed have profound physiological effects. While we can’t offer a cure for a broken heart, other than time and a remedy like Liddell’s Homeopathic spray for Loneliness & Sadness, we can affect our physical, beating heart’s health over time. Your life depends on it! Heart disease remains one of the deadliest killers in the U.S. The empowering kicker here is that most cardiovascular diseases and related deaths are preventable with a few key lifestyle commitments. You’ve likely heard that exercise and eating well are crucial to heart health, but there’s so much more we all can and should do to maintain a healthy heart.

Love songs may associate the heart with our sensitive side, but the organ itself is a workhorse! Throughout an average human lifetime, the heart will push millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body, carrying life-giving oxygen, fuel, hormones, and more. A healthy heart is vital to a healthy life, and when our hearts stop, almost all other essential functions fail. Heart attacks, high levels of LDL (a common and potentially harmful type of cholesterol when out of balance), and high blood pressure are all incredibly common. While there are medications for cholesterol and blood pressure, these tend to treat the symptoms and often have side effects. To maintain a healthy heart and prevent life-threatening cardiovascular issues, it’s important to address root causes and tackle dietary, lifestyle, and other preventative measures. There are also many all-natural treatments for existing heart issues.

Read on for supplements, tips and more to keep your heart functioning at its healthiest.

All natural supplements

Magnesium ~ Not only will magnesium help you feel calmer and ease muscle tension, but it’s also helpful for heart rhythm. As this Life Extension article on magnesium discusses there are clinical studies showing that you are more likely to succumb to cardiovascular disease if your magnesium levels are low. Magnesium is one of our most popular supplements and we carry it in tabs, caps, liquids, and Natural Calm powders

Hawthorn Berry ~ Try this wondrous all-natural herb, which Chaucer himself praised for its medicinal prowess. It’s been in use in both the East and West for millennia. As a treatment for heart and cardiovascular conditions, it has been recorded for use since the 17th century. Doctors in Europe, both homeopathic and allopathic, have used the herb to treat various heart ailments from the late 19th century. We carry hawthorn berry as an organic supplement in a capsule from Oregon’s Wild Harvest or Solaray as well as a tincture from Herbalist & Alchemist. We also carry Traditional Medicinals yummy Hawthorn Hibiscus tea.

COQ10 ~ Even your doctor may recommend COQ10 for heart health.  For those with a family history of heart disease, recovering from heart surgery or taking a statin drug for cholesterol, COQ10 has been shown to help with heart support and recovery. We offer COQ10 in softgels or combined with Omega-3 fish oils. 

All things fat!

Fat has gotten a bad reputation, but there are good fats, and our bodies really need them. These are the unsaturated fat and include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. When eaten in moderation, both mono- and polyunsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats!

Omega 3s ~ Omega 3s have generated a lot of buzz, and with good reason. These unsaturated fatty acids are essential for heart health and are found naturally in many foods such as fish and nuts. This is yet another reason those who follow a Mediterranean diet rich in Omega-3s tend to have healthier hearts. Why exactly do they work? Our bodies are made up of approximately 37 trillion cells, and each one of them contains omega-3 fatty acids needed to stay at a baseline of health and functionality. However, our bodies can’t produce the essential fats needed to create these important omega-3 fatty acids on their own. Cold-water fish, flaxseed, and supplements can help us to get the EPA and DHA we need for optimal cellular health. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Both mono- and polyunsaturated fats, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Omega-3s are are also supportive of memory, mood and help reduce inflammation.

We’re big fans of Nordic Naturals and their array of Ultimate Omega, Ultimate 2X & Ultimate Omega with CoQ10, which are 20% off through February! This link gives some info on recommended amounts for heart health

Monounsaturated fats ~ If you’re diving deeper into heart-healthy foods, look for those laden with monounsaturated fats. These “good fats,” will help nourish your heart. You can find these in avocados, olive oil, pecans, walnuts, and almonds. For example, studies have also shown that people who ate an avocado every day for a week reduced their LDL (‘bad cholesterol’) and triglyceride levels, which are associated with heart disease, by an average of 17 percent. These same studies showed that at the same time, HDL (‘good cholesterol’) levels increased.

Lifestyle changes

Exercise! ~ This is perhaps one of the best things you can do for your heart on so many levels. Cardio is essential “maintenance” for your heart, and helps improve cholesterol by raising the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, aka the “good” cholesterol. At Rebecca’s, we’re passionate about a holistic lifestyle. This includes eating well, exercising, and all the interconnected factors that are critical for our health. Any exercise is helpful, and we are also big proponents of yoga. If you’re looking to get started with yoga, we carry excellent mats by Jade (much beloved for their “stickiness”) and Gaiam. Bill, our store Co-Manager, practices Brazilian Jujitsu (he’s a brown belt), is Onnit certified in their unconventional fitness tools including steel mace and is MovNat Level 1 Certified. He is always happy to share his knowledge with you when you are in shopping!  

What to eat

Key foods for heart health ~ A few simple dietary changes can have major effects on our hearts. Heart-healthy foods include fish (Omega-3s!), legumes, whole grains, almonds and other nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, berries, and so much more. We carry just about everything on this list of essential heart-healthy foods and hear from many that our bulk seeds and nuts are some of freshest and the best tasting in Charlottesville. Buying in bulk is also more cost-effective, and you can make your own heart-healthy mixes by combining your favorite nuts, seeds, and fruits.

As always, if you have any questions about heart health, we’re happy to talk with you at Rebecca’s Natural Food!

Photo by Matthew LeJune on