11 Heart-Friendly Habits

Natural ways to prevent and reverse heart disease.
11 Heart-Friendly Habits
Pin it Courtesy of Shutterstock

If you and your doctor decide you should try supplements, you'll be in good company. A study published in the American Heart Journal found that 64 percent of people with heart disease were using alternative therapies either in addition to or as a substitute for conventional treatments. Naturopath Jennifer Nevels, N.D., chair of the department of women's integrative medicine at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, Ariz., routinely observes supplements boosting the health of her heart disease patients. When asked to share the top five heart-healing supplements in her medicine cabinet, Nevels recommended the following natural options.

1. Fish Oil
Why: If you have heart disease, getting a beneficial dose of omega-3s through diet alone can be tough.
Dosage: 1,500 milligrams twice a day.
Tip: For best results, choose a supplement with two key omega-3s: EPA and DHA. To minimize mercury exposure, look for the phrase tested for heavy metals on the label.

2. Red Yeast Rice
Why: This traditional Chinese remedy works like statin drugs, inhibiting the body's cholesterol-making enzyme.
Dosage: 600 mg twice a day.
Tip: Since it acts like a statin, red yeast rice can cause side effects and is best taken under the guidance of a naturopath or physician.

3. Co-enzyme Q10
Why: The cholesterol-making enzyme that statins inhibit is also responsible for producing the body's natural supply of CoQ10. Every cell needs CoQ10 for energy. Without it, the body loses steam.
Dosage: Up to 300 mg a day.
Tip: CoQ10 relies on fat to help it absorb properly, so choose oil-based capsules over dry tablets.

4. Magnesium
Why: Some experts refer to magnesium as "nature's calcium-channel blocker" because the mineral keeps calcium from penetrating heart cells and making the organ work harder. Magnesium also promotes muscle relaxation and slows blood clotting.
Dosage: Up to 800 mg a day.
Tip: For best absorption, look for magnesium glycinate.

5. Garlic
Why: Antioxidant-rich garlic makes blood platelets more slippery and therefore less likely to form clots that cause heart attack or stroke.
Dosage: Up to 900 mg a day.
Tip: Don't hesitate to experiment with different products. Lunceford didn't get results until she traded in her plain garlic supplements for a blend of aged garlic and red yeast rice. Caveat: Garlic has natural blood-thinning properties; if you're already taking blood thinners, talk to your doctor before using garlic.