Your Heart is in Your Hands
FLUSH OUT TOXINS Hyman recommends taking a daily konjac fiber supplement, which will bind with toxins and usher them out of the body. Try: Physician Formulas Glucomannan capsules ($17 for 90 500- milligram capsules; physicianformulas.com).
JUST SAY NO An unsung player in heart health is the gas nitric oxide (NO). “Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood flow to the tissues, and is especially important for people with high blood pressure and/or a family history of heart disease,” says Janet Zand, O.M.D., co-author of Smart Medicine for Healthier Living (Avery) and chief technical officer for Texas-based Neogenis Labs, which researches nitric oxide. The body makes its own NO, but production tapers off as we get older, especially after age 40. Offset the loss, Zand says, by eating more NO-rich foods, which include celery, lettuce, spinach, arugula, endive, beets, leeks, parsley, fennel and cabbage. If you just can’t stomach the green stuff, consider taking a nitricoxide- boosting supplement. Try: Neogenis Neo40 ($60 for 30 fast-melt lozenges; neogenis.com).
TRY CHINESE HERBS “Many of the traditional Chinese formulas are aimed at relaxing the blood vessels,” says David Scrimgeour, L.Ac., C.H., an acupuncturist at Six Persimmons Apothecary in Boulder, Colo. “Some researchers propose that what they’re really doing is improving NO levels.” One formula he likes for helping to lower mildly elevated blood pressure is Gou Teng San, a blend of 12 Chinese herbs; take three 500-milligrams capsules three times daily. Try: Brion Herbs Gou Teng San Gambir formula ($15 for 100 500-milligram capsules; maxnature.com).
MIND YOUR MAGNESIUM If blood pressure is a problem, boost your intake of this mineral, recommends Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of The Magnesium Miracle (Ballantine Books). Magnesium also helps reduce heart palpitations, Dean says, and research has shown it to have cholesterol-lowering effects that compare favorably to statin medications, minus the side effects. Magnesium is found in many foods, including seaweed, deep green leafy vegetables, almonds and lentils, but it’s difficult to get an effective dose through food alone; Dean recommends taking 600 milligrams of magnesium citrate powder daily. Try: Peter Gillham’s Natural Calm Drink Mix ($22 for 8 ounces; organicpharmacy.com).
GO FISH OIL “Whatever cardiovascular mechanism you can think of, fish oil [omega-3 fatty acids] has a positive impact,” says Hudson. “It lowers blood pressure and triglycerides, improves insulin sensitivity, regulates heart rhythm, and reduces clotting and inflammation.” Hudson recommends taking 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams a day for prevention, 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams if you have high triglycerides. Look for a brand that ensures purity. Try: Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega ($28 for 60 softgels; nordicnaturals.com).