The Top 9 Evidence-Based Heart-Cardio Optimizers
Moving blood throughout the body, the circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system, comprises 4 parts, the heart, arteries, blood, capillaries, and veins. This system stabilizes body temperature and pH, maintains homeostasis, moves nutrients (such as amino acids and electrolytes), oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells into and out of the cells nourishing and fighting disease, while simultaneously keeping us alive [1–2].
This transport of oxygenated blood from the lungs and heart throughout the body occurs through the arteries. As heart disease remains the number one cause of death, coronary artery disease, heart failure, heart attack, arrhythmia, and other cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and high blood cholesterol levels can damage the cardiovascular system [3–4].
We often overlook the importance of sufficiently effective blood flow to the brain, when considering the mood and cognitive disorders. In studies, we find an improvement in mood and cognition, when individuals experience enhancement in blood circulation [5–8].
When we consider conditions such as fatigue, we need to consider the role circulation function plays. An emerging blanket condition called, “brain fog”, experienced a delay in thinking, forgetfulness or confusion, and concentration deficiency is being increasingly linked to poor blood circulation to the brain [9–12].
We look past the role of the heart and circulatory system in detoxification. And overlooking the action of the lungs and properly oxygenating the body, as we seem to only focus on blood pressure and cholesterol [13–14].
Some will even argue the cardiovascular system is the most important of our 11 systems of the body, with the heart being playing the principal role as the most critical of our 5 major organs. And as the heart and its supporting role players give us life and keep us alive, there is a verifiable truth to this declaration .
Central to heart health, magnesium keeps our heart beating. In fact, this electrical action which serves to prevent a sudden cardiac arrest could be much more important than its role in managing blood pressure and heart disease [22–23].
Containing properties of a natural Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme ACE Inhibitor, Beta Blocker, Calcium Channel Blocker, Diuretic, and Vasodilator, magnesium performs well in studies lowering blood pressure. Some still believe potassium also plays a role in blood pressure regulation and should receive further attention [24–26].
#2 Krill or Vegan Algae Oil
Emerging studies show that omega-3 fatty acids in algae or krill phospholipid form may be superior to fish oil or even cod liver omega-3’s, because of the differences in structural form. This means we can theorize krill or algae oil-based phospholipids have much greater human bioavailability and absorption, as opposed to fish oil in triglyceride form because every cell membrane in our body exists in this same phospholipid form [27–28].
In this phospholipid form, omega-3’s, (DHA and EPA), contain lower risks of heavy metal exposure, and are more shelf-stable than fish oil, allowing for significantly lower dosages. While we need more studies to confirm this, initial studies are very promising [29–30].
While all omega-3’s lower triglycerides, some studies show only phospholipid omega-3’s lower LDL and raise HDL cholesterol levels. Omega-3’s have properties of ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and vasodilators, which allows them to lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure to a meaningful degree [31–32].
Providing human cellular energy, coenzyme Q10, (CoQ10), a “vitamin-like” fat-soluble nutrient, is critical to our health. The second function of CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant activity, which we find strictly in the ubiquinol CoQ10, comprising 90–98% of total CoQ10 in the body [33–35].
The other form of Coq10 is ubiquinone, the oxidized version recycled or reduced into ubiquinol. Through biosynthesis in the body, we can naturally create CoQ10 when we are younger, as supplementation becomes essential when the body can’t produce sufficient levels to protect the heart and the other major body organs [36–39].
Our CoQ10 levels depend on age and genetic factors, as the ability to convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol becomes more difficult after the age of 40. Less natural CoQ10 is thus available because of health conditions and the widespread use of statin drugs [40–42].
Ubiquinol protects LDL from oxidation better than other antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin E, as we know oxidized LDL, known to cause atherosclerosis, poses a more serious threat over standard LDL. For these reasons, many argue ubiquinol is the preferred CoQ10 form because of more activity and bioavailability [43–45].
Studies show besides mitochondria and ATP energy benefits and protection, CoQ10 supplements as effective for lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, all cholesterol markers including HDL but not triglycerides, heart failure, and post-heart attack protection [46–48].
Garlic (Allium sativum) is an ancient plant with a proven reputation for promoting immune and cardiovascular health. We find solid evidence for garlic improving arteriosclerosis, by relaxing stiff blood vessels, and preventing platelet aggregation, as a potent blood thinner [49–51].
Evidence supports the powerful effect of garlic on all cholesterol numbers, including HDL, with only a minor effect of triglycerides. With profound blood pressure lowering effects, garlic acts as an ACE Inhibitor, beta-blocker, calcium channel blocker, diuretic, and vasodilator [52–58].
As high blood pressure is often a primary cause of erectile dysfunction, (ED), we even see garlic increasing nitric oxide levels and effective for non-severe ED cases. Finally, limited evidence exists for supporting male prostate support and lowering the risk of prostate cancer [59–62].
#5 Dietary Fiber
There are two types of dietary fiber; soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are used for weight loss, metabolism, and appetite suppression. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is not digestible by the gut, whereas soluble fiber dissolves in water and is digestible or fermentable in the gut .
Fiber is a powerful and vastly underrated tool in the fight against cardiovascular disease. We need much more fiber intake, as studies show 95% of people barely meet 50% of their actual needs .
Besides proven anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, anti-obesity, and gastrointestinal benefits, dose-dependent soluble fiber intake improves all cholesterol numbers including triglycerides, HDL, and blood sugar levels. Alongside lowering heart-related inflammation, soluble fiber considerably lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure [65–74].
As many forms of fiber are acceptable in all dietary plans, daily fiber intake can be a key target for all seeking heart and health optimization. And lowering the risk of all causes of mortality by 20% via increasing fiber intake appears to have clinical support in one study .
As ginkgo biloba is the most commonly used plant for brain health, our appreciation of this well studied and ancient medicinal antioxidant powerhouse seems to stop right there. Besides improving blood flow to the brain, we find ginkgo biloba powerfully increasing blood circulation and lowering blood clotting throughout the body [76–80].
Operating as a natural ACE inhibitor and vasodilator, ginkgo biloba can substantially lower both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. Ginkgo biloba, much like CoQ10, protects against the oxidation of LDL [81–88].
With the discovery of COVID-19 and the coronavirus, we believe the virus attaches itself to the ACE2 enzyme of our renin-angiotensin-system, (RAS). The RAS controls blood pressure and cardiovascular function in the heart and kidneys, and ginkgo at larger doses might be a plant-based therapeutic [89–91].
Ginkgo biloba, in producing ACE inhibitory properties, serves to protect and strengthen the ACE2 enzyme. Because of this, ginkgo may prove itself as a potent anti-coronavirus compound in future studies and usage [92–94].
As a water-soluble amino acid nutrient comprising two amino acids, lysine, and methionine, we find L-carnitine in all living tissues, including our major organs, most notably our heart. L-carnitine creates energy by moving oxygen and fatty acids to our cells where CoQ10 can convert them into energy [95–96].
By recycling CoQ10, and removing toxic fatty acid waste, L-carnitine keeps our cells loaded with energy and protects against cellular damage and heart inflammation from arteriosclerosis. If we do not clear toxic energy byproduct waste, vasoconstriction (narrowing of the arteries), can take place [97–101].
Providing oxygen to blocked arteries helps keep arteries relaxed, as L-carnitine can help with activity-based crampings, such as walking or running along with even congestive heart failure benefits, arrhythmias, and angina .
The action of L-carnitine as a vasodilator lowers blood pressure by opening blood vessels increasing blood circulation to the heart, muscles, and other tissues throughout your body. Much like ubiquinol, and D-Ribose, we see L-carnitine a popular performance and weight loss supplement [102–105].
Hibiscus is a bright reddish-pink flowering plant consumed with lime as delicious sour-tasting tea. People drink this antioxidant-rich tea for its metabolic and cardiovascular benefits [106–107].
With both natural ACE inhibitor and diuretic properties, hibiscus considerably lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In one study, hibiscus lowered both blood pressure numbers more than the prescription blood pressure medication captopril, and just less than lisinopril [108–111].
While studies typically use hibiscus tea, we see it lowering blood pressure even more in one study using 250 mg anthocyanins extracts. In cholesterol studies, hibiscus proves to lower cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL in certain genetic types [112–113].
D-ribose is a simple natural sugar present in all living cells. As a “pentose sugar”, the body can use this sugar in DNA and RNA production, while preserving energy to power our major organs and all other bodily tissues [114–117].
Research continues proving when we provide D-ribose to energy-deficient hearts and muscles, we stimulate energy recovery. This means ribose improves chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, heart function, and physical athletic performance [118–120].
As a growing nootropic and supplement topic, D-ribose helps make nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), two critically important cellular respiration enzymes involved with aging and cognition. Ribose can be effective in managing an array of cardiovascular problems such as statin-induced myalgia, peripheral vascular disease, heart failure, arrhythmia, angina while delivering essential oxygen to muscle [121–123].
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Niacin (vitamin B3), is an essential B-vitamin. Divided daily doses of 500 mg or more consistently produce a dramatic improvement of HDL, LDL, triglycerides, and total cholesterol in research studies [124–125].
Niacin is so effective in cholesterol or lipid improvement; it influenced the development of a pharmaceutical drug called Niaspan, which is niacin in an extended-release form. Subsequently, many researchers believe we should avoid extended, delayed, or sustained-release niacin forms because of substantial liver toxicity risk [126–129].
While we do not fully understand the action of niacin on blood pressure, study results remain mixed, along with inconsistent results with other cardiovascular conditions such as arteriosclerosis. While niacin possesses a substantially lower risk of elevated homocysteine compared to niacinamide, the flush-free B3 form not carrying the same cardio benefits, niacin can create side effects causing new warnings about increasing insulin levels and decreasing insulin sensitivity in daily doses over 2,000 mg [130–134].
Considered a first-line insomnia supplement, melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle while producing profound gastrointestinal and cardiovascular benefits. Newer studies are showing nocturnal blood pressure is a vastly more important cardiovascular risk indicator than daytime blood pressure [134–135].
Melatonin, which diminishes as age, possesses powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory benefits. This allows melatonin to lower nocturnal blood pressure and clotting substantially while maintaining protection against certain types of heart disease and heart failure [136–137].
Berberine , (cacao, cocoa) , hawthorn , grapeseed , olive leaf extract , resveratrol , taurine, venotropics: (butcher’s broom, diosmin, hesperidin, horse chestnut, pine bark, pycnogenol) , vitamin K: (K1, K2, MK-4, MK-7) .
Acetyl-L-carnitine, agmatine, alpha lipoic acid, apegin, artichoke extract, ashwagandha, astaxanthin, avocado oil, B6, B12, bacopa monnieri, barberry, berries, black seed oil, black tea, CBD, COQ10 (ubiquinone), caffeine, choline, cinnamon, citrus, coconut oil, cod liver oil, coffee, copper, curcumin, cyanidin, DHA, dan shen (red sage), dandelion, EPA, fenugreek, fish oil, flavonoids, folate B9, ginseng, glycine, goji, green tea, greens, gugol, horsetail, indian snakeroot, inositol, iron, Japanese knotweed, juniper, kratom (mitragyna speciosa), L-arginine, L-citrulline, legumes, luteolin, lysine, MCT oil, matcha, Medicinal mushrooms: (chaga, cordyceps, lion’s mane, maitake, reishi, shitake), N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), nitrates, nuts, olive oil, pantethine, pine bark, plant sterols, potassium, prebiotics, probiotics, proline, quercetin, red yeast rice, resveratrol, riboflavin, rice, resveratrol, saffron, seeds, selenium, spirulina, sumac, theobromine, thiamine B2, tea, vinegar, vinpocetine, vitamin A, vitamin B’s, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, white tea.