Take This To Heart: Nutrients For A Healthy Ticker

For many reasons, omega health is closely tied to the fitness of the heart. Besides being important to the health of our cell walls and the viscosity of our blood, omegas play some surprising roles when it comes to heart health. Here are some of the latest studies:

Fish oil protects against air pollution

Airborne fine particles smaller than the diameter of a hair, from cars, fires, construction sites, and unpaved roads, can enter the lungs and bloodstream with adverse health effects. In this study, 65 healthy Shanghai, China college students took a placebo or 2,500 mg of EPA- and DHA-rich fish oil capsules per day. During the five-month study, campus levels of airborne fine particles no larger than 2.5 micrometers averaged 38 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), significantly higher than the 35.4 µg/m3 level governments consider unhealthy.

Doctors measured blood pressure, systemic inflammation, blood vessel flexibility, oxidative and antioxidant activity, and other heart and metabolic factors. Compared to placebo, those taking EPA/DHA maintained stable levels of most of these biomarkers, with beneficial effects on inflammation, coagulation, blood vessel function, oxidative stress levels, and hormonal responses.

Reference: Journal of the American College of Cardiology; 2019, Vol. 73, No. 16, 2076-85

Plant-Based Fats for the Heart

This long-term study followed 93,378 men and women who filled out detailed food questionnaires every four years. After an average follow-up period of 22 years, doctors found those who consumed the most plant-based mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) from olive oil, nuts, and seeds were 16 percent less likely to have died from any cause compared to those who got the least, while those who got the most MUFAs from animal sources were 21 percent more likely. The results take into account differences in ethnicity, family health history, diet, lifestyle, physical activity, and body mass index scores.

Reference: American Heart Association Meeting Report—Session MP07, 2018

Omega-3s reduced artery calcification

The inside of an artery can narrow, without symptoms, due to plaque building up with age. Few studies have tested the effect of omega-3s on arterial calcification in the general population. In this study, doctors measured calcification of the aorta—the largest artery in the body that extends from the heart to the abdomen—in 998 asymptomatic multiethnic men, ages 40 to 49.

Using a low-dose, multi-angle X-ray CT scan, doctors found 57 percent of the men had some level of aortic calcification. Doctors also found as circulating levels of omega-3s increased, aortic calcification decreased. The omega-3 DHA was particularly beneficial, with each two-percent increase in DHA levels reducing aortic calcification scores by 35 percent.

Discussing the findings, doctors said omega-3s reduced aortic calcification independent of any other factors that increase chances for heart or circulatory events, and that these findings are significant for public health policy.

Reference: Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases; April, 2019, Published Online

And don’t forget the role vitamin K can play in the health of your cardiovascular system (especially K2):

Vitamin K reduced artery stiffness

A type of protein in the body, matrix GLA, binds to calcium, preventing it from building up on arterial walls. But matrix GLA requires vitamin K to become active. In this study, doctors measured levels of inactive matrix GLA—a sign of low vitamin K levels—in 835 Flemish men and women, average age 50.

Those with higher levels of inactive matrix GLA had greater signs of calcification of the aorta, which doctors determined by how much or how little the aorta dilated as blood pumped from the heart. Stiffer vessels dilated less, sending faster pulse waves along vessel walls. Faster pulse wave velocity is a sign of greater arterial calcification.

Doctors also measured blood pressure between systolic and diastolic phases, called central pulse pressure. Typically about 40 mmHg in healthy people, central pulse pressure over 60 mmHg can signal heart and circulatory problems. Those with lower levels of inactive matrix GLA also had lower central pulse pressure readings.

Reference: American Heart Association; April, 2019, Published Online

There’s no way around it. The heart needs loving care. Diet, exercise, and supplements as needed, can make a big difference in your heart health goals.

Article copyright 2019 by Natural Insights for Well Being. Used with permission. All rights reserved.