If your heart's health is on your mind, you're probably making a plan for getting in shape and doing what it takes to make your heart and cardiovascular system as healthy as possible.
A healthy heart is accomplished through exercise and proper diet. And proper diet means eating heart healthy foods that provide the best vitamins for your heart.
The Healthy Heart
When your heart is healthy, this well-toned muscle, which is about the size of your fist, serves as an efficient pump. Its two sides and four valves work in concert to supply your body with oxygenated blood. When the arteries are open and clear, and the muscle is strong, the heart works tirelessly while you're resting, exercising, working and playing.
A healthy heart is sustained by regular exercise and by proper diet, including heart healthy vitamins and minerals.
Poor Diet and Your Heart
A poor diet that is high in fat and low in important nutrients can have a negative effect on your heart.
A diet that is high in trans fat and saturated fat can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and clogged arteries. This causes your heart to work much harder, with less efficiency.
When you consume a diet that doesn't include, or is low in, healthy heart vitamins, you run the risk of weakening your heart by making it more susceptible to elevated cholesterol and increased levels of homocysteine, an amino acid which, in high levels, can cause artery damage, a higher risk of stroke, and vascular disease.
Vitamins to Help Your Heart
The best vitamins for your heart are the family of B vitamins. Vitamins B9 (folic acid), B6 and B12 are all helpful when it comes to ridding the blood of excess homocysteine. Vitamin B3 (niacin) helps to reduce cholesterol.
Beyond the B vitamins, vitamins C and E are also helpful to your heart. They are known as antioxidant vitamins and work together to help prevent heart disease and other illnesses. They are also known for bolstering the immune system.
Minerals to Help Your Heart
While heart healthy vitamins are essential to keeping your heart and arteries in great shape, some minerals can also help.
Magnesium is essential for reducing the risk of high blood pressure. And calcium and potassium both work to regulate blood pressure.
Heart Healthy Foods
A healthful diet is the best way to consume minerals and vitamins that are good for your heart.
B vitamins are available from meats, whole grains, low fat milk and dairy products, eggs, legumes and fish. And vitamins C and E can be found in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Calcium is available from low fat dairy products and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, beans and some fish.
Potassium can be found in bananas, raisins, apricots, wheat germ and potatoes (with the skin on). And magnesium is provided by foods like fish, nuts, beans and vegetables.