It’s easy to take heart health for granted. Unless there’s a problem, most people don’t even think of their heart — let alone the arteries. The truth is, to reduce your risk of a stroke, heart failure, or heart attack and achieve your 100 Year Heart, you need to keep your arteries clean. Diet and lifestyle play a critical role in removing existing plaque, and herbs can complement your approach and keep those arteries free and clean.
Herbs that can help keep your arteries clean
Before it was used as a food, garlic was a staple medical ingredient. While it is a tasty culinary herb, it also helps keep your arteries clean. In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, 55 patients, ages 40 to 75 were tracked for one year. The researchers asked some participants to supplement with garlic to discover how garlic could benefit heart disease. They found that those who supplemented with garlic saw an 80 percent reduction in soft plaque in the arteries.
A meta-analysis from The Journal of Nutrition looked at studies from over 50 years. These studies showed that garlic moderately to significantly regulated total cholesterol and reduced oxidized LDL levels. In fact, when taken for over two months, garlic helped regulate serum cholesterol by eight percent in many patients.
Did you know that ginger is a medicinal herb used in preventive cardiology? Ginger has been used medicinally for over 5,000 years to treat many conditions. Recently, the scientific community has taken notice of the positive effects it has on cardiovascular disease, including:
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Antioxidant effects
- Antiplatelet effects
- Hypotensive effects
- Hypolipidemic effects
Ginger has medicinal properties that help reduce plaque in the arteries. An animal study looked at the possible effects of ginger on experimentally-induced hardening of the arteries in rabbits. The results showed a decrease in the thickness of arteries in the ginger-treated group.
Research presented at an American Chemical Society meeting focused on capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne and other chili peppers heat. Researchers found that capsaicin boosts heart health in two ways.
First, it regulates cholesterol levels by reducing buildup, increasing breakdown, and excretion in the feces. Second, it blocks a gene that makes arteries contract, restricting blood flow to the heart and other organs. This allows more blood to flow through blood vessels.
In China, hawthorn has been used to treat cardiovascular disease since 659 AD. Traditionally, hawthorn berries improved high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, heart failure, and hardening of the arteries. Today, however, the flowers and leaves are used since they are believed to contain more flavonoids than the berries.
Antioxidants in hawthorn may help dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and protect blood vessels from damage. Hawthorn also contains the chemical quercetin, which reduces cholesterol. Research in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology found that hawthorn extracts have anti-oxidative, serum lipid-lowering, and cardiovascular protective properties.
Hawthorn continues to gain popularity, especially for its anti-atherosclerotic effects, including:
- Lowering abnormal cholesterol,
- Improving artery health
- Preventing thickening or hardening of the arteries — caused by a buildup of plaque
Reishi is a potent herb with antioxidant properties. It may help normalize cardiac function, support healthy cholesterol levels, and keep your arteries free of plaque. In a controlled two-week study involving 26 people, reishi mushrooms positively impacted cholesterol levels and decreased triglycerides — a harmful type of blood fat.
For over 2,000 years, berberine has been an important part of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Berberine is a compound that comes from several herbal substances. Research in the journal Atherosclerosis suggests that berberine may help the heart in many ways and have a positive impact on cholesterol and triglycerides.
Recently, it has attracted a lot of interest for its use in managing cardiovascular disease. Other research suggests that berberine is one of the most promising herbs for treating cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.
Cardamom comes from the seeds of several different plants that belong to the ginger family. It contains phytochemicals that have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies have linked cardamom with improved heart health.
Rosehip is a powerful herb, rich in antioxidants and loaded with ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds. Several studies suggest that rosehip fruits, seeds, and roots have anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, and abnormal cholesterol-lowering effects in rodents and humans.
A study in J Nutr Biochem set out to find if rosehip lowers cholesterol and its effect on atherosclerotic plaque formation. Researchers found that this herb can help keep arteries clean and reduce plaque buildup.
Curcumin, a polyphenol responsible for giving turmeric its yellow color, has been used to treat many diseases in traditional medicine. Research in the International Journal of Cardiology suggests that curcumin has:
- Anti-carcinogenic effects
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Anti-thrombotic effects
- Anti-oxidant effects
- Cardiovascular protective effects
In fact, curcumin’s anti-thrombotic, anti-proliferative, and anti-inflammatory effects — plus its ability to decrease abnormal cholesterol levels naturally — may protect against atherosclerosis.
These small, blue berries are often called European blueberries and are very similar to North American blueberries. According to research, bilberries are rich in vitamin K, which helps prevent blood clots and reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke.
One eight-week study found that eating a variety of berries daily, including bilberries, had a positive impact on cholesterol levels. They also experienced an improvement in platelet function and blood pressure.
Many herbs can help treat atherosclerosis by improving abnormal cholesterol levels. If you’re looking for a natural approach to stop plaque in its tracks — and prevent future plaque buildup — it’s time to add these beneficial herbs to your diet. Consider trying our berberine supplement or check out Optilipid, formulated with ingredients like resveratrol, silymarin, ginger, berberine, and green tea to help promote optimal LDL and HDL levels.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD