Posted by Dr. Ian Bier on Apr 12, 2021 12:59:53 PM
When it comes to heart health, there are a lot of misconceptions. Perhaps, the most damaging is the belief that dietary cholesterol and fat are drivers of heart problems. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from the low-fat/no-fat diet model that was once considered good for cardiovascular health.
The truth is that imbalanced blood cholesterol is linked to refined sugars and carbohydrates, and cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance created by the liver, regardless of your diet. With a healthy diet and targeted nutrients for a normal inflammatory response, you can support a healthy heart, balanced cholesterol, and optimal lipid profile.*
Key nutrients for cardiovascular health include:
Each of these nutrients in foods and supplements can set the stage for ideal cardiovascular health, along with a diet rich in vegetables, protein, and heart-healthy fats.*
Chromium is a mineral best known for its support of blood sugar levels and benefits for heart health and longevity*. A Harvard study found that men with the highest chromium levels had a 41% lesser risk for heart issues, which is likely linked to chromium’s ability to support a healthy metabolism and inflammatory response.*
Foods especially rich in chromium include broccoli, barley, oats, green beans, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce. Beneficial levels of chromium in supplement form could be helpful after speaking with your doctor. This important nutrient is included in CholestSure because it both helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and normal HDL-to-LDL ratios.*
Policosanol is a supplement mixture of isolated alcohols derived from sugar cane wax. While more research is needed, initial studies suggest that policosanol can help maintain high-density lipoprotein (HDL, aka “good” cholesterol) within optimal ranges, while simultaneously protecting against lipid peroxidation.*
Integrative and conventional medical doctors alike recommend coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) for their patients who may have a lower amount of naturally occurring CoQ10 in the body. This coenzyme is essential for healthy cardiovascular function and cholesterol levels, along with supporting normal inflammation pathways, improving body discomfort, and maintaining healthy blood sugar.* 
Vitamin K2, or menaquinone (MK-7), is a unique and potent form of vitamin K that is important for bone formation and heart health.* While best-known for its role in maintaining strong bones, it plays a major role in cardiovascular function by ensuring calcium is deposited into bones instead of arteries.* This helps arteries remain soft and flexible, allowing for optimal blood flow.*
If you take a calcium supplement, consider speaking with your integrative doctor about including a K2 supplement, or a calcium/K2 combination.
The sunshine vitamin is also a major player in heart health, and inadequacy is quite common.* Low levels are associated with a decline in cardiovascular health, and optimal levels should be between 50-80 ng/mL.
Phytosterols, or plant sterols, refer to an entire family of molecules that impact cholesterol levels in the body.* They come from the cell membrane of plants and include sitosterol, stigmasterol, campesterol, and others. Similar in structure to cholesterol in the human body, some research suggests that when included in the diet and cardiovascular supplements, they could work to block the over-absorption of cholesterol and maintain healthy cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
When prioritizing heart health in your diet and supplementation, a major focus must be on supporting a healthy inflammatory response in the body.* Physical movement and adequate sleep are also key.
Contrary to the dated belief that a low-fat diet model is heart-healthy, we now know that healthy fats are key to balanced cholesterol, lipid levels, and heart health. Healthy fats that should be enjoyed regularly include olive oil, nuts and seeds (walnuts, in particular, have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol), naturally occurring fats in fatty fish, avocados, and even occasional grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, and meat.
Research consistently demonstrates that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial for heart health, as it includes a wide variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Avoiding processed and packaged foods—as well as foods that are high in refined carbohydrates—is also beneficial.
With so much misinformation out there, knowing what to eat and which supplements to take for heart health can feel overwhelming and confusing.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be!
Current research confirms that eating a balanced diet rich in healthy fats, protein, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains is exactly what the doctor ordered, and the low-fat approach to heart health and balanced cholesterol can do more harm than good.
While diet, along with exercise and sleep, should be the foundation for optimal health, targeted nutrients in professional-grade supplements can also support cardiovascular function, particularly vitamins K2 and D, phytosterols, CoQ10, chromium, and policosanol.*
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 Maresz K. (2015). Proper Calcium Use: Vitamin K2 as a Promoter of Bone and Cardiovascular Health. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), 14(1), 34–39.
 Dontas, A. S., Zerefos, N. S., Panagiotakos, D. B., Vlachou, C., & Valis, D. A. (2007). Mediterranean diet and prevention of coronary heart disease in the elderly. Clinical interventions in aging, 2(1), 109–115. https://doi.org/10.2147/ciia.2007.2.1.109
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